Troutman Police Chief Matthew Selves is leaving the department on May 10 for a new job.
TPD Chief Selves receives accolades as he prepares for new position
Pictured (from left) are Troutman Police Chief Matthew Selves, I-SS School Board Chairman Martin Page, Vice Chairman Churck Gallyone and Superintendent Brady Johnson.
BY DEBBIE PAGE
As Chief Matthew Selves’ days as head of the Troutman Police Department wind down, the community is honoring him at several events. Career and Technology School (CATS) Principal Larry Rogers hosted a luncheon recognizing the chief on Tuesday afternoon.
As attendees feasted on meat or vegetable lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and an array of desserts prepared by CATS culinary students and staff, Iredell-Statesville Schools and local officials thanked Selves for his dedication to keeping students and the community at large protected and secure.
After welcoming guests, Rogers congratulated Selves on his new opportunity as Public Safety Risk Management Consultant for the N.C. League of Municipalities (NCLM), but noted it will be a sad day on Friday, May 10, when he officially leaves his post.
Rogers expressed appreciation for Selves’ role in getting a School Resource Officer for the CATS facility. “The whole time I’ve been here and had the opportunity to work with him, his main concern was schools and the town being a safe place where people can come and go,” the principal said.
He presented Selves a framed certificate acknowledging his support and service to the town and the SRO program.
Superintendent Brady Johnson, along with School Board Chairman Martin Page and Vice Chairman Chuck Gallyon, presented a plaque of appreciation to Selves for his commitment and leadership in providing student and staff safety.
“We were sad to hear about Chief Selves leaving us,“ said Johnson. “He’s not leaving the community, and he assured me that his children are staying in our schools. He has a special status in that not only is he a public servant, but he is a customer of the Iredell-Statesville Schools because all three of his children are enrolled in the school district.”
“He is such a great person to work with, and he takes school safety very, very seriously. I cannot tell you the number of lengthy conversations we have had about school safety,” the superintendent added.
Johnson also joked that Selves is “very good at twisting your arm, trying to squeeze a little more blood out of that turnip, as he did here at CATS and South Iredell” to get I-SS partial funding for the SRO positions.
The entire Troutman Police Department also earned Johnson’s praise. “They do an exemplary job of providing services for schools here in the Troutman community, long before it was popular to have resource officers in schools,” he said.
“They just served the schools as part of the community, the elementary, middle, and high schools and the career academy. They didn’t do it because somebody told them to. They did it because they saw it as part of their responsibility to protect and serve the community.”
“Every single day you go above and beyond the call of duty to keep this community safe, and we are very, very grateful for your service.”
Page thanked Selves for being great to work with, noting that the population of Troutman more than doubles each day school is in session. “That puts a strain on all your resources. The chief has been very good to provide the SROs, back up, and resources any time we’ve needed them.
“Your staff goes beyond their duties to help us out. We are going to miss you,” Page added.
District Attorney Sarah Kirkman has worked with Selves for many years. As a detective, he investigated the first murder case Kirkman tried in court.
“We’re going to miss you, Matthew. You have always been professional, courteous, and knowledgeable. The Town of Troutman owes you a debt of gratitude for protecting and serving its citizens, and we will miss you in the law enforcement community,” she said.
Kirkman presented a plaque to Selves from her District 32 office thanking Selves for his dedication to service, safety and justice.
Mayor Teross Young joked that with the upcoming presentation at the council meeting, Selves was “milking this as much as he can.”
On a more serious note, the mayor talked about the tough week the community just experienced with the shootings at his UNCC alma mater and the killing of Officer Jordan Sheldon in Mooresville.
“I know how tough it is for chiefs who support our schools and community and for the gentlemen who put on those vests each day and go out provide safety and security,” Young said.
The mayor thanked Selves for his time, service, and commitment to the Troutman community and schools. “A lot of parents in this community thank you for all you’ve done.”
After promising Selves a roast at Thursday night’s council meeting, Town Manager Justin Longino said he was “lucky to have the privilege to work with Matthew as my first police chief. I couldn’t have had a better one. He’s done a great job.”
“From my perspective, I’m always very budget-conscious. The chief has done a great job writing grants, whether its been for schools, traffic safety, or equipment for officers. I see that support he gives them every day.”
Selves thanked everyone for their kind words and support, saying, “That’s one of the reasons that’s making it hard to go.”
“I’m still going to be part of the community," he added. "You’ll see me around. I’m just going from chief to reserve officer. I’ll still be with the town at parades and events, and I’m still going to write grants for the town as long as the new chief wants me to do it to help the town.”
Troutman staff members, police officers, and Town Council members were among the special guests who attended the event.
In a recent interview, Selves said he is looking forward to the opportunities and challenges of his new position, some of which will allow him to work from home. He wants to stay on as a reserve officer in Troutman “to keep connected to law enforcement and see what the trends are.”
After completing more human resources and risk management training, Selves soon will begin serving over 400 police departments throughout the state.
He explained that one of his main tasks will be training officers in ways to reduce risk. The NCLM purchased a simulator to train officers to de-escalate situations. Because Selves was certified in the simulator, he will now take it to NCLM member departments to conduct training.
