2013: Women to Watch

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chances are better than average if there is a need for emergency assistance and you live, work or are just passing through Gates County, Glynda Parker will be there to lend a helping hand.

And she can provide that assistance in more ways than one – first and foremost through her paid job as the Captain of the Gates County Sheriff’s Office; or due to her volunteer spirit as an EMT-I with Gates County Rescue and her training as a firefighter with the Eure Fire Department.

For good measure, Parker is a member of the Hall Ruritan Club, a community-minded organization that conducts numerous fundraisers to help those in need.

“What can I say…I just like to help folks,” said Parker as she took a recent break from her duties at the Sheriff’s Office in Gatesville. “I became involved with Gates County Rescue while I was still in high school and I guess that’s where I got hooked on helping folks.”

Born in Hobbsville to the now late Floy and Hilda Boyce, Parker graduated in 1981 from Gates County High School. Three years later (1984) she earned an Associate of Arts degree from the College of the Albemarle.  She said her original career ambition was to become a nurse, but, “I become too attached (to patients). Sometimes I’d find myself crying with the patient and their family. I knew then I just couldn’t do that type of work for a living.”

She added, “I guess that’s why I like working with the rescue squad. There you pick them up and drop them off (at a hospital). But that doesn’t mean I don’t later think about them. I always wonder how they’re doing.”

Over the next 15 years, Parker had a full-time job without being paid – raising the three children born during her first marriage. Looking back, Parker said she feels that she reared her children the right way as all are now successful adults – Keith Arnold (25) is enrolled as an Officer’s Candidate in the Coast Guard Academy; Heather Arnold (23) is a graduate of NC State and currently working in Chicago as an analysis with a computer firm; and Alyssa Arnold (20) is in her junior year at East Carolina University where she is following in her mother’s footsteps by majoring in Criminal Justice.

Like most stay-at-home moms, the desire to add to the family income is always an alluring thought. So it was with Parker when, in March of 1999, she landed a job with the Gates County Sheriff’s Office as a part-time secretary. A little over one year later (May, 2000), Parker took the oath to “protect and serve” when she was sworn in as a part-time Deputy Sheriff. She moved to full-time status three months later.

In order to join to Sheriff’s Office, Parker had to promise to enroll and pass BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training) courses. By working days and taking classes at night, she completed that required task over an eight-month stretch at MartinCommunity College in Williamston, graduating in March of 2001.

“I didn’t have any idea back when I was a secretary here that I would one day become a law enforcement officer,” Parker said. “All I wanted then was to get out of the house – my kids were then all in school and I babysat for neighbors. When one of the deputies quit, the Sheriff gave me the option to take that position. I figured I’d give it a try.”

It was a desire to succeed that pushed Parker to reach deep within her soul and pass the BLET.

“My future depended on that training,” she said. “The county pays for a person to go through that training. If you don’t pass, you have to pay that money back. And if you decide to give it a second try you have to pay your own way.”

After serving a stint as a regular Patrol Deputy – which she still does from time to time – Parker settled in on a law enforcement career where she handles the majority of the sexual assault, child abuse and elder abuse investigations.

“The latter two are the ones that touch your heart the most – your babies/children and your senior citizens, they are the ones that can’t fend for themselves,” she stressed. “I strive to do my best in all my cases, but the child and elder abuse cases are the ones that are so emotional.”

Over her 13 years in law enforcement, Parker has advanced in both education and rank. Through hundreds of hours of classroom and field training, Parker has earned her Investigator’s Certificate and status as an Intermediate Law Enforcement Officer. She was promoted to Sergeant and then worked on and received her Advanced Law Enforcement Training Certificate, an effort that led Parker to become the first ever female Captain of the Gates County Sheriff’s Office. She was promoted to that rank in May of last year.

She has been as far as Huntsville, Alabama to take part in a conference/training dealing with child abuse cases. She has attended forensic interview training classes.

“(Gates County) Sheriff (Ed) Webb is keen on continuing education so we can improve our skills as law enforcement officers,” Parker stated. “He’s sent me to child abuse classes, elder abuse classes and classes on handling domestic violence cases.”

