KPD swears in new officers
Kinston’s first female K9 officer Jessica Stewart and her partner Brix. Photo by Catherine Hardee / Neuse News
Wednesday was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and the Kinston Police Department celebrated by holding its pinning ceremony to welcome 10 new officers to the force.
A standing-room-only crowd was on hand as the new officers received their badges and were officially sworn in. Kinston Mayor Don Hardy addressed the new officers, speaking about the honor of service, and thanked them for choosing to serve and protect the people of the city.
David Culbreth, William Dunn, Emily Gray, Sydni May, Robert Mewborn, Lucas Miller, Violet Mills, Gidis Johnson, Omar Rodriguez and Andrew Rogers were introduced and each had their badge pinned on by a member of their family. Culbreth, Dunn, May and Rogers are all graduates of North Lenoir High School, while Johnson and Rodriguez are both veterans of the Marine Corps.
Chris Dunn, who pinned the badge on his son, William, said he is very proud of him, and all the new officers. ”They all work hard, and long hours…they put themselves in danger every day for all of us,” he said.
The newly-pinned police officers then took their oath of office, swearing to uphold the constitutions of the state of North Carolina and the United States, and to protect and serve those in the community.
The ceremony also recognized the promotion of officer Brian Biggins from corporal to sergeant. Biggins has served in the department in several capacities, including as a training officer and a detective, and the promotion recognized his excellent service.
Another milestone for the department was the introduction of the newest K9 officer, Jessica Stewart. She made history for the KPD as its first female K9 officer. Stewart said she earned a degree from N.C. State in animal science, and worked as a vet tech, but she decided she wanted to help people as well, so she became a police officer. When the department had an opening for a K9 officer, she leapt at the chance to use her training in her new career.
She introduced her new partner, Brix, who she said “is way smarter than I am, and he knows that!”
Stewart said he is the best partner she could ask for, and she looks forward to serving the community with his help.
KPD Chief Alonzo Jaynes then addressed the new officers, welcoming them to the force, and urged them to take pride in their accomplishment of becoming police officers, and to never let their pride in the badge diminish. Being a law enforcement officer is never easy, he said, but it is a calling, not just a career, and they have the potential to leave behind a legacy of service to their community.