JEFFERSON-There are a lot of misconceptions Vic Gammons has battled during his 30-year career in law enforcement.
The N.C. Highway Patrol has a ticket quota.
“The highway patrol does not have a ticket quota, but a lot of people think we do,” said Gammons. “It’s actually written by the N.C. General Assembly that we can’t have one.”
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of one his citations, you can rest assured: Gammons had your best interest at heart.
“I feel like I’ve truly been able to help some people out,” said Gammons. “I’ve helped people broken down on side of the road. I think some of the citations I gave made some people think and change their driving habits.”
Last week, Gammons wrote his last citation as he concluded a 28-year stint with the NCHP.
His recent retirement was the tail-end of a long and rewarding career as a public servant, Gammons said.
His itch to serve his fellow North Carolinians began in high school and carried him through some of the harder moments as a trooper.
“When I was playing high school football, there was a trooper that helped coach and I was very impressed with him and the way he carried himself and overall reputation of highway patrol,” Gammons said. “I enjoyed being outside and not being confined to a desk job. I liked the challenges. I wanted to see if I could help people. I went onto work with the sheriff’s department for a couple of years, but I always wanted to be a trooper. I liked the professionalism of being a trooper.”
After high school, Gammons took an entry-level position with the Rockingham Sheriff’s Office from 1987-89. He then saw his dream realized when he then joined the highway patrol.
His first assignment on the road was in Durham County.
“It was pretty busy and rough there for a couple of years,” he said.
Gammons then transferred to Burlington and continued to patrol the roads of Alamance County for four more years.
In 1995, Gammons jumped on an opportunity that opened up in Ashe County.
“I was looking for a nice, quiet place to raise my kinds and have them in good school system,” Gammons said of the switch. “I always liked the mountains. My dad played football at Appalachian in the ’50s and ’60s, so I use to come up here a lot growing up.”
He immediately fell in love with the area and became an integral part of the community as he continued to coach and serve his fellow residents anyway he could.
With a rewarding career has also come challenges while in the line of duty.
“The worst part of my job was having to deliver death messages to innocent families,” said Gammons. “Those were always the hardest.”
One of the more frustrating aspects of law enforcement for Gammons was knowing that many of those deaths could have been easily avoided.
“Most of that sort of stuff is totally preventable,” he said. “Drinking alcohol and getting a car and hurting someone is not an accident. It’s preventable; especially seeing children get hurt for people’s stupid decisions.”
It is because of this mindset that enabled Gammons to do his job without hesitation.
“I’ve made several DWI arrests that I’ve truly believed they would’ve killed someone or themselves or both,” said Gammons.
Throughout his time on the road, Gammons has learned how to develop a thick skin so he can do his job to the best of his ability and be able to go home and sleep at night.
“You have to build a shell,” said Gammons. “You have to get hard to that stuff. The thing that gets you by, or gets us by is that we are so busy. There’s so much paperwork to do, but we owe it to the victims and families in getting our very best in investigations. We are totally focused. We try our best not to put a face to stuff, but there comes a time when your filter is full, like these guys in combat. These guys get their filter full.”
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.