Kannapolis Deputy Police Chief Terry Clanton has retired after working for the Kannapolis Police Department for 36 years. He will continue his career in law enforcement as the Director of Law Enforcement Training at Guilford Technical Community College.
A native of Cabarrus and Rowan Counties, Terry always wanted to be a police officer. “As a child we would watch television shows and movies like ‘Adam 12’ and I wanted to be just like those police officers. I wanted the excitement of the job and to make a difference in my community,” he recently said. His parents wanted him to be a teacher but after a year in college he convinced them that law enforcement was the right choice for him. They were supportive after that. “My parents and my wife, Eva, of 33 years, are the reason I have been able to have the freedom of a career in policing.”
Terry was hired in 1984 at the age of 21. He was given a hand-me-down 38 revolver with wooden screws, a hand-me-down uniform and a used Mercury Zephyr. At that time the Kannapolis Police Department was part of the Cabarrus County Sherriff’s Department because the City was not incorporated yet. Things have changed since then. The City was incorporated, and the Kannapolis Police Department became a stand-alone organization. Policies and procedures were put in place and equipment and technology instituted and maintained to help police officers do their jobs better.
Over the years Terry has worked in patrol, investigations, staff services, and support services as he was promoted up the ranks. He says his favorite time was spent in the investigations unit. “I was serving in a supervisory role, but I was also involved in everything happening with our cases and helping the people who were involved in the incidents,” he said.
When asked about the cases he remembers the most he recalls an incident where a woman was being assaulted. He and his partner were in a nearby home responding to an earlier incident involving the same suspect when they heard the elderly person screaming. They ran to that home and were able to apprehend the suspect and rescue the woman. Another incident involved a woman who lost her baby in an accident and trying to comfort her. “The cases that stick with me the most vary between those where we have been able to really help someone while others have been the senseless violence that has negatively impacted our residents,” he commented.
“I am most proud of the fact that we have great citizens. The people of Kannapolis are good people. Sure, we have some criminals. Every city does, but the overall mindset of our citizens is that we do not want crime here and we are not going to tolerate it. People here help us solve crimes. We see that every day in every neighborhood.”
“I am also proud of our department. We are a team and a family. When I first started there were 48 people in the department. Now we have over 100. We are more diverse with our officers coming from different backgrounds and cultures – just like our growing population. We are well trained with the best equipment a department can have. We are an accredited professional department that demands excellence and professionalism from our officers. Although the department and the City have grown, the mindset of the department is the same. We are here to help people. Our motivation is to make a difference in our community. I will our team and family here but I am excited for my new position and the fact that I will still be in the law enforcement field,’ Terry stated.
Kannapolis Police Chief Woody Chavis who has worked with Terry during his entire career stated, “Terry was dedicated, loyal, and a true professional. His contributions to this agency and the profession were huge and unmatched. He was an integral part of all of the accomplishments that our agency has achieved over the last 36 years.Terry was a true friend and will always be remembered for his commitment to the citizens of our city. May God grant him peace, safety, and happiness in the next chapter of his life.”