25 years and counting

Forest City officer continues serving hometown
Jul. 24, 2014 @ 09:18 AM

Detective Sergeant Tommy Turner has reached a milestone in his law enforcement career — 25 years serving the same police department in the town he grew up in.

Turner, 49, attended East Rutherford High School, graduated from Gardner-Webb University and finished up law enforcement rookie school before he was hired by the Forest City Police Department on July 20, 1989.

Throughout his years of service Turner has served the department in various capacities.

"When I started in 1989, I spent 10 years in uniform patrolling on the road," Turner said. "I really enjoyed the road, as most younger officers tend to, and I liked the uniform."

Turner continued his career in narcotics for eight years before an assignment with general investigations for five years. In his current position, he serves as the department's evidence/crime scene investigator, polygraph examiner and evidence room manager.

"For major crime scenes I will go out and collect any evidence that will be needed for court," he said. "I document the evidence and I expunge old evidence that has been at the department and is no longer needed. I also give back lost property, from purses to bicycles to vehicles."

While working in law enforcement Turner has found the ever-changing nature of the public to be a challenge.

"The different folks that have moved through Forest City as jobs come and go means there is a different influx of people," he said. "And to be able to cope and adapt to that on a day-to-day basis, a lot of people don't understand that officers see a lot and go through a lot."

Another aspect Turner has had to adapt to is newer technology used by the police force.

"When I started there were certain technologies that weren't available and now there is technology that further aids in the officers' duties," he said.

Turner has learned numerous lessons over his 25-year law enforcement career, the biggest being the importance of family.

"I think the families of the officers are often overlooked. The families are probably stronger than any of the officers, because those families have to cope with what the officers experience," Turner said. "I never took my work home, but my family was always supportive when I had to stay late or cancel plans."

Turner said his mother and father always supported him and although they are no longer living, he continues to find support in his wife and son.

"Family is a lot more important to officers than I think a lot of people give credit for — those wives, girlfriends, moms, dads and others who stand by those officers," he said.

Forest City Police Chief Jay Jackson recently recognized Turner's service and presented him with a 25-year service pin.

"We are very fortunate to have such an experienced police officer and investigator handling and overseeing these specialized areas," Jackson said. "We look forward to him serving the Town of Forest City for many years to come."

Turner, who turns 50 in November, said the earliest he will retire is when he reaches 30 years of service.

"When I do retire, I would like to do volunteer work. Law enforcement officers are public service people and we treat everybody as our customers and take care of them," he said.

And while Turner has had his share of good and bad times on the job, he has enjoyed spending 25 years in the same town.

"Growing up here and then serving here has just worked out really well. It's been three blinks and 25 years has gone by," he said. "I hope that's how it goes for other officers, and I hope their careers do the same thing. I hope people can see what officers sacrifice on a daily basis just to be out here responding to their 911 calls without hesitation."