Alumni, Press Releases

Dean Edwards: Community Leader

NCC Alumnus, Dean Edwards

NCC Alumnus, Dean Edwards

Nash Community College is proud to have alums who are pillars of the community and give back in more ways than one. Dean Edwards is no different.

Edwards is a retired North Carolina State Highway Patrol Lieutenant. He currently serves as the Assistant Chief of Police for the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and as a Nash County Board of Education elected official.

“The opportunity (to work for the airport) fell in my lap,” said Edwards. “I have always loved airplanes and airports, and even worked at the Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport when I was a teenager. Some decades later, I was excited to apply for the Assistant Chief of Police position at the RDU International Airport.”

This was a nationwide search that had 32 other candidates from all over the United States. “I was ecstatic when I found out that I was chosen for the position.”

Edwards has had a unique road to travel to where he is now.

“Larry Mitchell, who was leading the NCC Criminal Justice Associates Degree program in 1990, worked with my dad as a Rocky Mount Police officer.  I knew him and knew he was extremely good at policing,” said Edwards. “I wanted to learn from him. I also knew NCC had good things going as a college and it was less expensive than other colleges. Considering that Mr. Mitchell was the program lead, and that NCC was close to home, made my decision easy.”

NCC was the solid choice for Edwards. The timing worked in his favor and was the first step to expanding his career.

“During the time I was deciding where to go to college, I saw many of my friends graduating from NCC and then advancing their careers,” said Edwards. “Choosing to attend NCC was a no-brainer.”

Edwards is a legacy student. His mother graduated from the nursing program in the 70s and he has always known about NCC and its potential to provide a great education.

“I knew NCC had a great criminal justice program,” said Edwards. “The classes were magnificent, and most importantly, the material was extremely timely.  We discussed things like criminal law, constitutional law, patrol techniques and criminology. All of the essential topics of the core law enforcement practices were embedded in the curriculum.”

“NCC provided me with the foundation to set me up for the future and made me realize the importance of furthering my formal education,” said Edwards. “It also prepared me for the NC State Highway Patrol Basic School.  The academics I learned at NCC made the academic portion of the grueling Basic School easier because I was able to understand the instructors in an environment that was quite stressful. The academics I received from NCC took the academic stress off me during basic school.”

He attended NC State Highway Patrol school in 1997 and put in 30 years of service with the state. He served in positions all over the state from Dare County to Rowan County. “Serving as a State Trooper, has allowed me to see the importance of how education and parenting influence children in becoming productive citizens of our communities,”

Edwards went on to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Organizational Development and has worked toward completing his Ph.D. in Business Administration.

He has a deep appreciation for public education.  He started volunteering at schools and conducting fund raisers for them. He was then elected to the Nash County School Board of Education in 2018.  He is very passionate about school safety, community engagement, and technology.  “My vision for our school system is that it is so good that people will move here because they want their children to attend our schools which will help prosper their children’s and Nash county’s development.”

Edwards retired from the NC State Highway Patrol in the winter of 2019 and stayed home with his children while they were attending school virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.  He knew it was important for them to have direct oversight until they could get back to classroom learning.  “My biggest overall accomplishment is raising my two boys,” said Edwards. “Raising them is the biggest joy of my life. I knew during the pandemic that I had to be there for them and be a stay-at-home dad. After they went back to the classroom, I knew it was time for me to go back to work because I felt they needed to see their dad back at work demonstrating to them a strong work ethic that I want to instill in them. Plus, GOD gave me an able body and I feel that serving him in a public service capacity is my calling.”

A core moment in his professional career that he will remember for years to come is the impact he has on the individuals he has come across both on and off duty.

“Overall, of course, the officers that I have trained for their promotions and seeing them go from one step to the next is a plus because these are the same people that I felt would make amazing leaders,” said Edwards. “In several cases, people that I have mentored and coached have been promoted past me and have become my supervisor.”

There are lives that Edwards has come across over the years that have been changed for the better.  He recalled one event where his interaction with a young person helped them dissolve their drug addiction.

“I stopped an individual on Interstate 95 and found drugs and drug paraphernalia in their vehicle. This person looked like drugs had taken over their life. The person asked for help, and I was able to provide them with some resources. Several months later, I was upset and disappointed when I went to court, and I did not see the person waiting in the courtroom.  I started thinking that they had not learned anything and was not taking responsibility for their actions. The Assistant District Attorney (ADA) called me over and asked if I would be upset if she went ahead and plead this particular drug case.  I was confused because I did not see the person in the courtroom. I got chill bumps when the ADA called the person up because I hadn’t seen them in six months, and this person looked so much better than the night I saw them. A complete turnaround of their life.  Since the night I had arrested them, this person had gone through a drug rehabilitation program, other management classes, started back to school, and had gotten a job.  This person told me that I was the reason they turned their life around,” remembers Edwards.  “You do not forget hearing and seeing something like that.”

Nash Community College educates for the future and stays on top of trends.

One of the ways that Edwards gives back is by teaching the knowledge he has learned over the years to NCC cadets in the Basic Law Enforcement Training program under Director Tim Mehus.

“What I realize now, by teaching cadets at NCC, is that NCC BLET and CJ programs are strong because the directors and instructors continue to modernize the content and ensure what the students are learning has relevance in today’s ever-changing world,” said Edwards.

Edwards is thankful every day for the life and foundation that NCC was able to provide. He has a few words for prospective students to think about.

“Sometimes, what a person needs is someone to just communicate with them and meet them where they are,” said Edwards. “For a person teetering on a decision of whether they should go to college or not, I would talk them through and help them understand that NCC provides a list of different courses and services that will help them be successful.”

NCC has played an impactful role in Edward’s life that is beyond words.

“If I had to start my education pursuit all over, I would start with Nash Community College all over again,” expressed Edwards.