MINT HILL, NC – On December 31, Mint Hill’s Chief Tim Ledford will step down from his role as Mint Hill’s Chief of Police, bringing a close to a nearly 45-year career in law enforcement.
With over four decades in law enforcement, it may surprise people to hear that Ledford once envisioned quite a different future for himself. “Back in the early 70s, I was working with my father, who was a general contractor,” says Ledford, who was working on earning his own general contractor’s license and intended to follow in his father’s footsteps. “A National Guard recruiter came by and talked to our class about joining the military and being a military policeman, and I thought, what a novel idea.”
After basic training, Ledford completed military police school. “When I came back, I had gotten a taste of law enforcement as a career,” says Ledford. “I went and saw the local police chief in Franklin, NC, and he put me to work, and the rest is history.”
Ledford worked in Franklin for several years before helping to start up a new police department in King, NC, in the mid 80s. Ledford stayed in King for 22 years, rising to the rank of Chief of Police for the last five. In 2008, Ledford beat out 120 candidates to be chosen as Mint Hill’s new Chief of Police.
It was the “down home” atmosphere of Mint Hill, it’s friendly and welcoming citizens, that convinced Ledford and his wife to make the move here. Twelve years later, the community is still Ledford’s favorite part of living and working in Mint Hill.
“The support that we get in Mint Hill is just astounding,” says Ledford, who feels lucky when he speaks to police chiefs from across North Carolina about their own communities. “They’re having a hard time gathering support from the community. Not so in Mint Hill. The people here love their police department. I’ve probably gained ten pounds just in the last few years from all the food stuffs that the community brings to the police department!”
“I think it’s because we’re an approachable agency,” continues Ledford. “We get out and talk to people, we ask them what we can do better. We get feedback from the community.” It’s exactly this type of community interaction that Ledford hopes will be his legacy at the department. “Volunteers in Police Service, Police Explorers, Citizens Academy, National Night Out, Coffee with a Cop – we like to get out and interact,” says Ledford. “We’re there when the citizens don’t really expect us to be, and we are very fortunate to be able to initiate these programs and be a resource for the community other than answering calls for service.”
It’s exactly the advice Ledford leaves for Captain Joseph Hatley, who will follow in his footsteps as Mint Hill’s next Chief of Police. “Get out and shake people’s hands,” advises Ledford. “Well, maybe not so much in the COVID environment,” he adds, “but the citizens of Mint Hill love to be able to have access to their police chief. They want to see you out and about so they can walk up and casually pass on their comments, where it’s a complaint or congratulating an officer on a job well done.”
An adjunct professor of criminal justice in local community colleges for over 15 years, Ledford plans to continue teaching both criminal justice and basic law enforcement training after he steps down. “After 45 plus years in law enforcement, I think it’s time to pass the baton to someone else,” says Ledford. “I’ve had a very good run. I still have several more years ahead of me that I feel like I can be productive. However, I think it’s time for a new chapter in my life.”
It goes without saying that Mint Hill’s citizens and officers will remember Ledford’s time on the force fondly. “We could talk about this for hours,” says Captain Hatley when asked if he has any words of gratitude for the outgoing chief, “but to keep it brief: good job. It’s been an honor and a privilege to work for him, beside him, near him. I know he’s not going to be a stranger. He says he’s going to be the one calling 911 every five seconds! We’ll see how that turns out.”