Wednesday, 18 August 2021 15:25

Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly announces retirement

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Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly gives a personal testimony during the National Day of Prayer ceremony in 2019. Kelly will retire in November after nearly 30 years with the department. Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly gives a personal testimony during the National Day of Prayer ceremony in 2019. Kelly will retire in November after nearly 30 years with the department. RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — There will soon be another law enforcement leadership change in Richmond County with the retirement of Chief Billy Kelly.

The Rockingham Police Chief submitted his notice of retirement to City Manager Monty Crump on Wednesday.

“It is with both sadness and excitement that I announce my retirement,” Kelly said in the letter. “ I have had a wonderful career as a Law Enforcement Officer and found myself so lucky to have begun and ended my career with the best city in the world.

According to Crump, Kelly started with the Rockingham Police Department as a patrol officer trainee in November of 1992 and was named chief nearly 20 years later in April of 2012.

Kelly has also served as district law enforcement liaison with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. The district includes Richmond, Anson, Stanly, Hoke, Lee, Moore, Scotland, Montgomery and Cumberland counties.

“As with any Chief you want to leave your department in better shape than when you started. I feel that I have accomplished that with training, new technology and the current longevity of our officers.”

Kelly said he has seen staff shortages across the country and said it “is truly difficult” to find good officers.

“We have not felt the stress of searching for new officers because current officers recognize the City provides a great place to work, a City Manager that works hard to make sure we are provided all the resources to properly perform our jobs without being handcuffed, and a Chief that has always kept their interest in mind above all else,” Kelly continued.

The chief added that he has traveled across the state and spoken with other officers and chiefs “who have expressed to me how envious they were of how well our city operates.”

Kelly attributes his success to the department’s staff.

“These officers mostly go unrecognized by the public for the countless hours, dedication, loyalty and desire to serve this great city,” Kelly said.

He also thanked Crump, the City Council and employees at City hall for helping steer his nearly 30-year career.

“I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend quality time with my family, and have had time to reflect on a long career,” Kelly said, adding he was also blessed to spend his career at the department “and worked with so many amazing men and women.”

“My intentions have been for some time to stay on for a period longer than this and help guide this department through what may be a difficult time,” Kelly said. “However, in talking with my family and members of the Department, I feel that I am leaving this department in good hands and that this Department has the key members in place to lead and continue to build upon the foundation that has been laid.”

Kelly’s last day of employment will be Nov. 17 so his retirement can “officially” start on Dec. 1.

“Chief Kelly is an example of what the city has been trying to accomplish over the years and that is encouraging our officers to make Rockingham a place to spend their law enforcement careers,” Crump said in an email. “Chief Kelly has had an exemplary career, served faithfully with honor, dedication, loyalty and most importantly unquestionable integrity. He has set the highest standards of conduct, public service and professionalism in law enforcement.”

Crump said he will immediately begin the process of replacing Kelly and plans to have a new chief in place as soon as possible for a transition period. The city manager added that the selection process will begin within the department “which I anticipate will generate several qualified internal candidates.”

Kelly’s announcement comes one day after Mark Gulledge was selected to fill out the rest of the term for the office of sheriff, following the unexpected death of Sheriff James Clemmons on Aug. 5. Gulledge had served as chief deputy since Clemmons was elected in 2010.

Dennis Brown was hired earlier this year as chief of the Hamlet Police Department. Brown, who had previously been chief in the town of Hertford, filled the vacancy left by the resignation of Tommy McMasters.

Edited to fix typos 10:46 p.m. 8-18-21


Last modified on Wednesday, 18 August 2021 22:46