WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous has been with the city through thick and thin over the last 15 years.
On February 1, he will retire from the department.
“That’s been my entire life, since 19 until today,” Evangelous said. “It was definitely a calling.”
Evangelous has worked with nine police agencies, and has been Chief at four of them. He rounds out his 49-year career here in Wilmington.
“I’ve had a hard time adapting and accepting that my identity changes here at the end of January,” he said.
Throughout his career, Evangelous made stops in Massachusetts California and Texas before landing here 15 years ago.
“Someone told me a long time ago that if you go some place that really well run, you can only screw it up. if you go somewhere that needs work, you can only do better,” he said.
Evangelous says he was ready for a challenge, and that’s how he found Wilmington.
From crime in the city, to limited resources and even issues within the department, Evangelous says times have changed.
“I know we’re in a good place now. we’ve never seen crime rates this low ever,” he said.
He also proudly reflects on all the advances they made with the new training facilities, equipment and technology.
“I was a proud papa. some of these things, people didn’t believe would occur, could occur, but they did,” Evangelous said.
But there is one thing that is most proud of over him time with the department.
“I’m proud of our officers,” he said. “The men and women who do their jobs every day, because without them, there would be chaos in society.”
Evangelous says he owes his successes to city leaders and his officers.
“They are who have made me successful,” he said. “Without them, I never would have made it 15 years. I wouldn’t have made it one year if it wasn’t for the officers. The men and women who go out there every day and get the job done.”
Evangelous doesn’t deny there have been bumps along the way.
“Ee went through a short period of time where we had three suicides within the department,” he said. “Two of them were officers who had recently retired, who committed suicide. Then one who was still working. I have to say, that hit me hard.”
It was some of those hard times, that helped shape Evangelous into who he is today.
As his time comes to a close, he says it’s always been about the team behind him and the people they serve.
“That is what I’m most proud of,” Evangelous said. “That and the relationships in the community.”
As for retirement, Evangelous says he plans to stay in the area and hopefully cross a few important trips off his bucket list.
Evangelous hopes to see the department do great work and continue to grow along with the city.
As for who may take his place as Chief, Evangelous says he does not know yet. He says he will be meeting with the City to discuss a their options.