Gregory retires from VSP
Published 6:36 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2019
James Gregory, a 31-year veteran of Virginia State Police (VSP) and Drakes Branch resident, signed off from his shift for the last time Friday.
Gregory began with VSP in August 1988 at 22 years old. His retirement is effective Friday, Feb. 1.
When he first worked with VSP, Gregory said in an interview Tuesday he had a preliminary probationary period in the Richmond area before completing basic academy. During this period, he accompanied a Field Training Officer (FTO).
After graduating from basic academy, Gregory said he was assigned to the areas of Greensville and Brunswick counties.
Gregory said he worked in that coverage area for 11 years before transferring back to the Charlotte and Halifax area in 2000.
Gregory, during his career, was present in some of the most defining demonstrations in Virginia in the late 1980s. Gregory, during the start of his career, said he was assigned for two-week shifts at coal mining strikes in Southwest Virginia.
He was also among numerous police officers assigned during the Greek Fest Riot in Virginia Beach in 1989. Gregory said he, other law enforcement agencies and armored vehicles formed a large wedge as a riot-control tactic.
He estimated there were approximately 450 police officers in the area at any one time.
He said his youth and confidence prevented him from seeing the danger that he and everyone present at the riot were in.
Gregory said he “signed up for action,” and he said his career certainly proved to contain action.
“There were good times, bad times, happy times, sad times,” Gregory said about his career with VSP. “Overall, it was a great experience and I’d do it all over again if I had the opportunity to start over.”
During a typical shift, Gregory said officers can be faced with anything from traffic to criminal cases. Shifts could include anything from responding to fender benders to armed robberies and murders.
“You never knew what any day held beforehand,” Gregory said.
Gregory, an experienced musician, DJ and recording artist, said he plans to continue pursuing music in his retirement.
Gregory said over his career, he has noticed an uptick in major crimes and traffic accidents. He said with the increase and advances with electronic devices such as cell phones, inattentive motorists also appear to be on the rise.
He said VSP’s equipment has also changed over time. When Gregory started, he said police received a handgun, a shot gun in the police vehicle trunk and a knifestick, which Gregory said officers were not allowed to carry on their belts due to the weapon appearing too intimidating. Gregory said presently, equipment officers have include pepper spray and an asp baton. An asp baton can be stored compactly but can expand to a full-size baton. Gregory said mobile terminals, cell phones and GPS were also installed in police cars. He said he remembers pulling off roads to use payphone booths to make calls.