WPD is deserving of stimulus funds

Published 9:26 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

It’s good to know that there has been a victory for at least one of the smaller police departments in Roanoke-Chowan area.

It was announced recently that Woodland Police Department is one of more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide to benefit from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

And, perhaps, Woodland Police Department is one of the most deserving on that list.

The department was awarded $134,100 and over the next three years those funds will provide the salary and benefits for a new and much needed full time officer.

As you drive through the community of Woodland you may see a familiar sight: an intimidating Dodge Charger clearly marked with its affiliation to WPD. If you’re up to no good there is a chance that vehicle will be hot on your tail with blue lights blazing in your rearview mirror.

The man behind the wheel is Woodland Police Chief Don Ryan, the only full time police officer in the department that is also staffed with two part time officers. Ryan is a seasoned veteran in law enforcement whose career spans 30 years and 18 of those years he has been working for the town.

Last year, Woodland and near-by Potecasi saw an increase in crime from homes and individuals being burglarized. There was even a murder in the area.

In an interview with Ryan a few months ago, in October 2008 alone he arrested 22 people and wrote 32 reports in the town with a population of 824. He added in the interview that is what prompted his decision to retire in January 2010.

In the meantime, specialized patrols from the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department have assisted Ryan in curbing the crime.

Being a police officer brings stress, both physically and mentally. But for a lone officer in a town that has a steady flow of crime—it’s simply too much for one person.

This is a story, I’m sure, is similar to many of the smaller police departments in the area and those across the country.

One of the most important aspects to officers is to have dependable backup and to know those you work with have your back.

For many law enforcement agencies everywhere, the lack of resources (in both force size and equipment) is a downfall for officers and the community they vow to protect and serve.

But for Woodland Police Department, at least a little relief is coming. For the in-coming Woodland police chief, the new full-time position brings an incentive to the role.

More importantly for the citizens in general, the strengthening of the police department even by just one position means a safer community for residents and their families.

File this one under a win for the little guy.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.