Police presence growing in Woodland

Published 6:01 pm Saturday, December 5, 2009

WOODLAND — Possibly for the first time in its history, the Woodland Police Department has two full time officers.

On Tuesday, Christopher Boden was sworn in as an officer for the department. His wife, Maryann, held the Bible while the couple’s three young children, Taylor, 5, Conner, 3, and Mackenzie, 2, looked on during the ceremony.

Boden, of Roanoke Rapids, joins new Police Chief Jesse Stevens on the job as the second full time police officer at the department. A few weeks before Stevens was sworn in, the department welcomed part-time police officer Michael H. Duhadaway.

For 17 years, the Woodland Police Department only had one full time officer in former Police Chief Don Ryan.

Boden’s position is funded by a federal grant the town received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant will provide 100 percent of the officer’s salary and benefits for three years and requires the town to fund the position for another year.

“Welcome on board, we’re glad to have you,” said Woodland Mayor Jay Jenkins to Boden.

Boden’s start in law enforcement is slightly unconventional. Originally from Philadelphia, Pa., his father and brother were in the Marines. He was working at Prudential Financial before his job was outsourced and a “vacation” to Lake Gaston, provided by his father-in-law, became permanent. While working as a department manager at Lowe’s, Boden said Roanoke Rapids Police Captain Andy Jackson first sparked his interest in law enforcement.

After completing his Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) at Halifax Community College, Boden said he began work with the Roanoke Rapids Police Department as a patrol officer. He applied to Woodland after a friend, who had Stevens as a training officer, told him about the position.

“He told me Jesse would be good to work with,” Boden said.

Boden said he already knows Duhadaway, who was his squad leader during BLET.

Boden said working as a police officer often takes to you areas of a community where not many go or know about.

“I want to be a part of changing that,” he said.

The idea of his children growing up in the area is a reason to be in law enforcement.

Boden said he and his family plan to move to the Woodland area in two to three years depending on the housing market and if they can sell their house in Roanoke Rapids.

Stevens said the recently filled positions in his department were very much needed.

“For the most part I’m excited to have another officer,” he said. “The increase of officer presence is a major component to keeping the crime rate down. …We can rely more on the Woodland Police Department than the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, which is pretty much stretched thin.”

Stevens said he wasn’t sure as to when Woodland last had a two-man police department, if it did, but Ryan served as Police Chief and the only full time officer for 17 years.