For the last 35 years, David Campbell has proudly worn the badge of a police officer in Angier. For the last baker’s-dozen years he’s served as a lieutenant, but on Friday it all came to an end as he retired from the job.
“It went by fast, it went by fast,” he said. “It was interesting and there was a lot of great people I’ve met along the way. And that’s the sad thing about leaving today, I’m going to miss all the people.”
Campbell admits there’s very little he’s not seen as a police officer, many of it giving him new insight from each situation. He calls the span “an eye-opener.”
“I’ve seen just about everything there is to see as far as crime and people’s lives,” he said. “It’s been an eye-opener and it makes you look at your own life differently.”
He says if anything, those eye-openers have made him learn to appreciate all he has and to realize how each person is affected by each moment of a situation differently. He says he also realizes how lucky and fortunate he’s been through it all.
“You learn to appreciate everything you have,” he said. “You realize that everybody’s got their own problems they have to deal with and you’re always more fortunate than somebody else.”
Campbell said there’s been things he’s learned and things he’s never learned, calling his entire career a chance to learn something new each time out. He says when it comes to meeting people, he’s learned how to get along with even the most stubborn or unlikeable people he’s dealt with for three and a half decades.
“I’ve learned how to get along with just about anybody,” he said. “And how to be a better person myself and have a better perspective on life.”
As for learning on the go, he admits there’s still a lot he hasn’t been able discover just yet. Even with that in mind, it’s taught him a few things as well.
“A lot,” he said when asked what he hasn’t learned. “I learned something new everyday and that was one thing I did learn early on, to do a lot of listening and never be afraid to learn something new.”
Over the last 35 years it’s difficult for Campbell to put a finger on the best memories he’s acquired. He says there have been so many good memories, if he had to choose one that stood out he would have a little trouble — again a lot of it goes back to the people he’s been around as co-workers and acquaintances.
“There’s so many good memories,” Campbell said. “Good times with the guys and all the new people you’ve met and had experiences through life with them. It’s tough to say one thing, there’s been way too many.”
While the good memories are difficult to split, he doesn’t hesitate when you ask about what was the most difficult aspect of his job. He cites the system itself as being, at the very least, difficult when it comes to seeing the bad guys taken off the streets.
“Every time you arrest somebody, it doesn’t mean they’ll be convicted of a crime, even if you know they did it. Or be punished,” he said. “That’s always been a little frustrating, that we work so hard sometimes and people still don’t get punished.”
As for climbing the ladder of success, Campbell says he’s enjoyed it all the way from the time he spent as a patrolman on the beat, through heading various departments within the Angier Police Department, to training officers — which is something he plans to continue to do.
“I’ve done a lot of teaching and I’ll continue to teach,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed doing that and I think that’s been a highlight of my career.”
-The Daily Record