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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

UNCP Police Capt. Larry D. McNeill retires after 35 years

The retirement of UNC Pembroke’s Assistant Police Chief and Captain Larry McNeill signals the end of an era of campus law enforcement that spanned 35 years.

Larry McNeill“I’ve worked for four chancellors,” said Capt. McNeill. “When I started, the school was small enough that I used to know almost every student on a first-name basis.”

Capt. McNeill, who was responsible for day-to-day operations of UNCP’s Police Department, retired December 31 with a total of 40 years in law enforcement. A one-year term as president of the Robeson County Executive Law Enforcement Association will keep him in the game at least through 2008.

“I will keep my certification, and if needed, I’ll be around,” he said.

The long-time fixture of campus law enforcement was also re-elected recently to his 5th term as a Pembroke town councilman. His explanation for a successful career in law enforcement should be heeded by any person considering putting on the uniform.

“It’s not about the shiny badge or the uniform,” Capt. McNeill said. “You have to love it, and you have to want to help people.”

A native of the Lowes community near Pembroke, McNeill was attracted to law enforcement at an early age.

“I became interested in law enforcement in high school,” he said. “I started hanging around the Pembroke Police Department and the officers.”

That landed Capt. McNeill a part-time job on the town’s police force that became a full-time job before landing a job at the University.

The assistant chief has seen many changes in campus law enforcement. When he started, University police were classified as “company police” and worked under the North Carolina Attorney General.

“Better training of police has been one of the biggest changes I’ve seen,” Capt. McNeill said. “We go by the book these days.”

Growth of the University is another big change. He was one of four officers on campus in the early 1970s and would pull the night shift alone.

Larry McNeillToday, there are 13 sworn officers on campus and approximately 100 video cameras keeping an eye on things.

“I feel like I’m leaving a great University and a great department,” Capt. McNeill said. “From Chancellor Meadors on down, there are a lot of people who care about students safety and support our department.

“Making students feel safe on campus and maintaining mutual trust is the most important thing,” he said.

The one thing Capt. McNeill feels best about?

“Football,” he said without hesitation. “I’m glad I got to see the excitement that football has brought to campus before I retired.”

What got him through a career that included some long nights and bad weather was “faith and family,” he said.

“I thank God for my wife Glenda, who always supported me,” Capt. McNeill said. “I have four great children too in Matt, Nicole, Fallon and Julian.”

Besides his town council duties, Capt. McNeill is very active in the Pembroke community. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lumber River Council of Governments and U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre’s Law Enforcement Advisory Committee. He is also a rotating deacon of the Berea Baptist Church in Pembroke.

“Above all, I will continue to be a strong supporter of the University in our community,” he said.

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