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Changing of the Guard

Altessie “Tess” Taylor receives the oath of office as the new Chief of Police in Rich Square from Town Clerk Frances Futrell on Friday. Her husband, Max (faces partially hidden), holds the Bible. Staff Photo by Gene Motley

Altessie “Tess” Taylor receives the oath of office as the new Chief of Police in Rich Square from Town Clerk Frances Futrell on Friday. Her husband, Max (faces partially hidden), holds the Bible. Staff Photo by Gene Motley

RICH SQUARE – And now you can call her ‘Chief’.

After serving with the Rich Square Police Department in a part-time role, Officer Altessie “Tess” Taylor was sworn in Friday as the town’s new Chief of Police.

Taylor replaces 14-year chief Alan ‘Bo-Bo’ Roye who resigned effective Oct. 31.

Taylor becomes one of the first African-American female Chiefs of Police in the state of North Carolina and first in Northampton County.

The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Town Hall

With her husband, Max, holding the Bible, and her three sons seated in the front and beaming proudly, Taylor raised her right hand and took the oath from Magistrate and Town Clerk Frances Futrell shortly after 2 p.m.  Also present for the ceremony were friends, family members, and fellow officers in law enforcement, town officials, and Rich Square residents.

“I’m glad we have her on board,” said Mayor Doris Risper.  “I think she’ll do a great job; and I knew she would do a great job because you could tell when she was working part-time.  The town of Rich Square is fortunate to have a chief of her caliber.  She a hard worker, she’s dedicated, and she listens.”

“It’s exciting,” Taylor said, speaking above the celebratory din occurring following the swearing-in. “I just want to try to make it worthwhile, and try to make it a good experience for the females in law enforcement.”

In addition to her part-time duties under the previous administration, Taylor comes to her top office in Rich Square with eight years of experience with the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, including several as a school resource officer.  Prior to her service with the NCSO she spent two years with the Weldon Police Department in Halifax County, and eight more years with the North Carolina Department of Corrections working in the prison system.  She is aware of the challenges the office presents for her.

“I’ve kind of been into a little bit of everything,” Taylor said.

“I’m going to work with the community, work with the (town) board members, and work with the citizens.”

Taylor also wants her five years tenure with the department in a part-time role to demonstrate what she plans to stand for in office and points to the job she currently does on patrol.

“I believe the community already knows that I work well, that I will provide good security because I’m riding all the time; I’ve got my lights going all the time, and I believe they trust me.”

“We all have to play a part in making this town a success,” said Town Councilman Raymond Joyner, who spoke prior to the swearing-in. “Temptations are far greater than they were when I was growing up.  This event is because of change; and sometimes we don’t like to see change because we get so accustomed to doing things the same way.  Change brings about success, but you have to attach yourself to it, or you’ll be left behind because everyone else is going to be moving on with the change.  I hope we all enjoy this venture that we are entering into.”

Councilman Charles Eason also spoke, as did Councilman Reginald White; along with Joyner, all three were standing in for absent council members Patrice Majette and Linwood Bryant who were unable to attend.

“You have the board’s support,” Eason intoned to the new chief. “Anything we can do as a council let us know; and if the citizens come to you with a problem and you know how, then resolve it. But we are here to be helpers of one another.”

Congratulations came following the ceremony, led by Northampton County Sheriff Jack Smith.

“We’re going to miss her at the Sheriff’s Office,” Smith said. “But she’ll be close to us, and I know she’ll do a good job.  If you need us, all she has to do is call us and we’ll be here to assist you.”

Garysburg Police Chief Melvin Garner made the cross-county trip for the swearing-in. He spoke briefly about his work with Taylor.

“You couldn’t have picked a better person,” Garner stated to the crowd. “I know she’ll do a great job.”

“I want to get the system to where people will know that it’s not all about arrests,” Taylor said, “but it’s about preventing crime before it happens.”