Jeffrey Sheffield, a Robbins native who has pulled double duty as the town’s manager and police chief for the past four years, received an affectionate sendoff from his peers during a retirement ceremony on Thursday.
A crowd of about 50 politicians and police officers paid tribute to Sheffield at the Robbins Fire Department. Among them was Rep. Jamie Boles, who presented the retiree with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest civilian honor.
“He has contributed so much as a city manager and as a police chief,” Boles said of Sheffield. “He wears many, many hats here in Robbins.”
Established in 1965, the award is designed to recognize “North Carolinians who have demonstrated exemplary service or made an exceptional contribution to the state or their communities.”
It was one of several parting gifts presented to Sheffield, who began his 30-year career in law enforcement after graduating from Montgomery Technical College in 1987.
“This is a time I’ve looked forward to and it’s a time I’ve dreaded,” he said. “All I’ve known is law enforcement. It’s going to be tough to leave.”
Sheffield served as a Moore County sheriff’s deputy for nearly 20 years before he applied in 2007 to replace outgoing Robbins Police Chief Danny Brown.
“The lord blessed me and I was accepted as their police chief,” Sheffield said. “Ever since then, I’ve been dedicated to this town.”
The Robbins Board of Commissioners tapped him to be the town’s interim manager after George Hayfield resigned from the position in 2012. Sheffield was made the permanent manager later that year.
“I’ve learned a lot working with him,” Mayor Lonnie English said. “I know that he’s a dedicated police officer, a dedicated chief and I know that he cares about Robbins.”
As a law enforcement agent, Sheffield says he strove to practice the Golden Rule.
“I’m still good friends with people I’ve sent to prison,” he said. “The reason is I don’t treat them like dirt. I treat them the way I would want to be treated.”
“I don’t see color and race,” he added. “All I see is human beings, and we’ve all got to work together.”
Officer Rob Tew, a fellow Robbins native, has been sworn in as the town’s new police chief. Sheffield described his successor as a “very smart, intelligent young officer.”
“Rob could have left this agency and gone anywhere he wanted, but he’s been loyal to this town,” he said. “I think the man needs to be rewarded for it.”
Tew, who joined the Robbins Police Department in 2004, said it had been “a privilege” working under Sheffield.
“He took me under his wing and taught me so much,” Tew said. “I’m very grateful for that.”
According to Tew, retirement will give Sheffield a much-needed opportunity to spend time with his wife and three children.
“Those who are in law enforcement know how much your family has to sacrifice,” Tew said. “I think his wife and kids will attest that he’s been under a lot of stress.”
The Board of Commissioners is still reviewing candidates for the vacant town manager position. A decision is expected to be made before the town’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 8.