When Steve Hall began working with the Wendell police department in 2007, he already had 12 years experience in law enforcement.
But one of his first assignments here was directing traffic in front of the elementary school.
He had to shepherd a fleet of hurried, sometimes harried, parents into the school drop off line, while keeping his eye on the students waiting to cross Wendell Boulevard at the crosswalk in front of the school.
Hall, 47, says he didn’t mind the chore. He says his goal was to get the children to school as quickly as he could and get the traffic moving through the congested intersection as soon as possible.
He’s graduated from that chore in the eight years since and now he serves as a sergeant, leading one of four patrol divisions in the Wendell Police Department.
And earlier this month, Hall added one more title to his resume: Town employee of the year.
Hall was recognized at the town employees’ Christmas dinner on Dec. 10. He almost didn’t make it to the dinner. But his wife, Lorinda, suggested he go and take their sons, because she wasn’t feeling well.
Hall said it took no time at all to recognize himself when Town Manager Teresa Piner started her surprise announcement before the town’s employees.
Though he recognized himself in Piner’s description, he said the award caught him by surprise. “I said ‘Wow. I don’t believe this,’” Hall said. “I just feel a great sense of appreciation.”
Piner’s presentation referred to Hall as a storyteller, a description police Chief Bill Carter said is accurate.
“He always has a good story from his past experience, but he’s not like these people who tell a story just to tell a story,” Carter said. “His stories usually try to make some point about whatever is being discussed.”
Hall is a native of Wake Forest and graduated from Wake Forest-Rolesville High School. He later joined the Louisburg Police Department, where he worked for 12 years before joining the Wendell police department.
Carter says Hall balances the concepts of teamwork and leadership well. “He’s very approachable, not just by other people in the police department, but really by any town employee. He’s willing to step up and help when we need it and he’s a good mentor for our young officers,” Carter said.
Among his other duties as a patrol sergeant, Hall is also the department’s CIT coordinator, training officers in how to deal with crisis intervention in situations where mental health issues are at the center of a problem.
He tells the story of one call he took in which a man was wielding a gun. Hall unholstered his own weapon, but he talked to the man and realized he was having hallucinations. Instead of arresting the man, or worse – shooting him – Hall was able to calm the man enough to take him to a mental health facility.
“I saw that man several months later and he said he remembered me and he thanked me for helping him that day,” Hall said.
Hall said he likes small town police work because there are times when the results of his work can be seen immediately. He responded to a call about a break-in.
The thief stole a six-year-old girl’s bike. “I took the report and while I was talking to them, I got a call to come to Thompson Field. When I got there, Jody Wall had the girl’s bike. When I took it back to her, she was so excited to have her bike back. It was really a nice moment,” Hall said.
Call it an employee-of-the-year moment.