SOUTHPORT -- One of Southport's own has received the biggest honor of his career. Chief Jerry Dove says the beauty of Southport will keep him the town for a while. Dove has spent his entire career working in law enforcement. He's been in Southport for 28 of his 41 years on the job. He's been the town's chief of police for the past four years. "Law enforcement is a very challenging career field, there are a lot of heart aches, but there are more rewards in it than there is anything else," Dove said. Now the state of North Carolina is rewarding him. Chief Dove was honored with the Order of Longleaf Pine, the highest civilian award one can receive. And many officers who have the opportunity to work with a veteran know why. Sgt. Mike Williams said, "He's about as fair as anybody can be, everybody around here loves him, and I know why." Chief Dove retired from the force in 1994, but realized he couldn't take off the badge. "I think once a person has chosen this field, it's had to get out of," Dove said. As Southport's police chief, Dove has implemented programs to keep his small town close to him by keeping a checklist of the elderly to check on weekly -- and by developing a mentor program for children in the area. Even after four decades of service, he says as long as he's able to do the job, he doesn't plan on leaving again anytime soon. "I hope that as long as I'm here, and as long as the tradition of the Southport Police Department will allow, that we still have that small town persona, where people feel good about coming to see their chief of police, they can talk to their police officers, and I want to continue that," Dove said. Chief Dove and his wife live in Southport, and they couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
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