Police Chief Danny Bowen to retire this Friday
All good things must eventually come to an end.
And for Danny Bowen, who has been the Albemarle Police chief since November 2015, that means retirement. His last day is Friday.
There will be a reception for Bowen from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday in the Ray Allen room at City Hall.
Bowen knew he would be retiring in early 2019 about a year ago.
Jesse Huneycutt, who is the current assistant chief, will be the interim police chief until the department finds Bowen’s permanent replacement.
“Chief Bowen has come to mentor me in the process of administration,” Huneycutt said. “I’ve learned a lot from him and hate to see his leadership go. I’m certainly going to miss him.”
Bowen has been with the police department since September 1990 and he has worn many hats while working his way up the police department chain. He was sworn in as a patrol officer, then he became a D.A.R.E./school resource officer, a police detective, accreditation manager, assistant chief and chief.
“I never had any idea that I would be lucky enough or blessed enough to be the chief,” he said.
Bowen especially enjoyed when he was a school resource officer getting to know the young children at several elementary schools.
“I really enjoyed working with the kids and working with the schools,” Bowen said. “That was probably the best position as far as fun.”
Bowen would watch the students during recess and would often eat lunch with them. He got to personally know several of them and as they’ve grown up, he still sees many of them in the community.
“You were kind of a celebrity” to the students,” Bowen said.
“The most satisfying part of the job is when you get to help somebody,” Bowen added.
He specifically referenced finding a missing child or providing justice to a victim by making a key arrest.
But he said the job is more challenging today than it was when he first entered the force in 1990 because “of all the new stuff that we didn’t have in the ‘90s,” especially body cameras and social media.
But while there is so much new technology for the officers to learn how to operate, “it’s been good for them,” Bowen said.
Body cameras come in handy to record situations and they provide definitive, objective statements of fact, Bowen said.
“Social media is probably the biggest struggle for law enforcement to deal with,” he said because so many people can easily log on Twitter or Facebook and make comments “about things they think we should have done or ways they want us to do things.”
Bowen said he will most miss seeing his police colleagues each day.
“My biggest struggle in retiring is that I will not get to be around these people and see them every day,” he said. “I really do think of them as my extended family. … they’re the people I spend most of my time with.”
He has had several people in the community tell him they appreciate what the police department does and they will miss him.
“That really does mean a lot,” Bowen said, “because you want to leave on good terms and feel like you’ve done something good. We’ve really tried to do the best we could for the community.”
Bowen has several post-retirement plans.
He and his wife, Evelyn, look forward to going on several cruises and he plans to spend quality time with his four grandkids. He also plans to play golf, pickleball and fish.
“Stay busy, that’s the big thing,” Bowen said.
And a big twist that will surely keep him busy: In late January, Bowen found out the identity of his biological mother.
“I was like numb, just ‘wow,’ ” he said.
Bowen had entered his birth information into an online registry about 10 years ago and in January, he was contacted that his birth mother also entered her information into the same registry.
“For some reason, the stars lined up and…the registry contacted me to confirm my information and they contacted her to confirm her information and then they gave contact information to each one of us,” he said.
And a few weeks ago, not knowing anything about them, he officially met his birth mother, along with his birth brother and sister, who all reside in South Carolina.
“They’re really nice people and it’s been great,” he said. “We’re looking forward to getting together again and learning more about each other.”
There’s some happy irony in Bowen’s new-found family: “My brother, ironically, is a police officer,” he said with a chuckle. “How about that?”
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