Rockingham police officers recognized

Dawn M. Kurry and John Charles Robbins Richmond County Daily Journal

August 17, 2013

Rockingham Police Department officers received certificates of achievement this week, and the agency has welcomed a new police officer.

At the August meeting of the Rockingham City Council, Police Chief Billy Kelly introduced new police officer Josh Gilbert.

Gilbert, 30, of Rockingham was sworn in on May 13, 2013, after graduating from Basic Law Enforcement Training at Richmond Community College in October 2012. Gilbert is currently going through field training, according to Chief Kelly.

“He’s doing very well in his training,” said Kelly. “He’s not behind on anything. Once he’s completed his training he’ll move to the patrol division and will perform day shift.”

Kelly said he is pleased with Gilbert’s performance so far.

Sergeant Andrew Ansley and Detective Shawn Paxton were each presented with an Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate at the meeting, and Chief Kelly said they are each outstanding officers who have worked hard to advance their training and education while continuing to serve their community.

According to Kelly, Ansley has been in law enforcement since 2000, and has been with Rockingham Police Department since 2006. Shortly after joining the police department, Ansley became a K-9 officer, and he handles Leica, the first K-9 to be purchased by Rockingham Police Department. Ansley lives in Rockingham and is married with two children.

Paxton, 32, of Rockingham, has been in law enforcement since 2002. Most of his police career was spent in Rockingham, apart from a brief period during which he spent time training police officers in Iraq. Paxton handles Crime Scene Investigation as well as other investigations. According to Kelly, Paxton maintained his caseload while earning his Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate.

Paxton is also working on his associates degree through Stanley Community College and plans to continue his education after that at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

“I encourage every law enforcement officer to pursue an advanced certificate and degrees,” said Paxton. “I have to thank Rockingham Police Department and the Chief. I could not have done it without them.”

Detective Larry Tunstall was presented with a Completion of Criminal Investigation Program Certificate, after 500 hours of coursework, which must be completed within a three-year period to earn the certificate, according to Kelly.

According to Tunstall, he took courses in child death investigation, interrogation and 80 hours of crime scene processing. Tunstall has been in law enforcement for 15 years and has been at Rockingham Police Department for five and a half years. Tunstall also holds an Interim and Advanced Law Enforcement Certificates, as well as a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice from UNCP.

“I want to thank the Chief and the City of Rockingham for allowing me … to do this,” said Tunstall. Kelly also commended Tunstall on maintaining his caseload while he was attaining his education.

Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris congratulated each of the officers receiving plaques at Tuesday’s meeting, with a handshake and words of encouragement.

“I know you’ve all worked very hard” for this advancement, Morris told the men.

Councilman Travis Billingsley also praised the officers — and Chief Kelly — and said continued education and advancement is important and is a “testament” to the quality and caliber of the officers working for the Rockingham Police Department.

Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at