Clyde gets new police chief
Clyde residents have a new chief of police that town leaders hope they can hold on to for quite some time.
Terry Troutman, 50, was sworn in at the Clyde Town Hall Friday evening with his wife, Donna, by his side. An Asheville native, Troutman spent four years in the U.S. Army as infantry and a paratrooper. After his time in the military, he came home and worked for the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office from 1986 to 1988 until he joined the North Carolina Highway Patrol in May that year.
He retired last year as a sergeant with 25 years under his belt at the highway patrol. After nine months of retirement, he is coming into a police department that has experienced a tumultuous time having gone through two police chiefs in less than two years.
Derek Dendy was fired by the town Board of Aldermen for misconduct in early 2012, though it was never revealed exactly what actions led to the decision.
Gerard Ball took over the position as chief in July 2012 but was placed on a 30-day suspension last September for "personal misconduct." He quietly came back to work as chief for about two months until he resigned in January.
"This position was a prime opportunity because I had a chance to get away for a little while. I did a lot of vacationing, rode Harleys and just got a breath of fresh air," he said with a smile.
He had been considering doing some part-time work at the Haywood County Sheriff's Office, as he is good friends with Sheriff Greg Christopher, who he worked with at the highway patrol.
But when he heard Clyde would likely be looking for a new police chief after Ball resigned, he was interested.
"I told my wife, 'Let's just be praying about it and if the good Lord wants us to have it, it will fall in place,'" he said.
The town received about 15 applications and interviewed eight candidates, but they were most drawn to Troutman, said Town Administrator Joy Garland.
"What stood out to me personally was during his interview his answer to the question, 'Why do you want to be Clyde police chief?' His response was, 'I want to make it a better place.'
"I truly believe his intention is to do that with his knowledge and expertise he has gained over the years," Garland said.
Troutman feels like this is exactly where he is supposed to be.
"I feel blessed because I believe it's a gift that God has given us to come in here and bring a lot of pride and respect back here to these officers and this department as a whole," he said.
When he came into the department two weeks ago, officer morale seemed lagging.
"A black cloud was sort of hanging over them I think coming in, but now their morale is already picking up," Troutman said.
One of his first tasks was to make sure all the police vehicles were serviced and road worthy and make updates where needed. He's also making sure the officers bring their police reports to him at the end of their shifts, which is something that was never required of them before.
Having worked in highway patrol for so long, Troutman said he's used to writing a proper incident report, especially when it comes to vehicle accidents.
"I'm telling them that we've always got to paint a picture in the reports," he said.
But don't expect to always find him sitting behind a desk pushing papers.
"The board made it very clear that I'm a working chief. They want me to work on the road and be seen by the public," he said.
And he's perfectly fine with that because that's exactly what he's used to doing. But other parts of the job, such as working out budgets for the department, are very new to him.
"In the highway patrol, all the budgets came out of Raleigh. Even as a sergeant I would always have the budget handed to me," he said.
He's looking forward to the challenge, though, as well as making some improvements in the department, starting with the officers. He plans to purchase better equipment such as new computers in the vehicles and in the office. He is also already scheduling officer training such as DWi and Taser training.
During his off time, Troutman is an instructor with the Land Rover Experience Driving School at Biltmore and a volunteer firefighter and EMT at North Canton Fire Department.
"I'm really blessed in that I do know just about everybody in the emergency services field already and I've always had a wonderful working relationship with every agency from police to fire departments," he said.
When it comes to working with other police departments, Troutman said he is more than willing to assist whenever and wherever he can. Even before he was officially on the job, he assisted in the multi-jurisdictional investigation that led to the arrest of two people promoting prostitution in Clyde.
He also wants to work with other law enforcement agencies in the county to crack down on drugs in Clyde. Speeding is another area of concern.
"I've asked my guys to be very vigilant in their work putting cars on the shoulders. Speeding in general on Carolina Boulevard and U.S. 19 is a big concern and our guys are doing great with DWIs," he said.
More than anything, he wants the public to feel comfortable coming to him to talk about issues in the community.
"I want to have an open door policy where people feel that it's OK to come talk to me. I want to be community oriented. Safety is my paramount concern for Clyde residents," he said.