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by David Leone
WILSON’S MILLS — Former Wake Forest Officer David Hess has a new job: police chief.
Hess made the leap from a medium-sized department to a four-man force in Wilson’s Mills last week, starting June 17.
“He was the best applicant we had,” said Richard Hicks, Wilson’s Mills town administrator. “He sort of stood out above the rest. We’re very pleased with our choice.”
Hicks noted that the town had received a lot of good reports about Hess, especially from Wake Forest Police Chief Jeff Leonard.
“He’d been here awhile. He was dedicated to the town. He had a lot of knowledge (and) reached that point where he was taking more initiative, volunteering for different roles,” said Leonard.
Those activities included leading the youth Explorers program, which involved budgeting and organizational skills; assisting supervisors on patrol, filling-in when the sergeant wasn’t present and training new officers.
On patrol, Hess sometimes was in charge of more officers than are in his new department’s entire force, Leonard added.
Hess has been a police officer since 2004, all with Wake Forest. Much of that time was spent as a K9 officer. After his canine partner, Maverick, was injured in the line of duty in 2011 (he was hit by a car), the the dog retired and Hess took him home.
Hess is a recipient of the N.C. Department of Justice’s intermediate and advanced law enforcement certificates and is a graduate of the Coastal Plains Law Enforcement Management and Leadership Institute. He is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Science cognate of Public Administration through Liberty University.
In Wilson’s Mills, Hess will “do about everything,” Hicks said, including patrolling.
Hess replaces Roy Aycock, who recently retired. The department is two men short now, so his first task is to recruit new officers. The sheriff’s office is helping out in the interim, Hicks added.
In an e-mail Hess said he was humbled to have been offered the position in Wilson’s Mills, a town of about 2,300 in Johnston County.
When reached by phone, he said he began seeking to move up to mid-management or take on other leadership roles about two years ago. He didn’t know where he’d end up, but added he was “willing to go wherever God led me.”
Hess and his family currently live in Youngsville. They’ll be moving to Johnston County as soon as they can find a residence.
“It’s been great. It’s been busy,” Hess added. “I’m very excited. [I feel] very privileged.”