By Jefferson Weaver
Anthony Spivey wants to see more people take the same kind of pride in Chadbourn that he does.
“We have a good town, and a lot of good people,” he said. “We can straighten Chadbourn up if we all work together. It’s going to take a lot of work, but the police department is going to do its part.”
Spivey was named chief last week, after serving as interim chief for several months. The Cerro Gordo native says Chadbourn has always been like a hometown to him.
A graduate of Southeastern Community College’s Basic Law Enforcement Training program, Spivey, 32, worked for the Fair Bluff and Tabor City departments before coming to Chadbourn in 2017. He was named interim chief after Harry White left in April.
Spivey said his department’s aggressive enforcement of drug suspects is indicative of the teamwork he and his officers have developed.
“I am privileged to be the supervisor over these officers I have worked alongside,” he said. “I don’t feel like being called ‘boss’ or ‘chief.’ I like being out there with them. I trained most of them, and we have a special relationship. We all work together, and we are all dedicated to helping this town.”
The increased police presence is tough on the nine-person department, Spivey said, but the public response has been worthwhile.
“We’re seeing more people feeling comfortable talking to us, and that’s a big part of police work,” Spivey said. “We have to earn the trust of our citizens, and I feel like we are doing so. We’re getting more folks willing to share information with us, and it shows.”
Spivey said part of his motivation comes from hearing citizens share their memories of how Chadbourn has been, and their worries about what it has become.
“Your home, your property, should be a safe place,” he said. “Your kids should be able to play in the yard, or walk down the sidewalk.
“Yet I have senior citizens telling me they have been scared to sit on their front porches because of drug dealers, criminals, shots being fired…We’ve had so many complaints. When somebody’s grandparents are afraid to sit on their front porch, that does something to me. I cannot stand for that, and neither will my officers.”
While the crime rate is still too high for Spivey’s satisfaction, the new chief said crime is dropping.
“When the bad guys don’t know where we might turn up, they go elsewhere,” he said.
Spivey said the widespread use of technology as well as new methods for old crimes make law enforcement an ever-changing challenge.
“Crime is changing,” he said. “There’s stuff now that didn’t exist when I was in BLET, and that really wasn’t that many years ago. We have to learn about new ways to prevent or investigate new crimes. Being a small-town department is always a challenge.”
Spivey praised his officers, as well as those in Fair Bluff and Tabor City and the sheriff’s office, for their willingness to work together.
“We all have to help each other,” he said. “Criminals move between the towns, and we have to keep up with them. We have to communicate and work together. If we have something major coming up, or even if it’s just a traffic stop that doesn’t feel right, I appreciate the fact that all the departments know their neighbors will help any way we possibly can. It really helps increase the amount of law enforcement presence we can produce in an emergency.”
It’s not just fellow law enforcement agencies helping police that strengthens the department, Spivey said. He called Randy Guyton of Chadbourn Fire and Rescue “a friend and mentor.
“Randy really has made a difference for me since I came to work here,” Spivey said. “He loves this town as well, and wants to see it grow and improve. Anytime I need anything, I know I can call on him. He helped me through the whole process of coming to work here, and he still does a lot. His whole department does. We all work together, and I think it shows.”
Since he was a child, Spivey said, he has always wanted to do two things: “be a police officer and a race car driver.” When he isn’t behind the wheel of a cruiser, Spivey can be found ripping around a dirt track, sometimes racing against Guyton.
“Not everybody gets to see both their dreams come true,” Spivey laughed.
Crime will never be eliminated, Spivey said, but he said his team is going to do all they can to continue to reduce drugs, gangs, property crimes and other barriers to Chadbourn’s growth.
“When you get right down to it, everything we do is for the citizens of Chadbourn,” he said. “I’m honored to be able to do my part.”