Longtime officer retires

Published 9:40 am Friday, March 2, 2012

The accolades for retiring Troy Police Captain Vance Ventress ranged from a bottle of Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup to a citation from Gov. Robert Bentley honoring his 30-plus years of faithful service.

A retirement celebration was held for Ventress at the Troy Municipal Complex Wednesday afternoon and attended by fellow officers, city officials and employees and family and friends. Ventress was recognized for his long service to the Troy community with plaques, gifts and words of sincere appreciation.

Ventress’ career with the Troy Police Department began in 1972 as a reserve officer and he worked his way through the ranks to 1st Lieutenant on the third shift and then Captain of Staff Services in 2002. As a TPD Captain, Ventress was in charge of the dispatchers and the jail and was also the technology guru for the department.

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Troy Police Chief Jimmy Ennis said almost the whole command staff of the TPD started under Vance Ventress.

“And that says an awful lot about him,” Ennis said.

Former TPD Chief Grady Reeves said the lieutenant on the third shift is the most important position in the police department.

“All the rookies come through the third shift,” Reeves said. “The lieutenant has his work cut out for him. I didn’t have to get up at night because of the outstanding job Vance did. He kept the rookies in line and enthusiastic and I say, ‘thank you.’ He served in a way that he can be proud of.”

Troy City Councilman Jason Reeves said, not only did Ventress run the third shift effectively and efficiently, he also spearheaded the department’s delve into the world of technology before hardly anyone knew much about technology.

“Vance was hired to replace Steve Watkins, who was the last Troy police officer to die in the line of duty,” Reeves said. “No one deserves a happy retirement more than Vance Ventress.”

Ventress stepped into empty shoes but one fellow officer after another said that he has been an outstanding officer, public servant and friend.

Troy City Council President Johnny Witherington said, too, that Ventress has served “so faithfully and valiantly in such a dangerous vocation.”

Ventress didn’t consider the dangers of his vocation when he made the decision to go into law enforcement.

“I don’t know why, but I always wanted to be a police officer,” he said. “I started as a dispatcher and was a patrol officer for two years. Then I went to work in the family business for six years. But I missed being in law enforcement and, in 1982, got back in.”

Ventress helped organize the TPD’s K-9 unit and was the lieutenant on the “night shift” for 17 years.

“I enjoyed the night shift. For all those years, I thought the world revolved around the night shift,” Ventress said, laughing. “It was strange moving to the day shift.”

Ventress said he can truly say that he enjoyed every duty he has performed as a police officer.

“But, it’s been 30 years now and we have a new chief and he needs to set his people up,” Ventress said. “So, it’s a good time for me to retire. People have told me that ‘when it’s time, you’ll know.’ I know it’s time.  I’m going to just do nothing for a while, go fishing and spend time with my mother, Sue, who is 92. Then, we’ll see.”

Ventress has good friends on at the TPD and took their good-natured ribbing with a smile. Some called him “Leo;” others called him “The Wizard.” He seemed genuinely proud of the bottle of ketchup and the other fun gifts and very appreciative of the kind words and well wishes.

“You have a lot to be thankful for,” retired TPD chief Anthony Everage told Ventress. “And, we thank you. You can leave with your head held high. You are a good person with a good heart and we wish you all the best.”