The Maxton Board of Commissioners has named veteran police Officer Tammy Deese as the town’s new police chief.
Deese has been serving as interim chief since former Police Chief Damon Williams left in June to lead the Tarboro Police Department.
Deese is the first woman to serve as Maxton’s top law enforcement officer. The only other woman currently serving as a chief in Robeson County is Tammy Lowery, chief of the Parkton Police Department.
Deese, 38, has been a Maxton police officer for more than 17 years. She served as the town’s interim chief back in late 2009 following the retirement of Chief Paul McDowell and before the hiring of Williams in April 2010.
“All of my experience (in law enforcement) and training has been in Maxton,” Deese said. “It’s time to give back to the community.”
The new chief was sworn in by Amy McCrimmon, a local magistrate, before a packed courtroom that included fellow police officers.
“The best man for this job is a woman,” Deese said jokingly while thanking the commissioners, friends and relatives for their confidence in her.
Commissioner James McDougald’s vote was the lone one against Deese becoming chief. He said that he believes there needs to be more police visibility in areas of the town where the most crime occurs, something that he said has not happened with Deese as acting chief.
“There’s not been police action,” McDougald said. “Law enforcement here needs to be more proactive.”
Deese will supervise a department that includes eight full-time officers, five part-time officers, four full-time dispatchers and one part-time dispatcher.
“She is going to run a tight department,” McDowell, the former chief, said. “She’s a very good supervisor. She’s going to raise the bar … . Tammy is a very dependable, fair and an honest person.”
Evelyn Williams was one of several people who told the commissioners they had made the right choice in naming Deese chief.
“When she first started working here I knew we had a keeper,” Williams said. “I’ve seen officers come and go, but I could tell she loves people. You have to love the town and people you serve.”
James McEachin, a longtime community activist, said that the appointment of Deese as chief is overdue.
“The community loves you,” he said.
Deese is currently studying criminal justice at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She also is a paramedic.
Deese said that being a woman should not be a disadvantage for her in overseeing her department and carrying out her duties in the community.
“I’ve earned respect in the community and of the officers,” she said.
In other business, town commissioners amended an ordinance dealing with the qualifications for appointment, reappointment and removal of individuals appointed by the commissioners to serve on town boards and commissions.