Hamlet police chief to retire

Griffin: ‘It’s just time for me to go’

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

HAMLET — Hamlet Police Chief Amery Griffin announced his intent to retire  at the end of May from the only law enforcement agency for which he’s ever worked.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Hamlet Police Chief Amery Griffin, 50, announced that he will retire from the force at the end of the month.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Hamlet Police Chief Amery Griffin, 50, announced that he will retire from the force at the end of the month.

Griffin, 50, was promoted in the summer of 2012 to chief from captain to replace former chief John Haywood, who was terminated by City Manager Marchell Adams-David. Griffin told PeeDeePost.com there is no one particular issue impacting his decision to retire now other than it’s simply time.

“Summertime’s rolling around,” Griffin said. “I like the outdoors.”

Griffin acknowledged the workload at the department has ebbed and flowed between difficult and easy, and now “it’s just time for me to go. I’ve enjoyed my time.”

Griffin said he likes fishing the Pee Dee River in particular, but that managing a staff of more than 20 — roughly 25 percent of the city of Hamlet’s entire workforce — takes a bite out of his leisure time.

The Richmond County native started his law enforcement career with the Hamlet Police Department on Feb. 6, 1986, at the age of 22. His home, situated along Highway 74 between Hamlet and Rockingham, allowed him to have one foot in each community growing up.

“We had a Hamlet phone number and a Rockingham address,” Griffin said. “When I first started, I never thought I would stay in one place very long. I hadn’t had very many jobs prior to that.”

Griffin said his most memorable days might be when he was first joined the force. As a patrolman, he was able to interact with the people on a more regular basis. Technology has been difficult to keep pace with in the department on a budget, Griffin said — from radar equipment, computers and the newer police cruisers.

Griffin earned a promotion to sergeant on Dec. 7, 1992. Nearly seven years later, on May 16, 1999, he was promoted to detective sergeant and then, on Jan. 9, 2000, to detective lieutenant. Griffin attained the rank of captain on April 27, 2005, before being named interim chief, succeeding Haywood, on Sept. 10, 2012. It’s a position he won’t relinquish until May 31.

“It’s just amazing how (the job has) changed,” Griffin said.

Griffin hopes that one of his last projects will eventually be finished, even if it happens after time in service ends. For decades, Hamlet police leaders have sought a larger headquarters. The city of 6,700 residents originally obtained what is now the Hamlet Visitors Center for a new police barrack but that plan was quashed, Griffin said, when the funds to renovate the building for law enforcement needs became too costly. There is little argument that can be made that the department of 21 officers has sufficient room to work in its existing space and the effort to obtain additional space has been a long one.

Former chief Robert Bristow “many, many years ago” was the first to seek additional space, said Griffin ask he passed two evidence rooms on Monday during a walk through headquarters — including the former conference room now secured for evidence storage.

“As things processed, and we were running out of space for various reasons, he started looking,” Griffin said. “Since then Chief Haywood looked …”

Griffin said he’s hopeful the city’s recent purchase of the former A&P grocery store building, situated across from City Hall, can be converted into a new police headquarters if political will can move the initiative forward.

“Some council members have proposed (alternate) options and ultimately it’s going to be up to them to make the decisions what to do with it,” Griffin said. “I started it. I hope it goes there. It may not (but) I would like to see it.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com The ID card  Hamlet Police Chief Amery Griffin wore when he first joined the force in February 1986 hang framed in his office, along with his sergeant stripes and modern badge.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
The ID card Hamlet Police Chief Amery Griffin wore when he first joined the force in February 1986 hang framed in his office, along with his sergeant stripes and modern badge.

Before becoming a police officer, Griffin worked a number of part-time positions for Richmond County Schools. His time there counted towards the state retirement system, which he said allows him to retire earlier than expected.

Tammy Kirkley, acting city manager while Marchell Adams-David on family leave, said the city is advertising for a new police chief. There is no timetable on which officials have determined the need to replace Griffin. In fact, the position is usually one that is appointed by the city manager. However, Kirkley noted even that is up in the air as it’s not known exactly when Adams-David will return to work.

The city is “hopefully looking in June” for her return, Kirkley said.

Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless said Griffin submitted his retirement papers on May 2.

The issue, Bayless said, has “just been dropped on us. The main thing is we definitely want to get someone that’s qualified.”

Bayless noted it will be difficult to replace someone with Griffin’s years of experience both in law enforcement and Richmond County.

In the official advertisement for the vacancy, the city is seeking a proven leader with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or public administration supplemented by basic and advanced courses in police science and administration, plus extensive experience of a professionally responsible nature in police management operation including considerable experience in a supervisory capacity.

The new police chief must live in Hamlet or relocate to Hamlet upon acceptance of the position.

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