WISE — Teresa Meade’s experience with law enforcement included setting up neighborhood watch programs as a citizen volunteer when she applied for a job with Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes .

Meade is ending that career on Thursday, after moving from crime prevention officer to patrol assistant to lieutenant as she spent 20 years overseeing department recertification cycles.

“When the job of crime prevention officer opened up, I applied and became a deputy on July 1, 1996,” Meade recalled Wednesday. “They let me build the work around what I wanted to do for the community.”

The job creation saw Meade take on multiple tasks – DARE instructor, self-defense instructor for women and children, patrol assistant, forensic investigator in child abuse and sexual abuse/assault cases – as that his responsibilities increased and that his rank advanced.

“I had already taken crime prevention courses when I started at the sheriff’s office,” Meade said, “and I was able to get certified. It was a great opportunity to help make people safer.

With seven years teaching DARE classes at Wise County schools, Meade said she’s seen that time come full circle.

“We were fortunate to have 12 of my former DARE students hired by the department,” Meade said. “It’s wonderful when you see them and they look at you and say, ‘I remember you. You taught in the DARE class.’ ”

In the administrations of Oakes and current Sheriff Grant Kilgore, Meade became the department’s credentialing officer. Overseeing state certification of department personnel, policies and equipment, she said it means less work and more opportunity to tell officials about the department’s successes in meeting standards and serving the community. community.

“When we started the accreditation process, (former deputy chief) Gene Vanover put me to work helping him,” Meade said, “and I became the accreditation manager over the course of of the past 20 years.”

Meade worked with Kilgore when he was the last Oakes chief deputy, and she credits him with supporting and working for reaccreditation over the past two decades.

“It’s a chance to share with others the hard work and dedication our officers do every day,” Meade said. “Even though I’m retiring now, I didn’t want to leave Grant out when he got elected. I would never have let him hang.

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Meade said her mother – a former Rescue Team employee – “lives vicariously” watching her work as an assistant.

“She called me every night after work and asked me what adventure I was having that day,” Meade said with a laugh.

Meade was once prompted during a Virginia State Police helicopter search to find a stolen four-wheeler because she had lived in the area. After the crew found her, Meade said, they asked if there was anything they could do for her.

“We flew over my parents’ house and circled around,” Meade said. “My dad came out with a pair of binoculars and I held my arm out the window so they could see the patch on my jacket. He started waving at me, and my mom came out in her dressing gown and started waving at me too. It was a great day.

Working on domestic violence and child abuse cases has been difficult during his 26-year tenure.

“These cases are heartbreaking, especially the child sexual abuse cases,” Meade said. “Being able to handle interviews and help bring out information, however, was an opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives.”

One day away from retirement, Meade said she looks forward to spending time with her 11-year-old granddaughter and 2-year-old autistic grandson.

“It keeps me busy, and the work we’ve done in the department’s Lifesaver Project has helped me learn more about working with people with autism,” Meade said. “He’s smart and handsome, and we spend most of our time together.”

Along with being a stay-at-home grandmother, Meade said she’s also been looking forward to using the kayak her husband bought her and spending more time redoing the furniture.

“We now have a house on Lake Cherokee, but I will try to visit the department from time to time and be there to offer advice to deputies when they ask for it,” Meade said. “I loved watching these deputies who were kids in my DARE classes and watching their kids grow up too.”

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