The police department here has seen changes in leadership positions over the past few months, and has drawn exclusively from its own pool of officers to rework the roster.
When Det. Sgt. Scott Bassett took a job with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation in November, it opened the door for favorable shifts, including one promotion, for three veteran members of the department.
Police Chief Tim Hayworth said the decisions to fill vacancies internally came easy for several reasons.
“We’ve really been blessed with a fairly low turnover rate,” Hayworth said. “That’s really unusual for a fairly small police department – I don’t know of any department of our size that has had the retention rate we have. Because of that, we have veteran police officers we can choose from to promote. A lot of departments don’t have that opportunity.”
The reward for the officers comes not only from the duration of their service, Hayworth said, but also for the quality of their service.
“As long as we are able to promote from within, we try to do that,” Hayworth said. “We never close the door and say we’ll never hire from outside, because we can’t do that. But we also want our officers to know that hard work and longevity pay off.”
Bassett’s departure “kind of created the domino effect,” Hayworth said.
Filling the position Bassett vacated is Det. Sgt. Ashley Dixon, who was first hired as a patrol officer in 2006.
The new title for Dixon marks a return from the patrol division back to the detective division. She was a detective before being promoted to patrol sergeant. Dixon’s salary of $45,777 remains unchanged.
After an assessment process in December, Brandon Lane was promoted to patrol sergeant, taking Dixon’s previous post. With the promotion, he was given a 5 percent salary increase, from $45,143 to $47,401.
Lane was hired as a patrol officer and climbed the ranks to detective and now to his latest assignment over his 11 years with the department.
David Wanamaker was also hired as a patrol officer in 2008. He was reassigned to fill Lane’s previous position as detective. That move was also considered a lateral shift and his salary of $41,591 remained the same.
While the chief said Bassett will be missed, he is also proud to see one of Zebulon’s own recruited to work in a specialized SBI unit.
Bassett served nearly 13 years in Zebulon. He started in 2003 as a patrol officer and was promoted to patrol sergeant in 2006 before being transferred to the detective division. He also served on the department’s bicycle patrol unit.
“He was a huge asset to our department, but he’s going to a specialized computer crimes unit investigating crimes against children on the Internet,” he said. “For them to recruit and hire a person from our department is just a confirmation of the level of employees that we have here and the type of job our people are doing.”
Bassett previously represented the Zebulon department on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which Zebulon joined after receiving grant funding two years ago that paid for special investigative equipment.
The task force is a national network of agencies that targets offenders who use technology to sexually exploit children.
“What he did with the task force is what he’s doing full time now,” Hayworth said.