“Glynda was meek and mild when she first became a deputy, almost scared of her own shadow, but just look at her now,” said Sheriff Webb. “She has done an excellent job. We’ve watched her grow and mature as a law enforcement officer. She’s very self motivated, working hard to gain her intermediate, advanced and investigator’s certification and also works as my Field Training Officer when we bring in a new deputy. She takes to heart what she does and works her cases very diligently. I’m very proud of Glynda and her work.”

Parker takes pride in being the best in any task she tackles.

“I’ve done a lot of growing as an officer,” she noted. “I give every case my very best. It breaks my heart sometimes and you really feel for a victim and their family when you put in all that time and the court case doesn’t come out the way we all wished it would.

“I make every effort to learn from my mistakes,” she continued. “If I haven’t given it my best, I’m the type to work with a person and try to correct what was not done properly.

“For the most part, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished to now,” Parker added. “There are some professional goals I strive to achieve before I retire. I want to remain in law enforcement, but if I stay in this until I’m eligible to retire I have a tough time thinking about chasing 20-year-olds with a cane.”

When it comes to serving the public, Parker wears other hats as well. She joined Gates County Rescue & EMS while still in high school and has advanced her certification over the years to an EMT-I (Intermediate) status. Gates Rescue/EMS is a nonprofit organization consisting of volunteer and career emergency medical technicians/paramedics and rescue technicians who provide non-emergency and emergency medical care, stabilization, and transport for the sick/injured and perform rescue of individuals from hazardous environments. Though a system of paid and volunteer staff, those emergency responders provide countywide heavy rescue, vehicle extrication, land search and rescue, water rescue, and emergency medical services.

“I started out like everyone else, as an EMT-Basic,” she said. “After I became a Deputy, I took classes to become an EMT-I (a mid-level provider of pre-hospital emergency medical services) and still take continuing ed classes to maintain that level of certification.”

She works as a volunteer with Gates Rescue/EMS. On her days off from the Sheriff’s Office, one can find Parker at Station 80 (the home of Gates Rescue/EMS) as a part-time paid staffer, serving both as an emergency responder and in a clerical position.

“That keeps me busy,” she said. “If they need something done, I don’t mind doing it…anything to help those who need help. Again, it’s my nature….I enjoy dealing with the public and helping others.”

Nowadays, Gates Rescue/EMS is financially supported through payments for services they offer. It hasn’t always been that way as Parker remembers the day when the organization’s members would go door-to-door seeking donations and/or conduct fundraising events several times a year.

“It’s a busy place,” Parker said of Station 80. “Our call volume has gone through the roof. As of Feb. 11, Gates Rescue/EMS had answered 711 calls. We’re on track to answer over 7,000 calls by the end of the year, the most we’ve ever had.”

To help speed up their response times, Station 80 has positioned ambulances on opposite ends of the county at the fire departments in Eure and Sunbury. That leaves three vehicles – plus the crash truck and a service truck – working out of the main station.

“I live in Eure, so if I’m off work and there’s a rescue call in that end of the county, I can go and grab the unit at the Eure Fire Department and have another EMT to drive their personal vehicle and meet me at the scene,” she said. “It’s all about answering the call and providing aid as quickly as possible. In some cases, a prompt response is the difference between life and death.”

For the past four years Parker has been a member of the Eure Volunteer Fire Department. There she serves as a Training Officer.

“To serve the public, you have to love it,” she said. “I guess I love it, considering all the jobs I have that deal with the public. I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything.”

Believe it or not, but Glynda does enjoy life at home with her husband, Al Parker – the Animal Control Officer for the Gates County Sheriff’s Office.

“As a married couple, you’re not going to agree on everything, but when you work with your spouse in the same office, we have learned to handle any differences we have on a professional basis,” she stated. “He does his job; I do my job. We have worked together, serving warrants, but we keep everything professional.”

Like any other law enforcement officer, Parker completely understands that any day on that job could be your last.

“Even though we live in a small, rural county, danger remains an element in our profession,” she said. “We keep a positive attitude every day. I tell my guys that we’re going to work our shift and we’re going home safe and sound when it ends.”

When she’s not saving a life or protecting one, Parker enjoys her leisure time, to include four-wheeling, rabbit hunting, fishing, working in the yard and completing puzzles and crosswords.

However, her number one priority in life, other than being a loving mother and wife, is to protect, serve and guard the medical welfare of those who cross her path.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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