The Mount Airy Police Department has a new member, Allison Tilley, who owns the distinction of being the only female patrol officer on the city force.
Tilley, 21, is from Stokes County, a graduate of North Stokes High School and recently completed the Basic Law Enforcement Training program of Surry Community College.
Tilley was administered her oath of office last week by Mayor David Rowe during a swearing-in ceremony at the Municipal Building attended by her family, present and former officers of the police department, city elected officials and others.
In addition to happily welcoming her to a force that has operated with depleted ranks in recent months, Police Chief Dale Watson mentioned the unique role Tilley will fill in his department during remarks at the ceremony.
“You represent diversity, which is something we need in our ranks,” Watson told Tilley. “You can be a trailblazer.”
Yet when asked after the ceremony why she chose law enforcement as a career, Tilley’s response was not indicative of someone trying to become a standout in her profession, but reflected a much simpler goal. “I want to help people and help show that police are there to help them,” she said, rather than just to make arrests.
That sentiment also was highlighted in remarks Wednesday by the police department’s chaplain, Gray Shelton, a retired Mount Airy detective.
“We are servants,” Shelton said of the law enforcement community, telling Tilley, “I hope you come to work each day with a servant’s heart, knowing you’ll be able to help somebody.”
The Mount Airy Police Department has one other uniformed female member, Stacy Inman. Unlike Inman, who is a school resource officer, Tilley will be patrolling the streets.
Regardless of any gender considerations, the police chief said Tilley has demonstrated the qualities needed to be successful in her new job, such as loyalty, truthfulness, compassion and the ability to communicate. “You have to be able to work in a team environment,” Watson said.
“This marks the culmination of a lot of work,” the chief said, by both the new officer and the department, which involves a strenuous recruiting and preparation process.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.