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Police work is a lifelong passion for interim chief
Eddie Cassady, interim Martinsville police chief, became interested in law enforcement as a teenager and has worked in the field ever since. He joined the city police force in October 1985 and stayed even after he was offered a position with the state police. “I decided to stay here, and I’m glad I did.” he said. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Friday, August 23, 2013
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
With little fanfare and nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience, Eddie Cassady took over as Interim Martinsville police chief on Aug. 1.
Cassady, 49, a Henry County native, filled the vacancy created when Mike Rogers retired as police chief at the end of July.
Any changes Cassady has made in his first weeks on the job are low-key. Perhaps the most noticeable is the blue dress police uniform that now replaces the street clothes he used to wear to work.
“I just wanted to wear the uniform,” Cassady said when asked about the change.
His affinity for law enforcement began when he was a teen.
“I was 15 or 16 years old when James Rogers (Mike Rogers’ father and former Henry County sheriff) started the first Explorer Camp in the Henry County Sheriff’s Office,” Cassady said.
Many patrol cars were serviced at the Mayo River Texaco station, which Cassady’s father, the late Stafford Cassady, operated for many years, Cassady said. He learned about the new camp during a routine service visit for a patrol car.
Cassady said he was one of the first three teens to attend the camp that was overseen by deputies John Norman and Jerry Atkins. The three teens “basically rode with the deputies,” he said, adding that the experience made him decide that he wanted to be a police officer.
In 1985, Cassady applied for his first job in law enforcement with the Martinsville Police Department, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police.
He joined the city force that October. A year later, the state police called “and wanted to hire me. But I decided to stay here, and I’m glad I did,” Cassady said.
He worked his way up through the ranks while continuing his education, said Cassady, who graduated from G.W. Carver High School and then spent a year at Danville Community College. He received an associate degree from Patrick Henry Community College; a bachelor’s degree through Old Dominion University; and a masters — with a major in sociology and an emphasis on criminal justice — from Longwood University, he said.
“I was glad to get my educational career over with. It took me forever,” he said with a chuckle.
But Cassady’s advanced lessons haven’t stopped there, nor will they. He is a strong proponent of lifelong learning, and his life is a good example of it.
For instance, he graduated from the 228th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico.
“I waited seven years just to be accepted” into the class, Cassady said.
When he got in the class, Cassady said he learned that methamphetamine was gaining ground in West Virginia and Tennessee. “Now, all these years later, we’re starting to see it in Martinsville,” he said.
He also traveled to Los Angeles for a weeklong diversity training session hosted by Holocaust survivors, and was a long-standing member of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) Response Team for central and southwest Virginia for many years, he said.
A past member of the department’s dive team, Cassady also was commander of the SWAT (tactical) team. He has since appointed Lt. Rob Fincher to that position.
Cassady also spent several years as a firearms instructor at the Piedmont Regional Criminal Justice Academy, “but I haven’t done that since I became captain,” Cassady said of the post he attained in December 2001. Before that, he was lieutenant of the Special Investigations Unit (also called vice or the narcotics unit by some).
He has various other training and certifications to his credit.
That continued training “absolutely is something I will continue” in his new post, Cassady said.
His initial goals as interim police chief are “to keep the police department running as smooth as possible,” he said. And Cassady regularly seeks input from other officers during staff meetings about “how to do things better and provide the best service to the community.”
“We are working hard to make sure we continue to provide the best service possible to residents,” Cassady said. “That’s the most important thing.”
“There are a lot of professional men and women who work in this department. That is a reflection of the quality of the applicants hired and the training we provide,” he said.
In his new post, Cassady oversees 50 sworn officers and several administrative positions in a number of specialty areas.
Cassady lives in the Dyers Store area. Besides his father, his family includes his mother, Cecelia Cassady; daughter and son-in-law, Ashley and Ronnie Lovitt; two grandchildren, and his fiancée, Elva Pugh.