Town officials are happy with his return. “This was an easy decision, based on the overwhelming support and grass roots effort of our citizens,” said Town Manager Tony White. “Chief Patterson is one of the people, a native son all our residents know and respect.”
Mayor John McNeill said he’s very pleased Patterson will be heading the local department.
“As a patrol officer early in his career, Ronnie accounted for 75 percent of the arrests in the Red Springs Police Department,” said McNeill. “He has a huge job in front of him, but I know he has the ability and the overwhelming support of the community and the governing board.”
In May of 2008, former Red Springs Police Chief Troy McDuffie reorganized the police department, reassigning two officers: Patterson, a captain in the department, was moved to the Red Springs Middle School as the School Resource Officer sergeant; and Sgt. Billy Tharpe, former SRO at the school, was made an administrative sergeant, taking some of the responsibilities of the vacant captain's position.
The reorganization came on the heels of a sexual harassment complaint filed by an ex-employee. McDuffie was not at liberty to discuss particulars in that complaint, and would not say if the reorganization of the department came about because of the complaint.
Then just a little over one year ago, Patterson was terminated by former Police Chief Troy McDuffie. Sources inside the police department had linked the termination to an internal investigation prompted by a complaint from a federal agency.
Citing privacy issues, McNeill said he could not discuss the details of the firing but he implied the termination was unwarranted.
“I can say that according to other law enforcement officials, there has never been any investigation of former Captain Ronnie Patterson, nor has there even been a request for an investigation,” said McNeill.
“Ronnie is trusted by the community. I heard some of the drug dealers in one drug-infested area are already packing up,” McNeill added.
The police department has been looking for a new chief since McDuffie left for Spring Lake late last year.
Steve Gillikan, a recently retired police chief, served as interim chief until last week.
Robeson County District Court Judge John Carter will perform the swearing-in ceremony for Patterson at 7 p.m. at the Red Springs community building Thursday night. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.
Patterson is married to Naomi Patterson. They have two children, a son, Derrick, and a daughter, Risa; and a grandson, Onterio.