He may also work with some fire departments as well since firefighters are increasingly placed in harm’s way in non-fire responses.
Selves will also handle bulletproof vest grants for departments and facilitate training to help officers avoid 1st (freedom of speech) and 4th amendment (search and seizure) violations. He will also lead safe-driving training for towns whose NCLM-insured administration, officers, or public works drivers have an usually high number of traffic accident incidents.
Selves will also provide management and leadership training to assist municipalities in promoting well-qualified people.
Large police departments earn Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) certification, the gold standard for these agencies, according to Selves.
However, smaller towns cannot afford this extensive process. Instead, Selves can go into these smaller communities and look at their police departments’ policies and procedures, evidence handling, training, discipline, use of force policies, advanced officer certifications, and other areas so that they can earn an NCLM certificate of best practices and also reduce their insurance premiums.
Selves will also recruit new towns and police departments to join the NCLM.
Selves chose to take this new position to allow him to stay local and continue to raise his three children with wife Leigh but also support the town, which is a member of the N.C. League of Municipalities.
On his arrival in Troutman, Selves headed a department that relied solely on town funds for its operation. “I really wanted to look outside the box and find revenue streams that wouldn’t impact the general fund as much,” he said.
“I did that through a lot of grant opportunities. I knew the town was going to grow watching growth moving up the interstate from Charlotte, and with growth comes cost increases in salary, vehicles, radios, and equipment.”
He also noticed that the department lacked emerging law enforcement technology, so he wrote grants to purchase VIPER radios, data terminals (computers) for patrol cars, tasers, an RMS system, and mobile data information systems.
Selves also wrote grants to gain Governor’s Highway Safety Program funds in 2009 and 2011. He used the money to hire patrol officers to address the growing traffic along the U.S. Highway 21 corridor, which reaches up to 15,000 cars per day.
A four-year grant also helped fund 75 percent of an SRO at Troutman Middle. He hopes that Iredell Charter Academy will budget for an SRO next school year.
During his 12 years as chief, Selves has brought in more than $1 million in grant funds, grown the department from eight to fourteen full-time officers, and managed all of the department's resources during a period of exponential growth.
Longino said this extra grant funding was helpful to the budget since it allowed the town to expend resources in other areas.
Additionally, Chief Selves is responsible for building the SRO program that boasts three full-time School Resource Officers serving South Iredell High School, Troutman Middle School and CATS.
Selves’ department has also secured funding during his tenure to teach the G.R.E.A.T. and D.A.R.E. programs in the middle school.
He was also instrumental in implementing a K9 program in 2008, first bringing in K9 officers Lord (deceased) and Odin (retired). The department more recently added K9 Jackpot to the force, with another K9 hopefully joining the department soon.
The department Selves leaves behind is seasoned, with an average of 18 years of experience. “Getting the right people who know how to do the job, who are self-guided is important," he said. "They do everything. They type up their reports on their own with no administrative help.”
Selves also started the annual National Night Out celebration in 2009 to shape good community relations as well as the local monthly Coffee With a Cop program with McDonalds in 2016. He also innovated community relations by designating days when officers stop drivers who are doing the right thing and reward them with donated gift cards.
In an interview, Longino said that Selves was popular and well-liked in his department and in the town. Because he was involved in a lot of good things in the community, Selves’ “level of involvement will be missed.”
Longino is pleased that the staff will continue to work with Selves through his new position with the NCLM.
During his a 22-year law enforcement career, Selves also worked at the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office and the Statesville Police Department. “It’s those bonds that you have developed with officers, not only with your current department but with your past departments, you love that. That’s one of the things I’ll miss the most.”
“Relationships matter, and I’ve had good relationships with other departments and officers. I have a lot of respect for law enforcement officers in Iredell County,” he said.
Selves said that small town chiefs must be qualified to do a lot of things. He suggested his replacement have a background in grant-writing, management, and leadership training and also be committed to sponsoring events to build police-community relationships.
The candidate should also have good knowledge of all areas of police work, according to Selves, including patrol, criminal investigation, and narcotics. Administrative experience to deal with increasing paperwork and officer certifications is also important.
Selves anticipates the need for more patrol and school officers in the next few years, which will likely be a focus for the Town Council and the next chief.
Longino said the chief position has now been posted on the town’s website and the search is underway. He expects the town to have an interim chief for a while.
Because Troutman is an attractive and growing community, Longino expects significant interest in the job. The council, department, and staff want to find a candidate who will be the right fit for the community.
Because this is a high-profile position, Longino will solicit input from all community stakeholders to establish the criteria for the new candidate. He expects that officers and town officials will be surveyed and that perhaps a public meeting may be scheduled for community comments.
Longino said a commitment to community policing will be an important hiring criteria. The town wants to continue to grow and improve the police force as the town grows but still maintain the small-town feel.
The new police chief would also need to continue Selves’ high visibility in the community and maintain the excellent service level for both the town’s core and the satellite annexation areas, according to Longino.
Because of the expected growth, Longino said the new chief will need to continue to be forward-thinking to anticipate town law enforcement needs and avoid the potential pitfalls of population growth and an expanding enforcement area.