Published: Jul 07, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Jul 07, 2012 03:44 PM
APEX - For more than 35 years Jack Lewis has worn a badge and carried a gun. But effective Jan. 1, the career policeman is turning in the tools of his profession.
Lewis, 58, who serves as Apex’s police chief, announced his retirement on Monday.
“A light just goes off. This is the right time for me,” Lewis said. “I hope I’ve been a decent policeman. Now it’s time for me to work on being a husband and father.”
He may also spend some time antiquing with his wife and collecting wine.
He first put on a uniform in 1974, when he served as detention officer in Danville, Va. A year later he joined the Danville police department. He left in 1978 for the Lynchburg Police Department in Virginia where he rose through the ranks to become a deputy chief. Lewis took the helm of the Apex Police Department in March 2005.
Although he’s made his career in police work, Lewis didn’t always know he wanted to be a cop. After high school he decided not to go to college. He was working as a car salesman and started volunteering with the Danville Rescue Squad. Hanging out with firefighters and police officers allowed Lewis to discover his passion for helping others.
“I liked what I saw,” he said. “When you got in a car you went to help people. You protected other people. I realized that I might be able to make a difference.”
According to Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly and Town Manager Bruce Radford, Lewis has definitely made a difference.
Weatherly credits Lewis with the town’s low crime rate. Radford joked that to cover what Lewis had done for the town would take hours to list.
Top on the list was Lewis’ management of the Environmental Quality Disaster. About15,000 residents were forced or encouraged to leave their homes after an EQ warehouse blew up on Oct. 5, 2006.
“When the stakes are at their highest, Jack is cool, calm and under control,” Radford said.
Police handled the evacuation and security of the area.
During his tenure, Lewis oversaw the construction and planning for the current police building, increased training for leadership and ethics, started a special response unit, implemented a crisis intervention team and boosted community outreach, Radford said.
The Christmas with a Cop program was started and National Night Out has become a really big deal under Lewis’ leadership, Radford said.
Lewis also initiated the three-year national accreditation process in December 2010.
“He’s an outstanding chief of police, mentor and friend,” Radford said. “Jack is just first rate in every conceivable way.”
The town will conduct an open search for Lewis’ replacement and Radford said he hopes to name a new chief by mid- to late-December.
While the department’s national accreditation process is pending, Lewis said he’s happy with what he’s accomplished. He said he’s proud of the high case clearance rate, traffic safety enforcement, domestic violence initiatives and community outreach.
“I have no real reason to have any regrets,” Lewis said.