Meet the new hires who are patrolling your streets
In recent months, the Mint Hill Police Department has hired many new officers to help keep you safe. And after next week, when two others are expected to join the staff, the department will have a total of 33 police officers.
The new hires fill open slots and don’t represent an increased budget of police department salaries, Town Manager Brian Welch said.
– Kara Lopp
Wesley James, 27
A former car salesman, Officer Wesley James comes to Mint Hill with six years of law enforcement experience.
The East Mecklenburg High School graduate served as a patrol officer with the Matthews Police Department from 2004 to 2009, before switching gears to sell cars at Keffer Hyundai during the federal “cash for clunkers” program. But, James said, he missed helping people with more than paint colors. So he applied to Mint Hill.
“I like knowing that I’m making a difference in the community,” James said. “I enjoy enforcing the laws, making this a safer place to work and live. I look forward to building good relationships with my peers and the community. It can be rewarding.”
And he has a message for drivers: “I’m a pretty big stickler on seatbelts.”
James lives in Matthews with his wife, Jennifer, and 3-year-old daughter, Audrey. The couple attend Matthews United Methodist Church.
Nathan Wisz, 25
A Virginia Beach native, Officer Nathan Wisz moved to Charlotte with friends in search of more job opportunities. He found them here, joining the department several months ago.
Wisz said he enjoys the family atmosphere of the department. “You actually get to know everybody instead of just being a number,” he said. Wisz, who lives in Uptown Charlotte, has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from East Carolina University.
When it comes to serving Mint Hill residents, Wisz said he enjoys the “small-town kind of feel” and keeps police stickers in his patrol car to hand out to kids.
And there’s no risk of getting bored, he said.
“It’s a hands-on kind of job. It’s something different every day,” Wisz said.
Roberto Marquez, 37
A newlywed who is also a new Mint Hill resident, Officer Roberto Marquez has a decade of law enforcement experience with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office.
Marquez, a native of Troutman and graduate of South Iredell High School, said he sees “a lot of potential” in Mint Hill. And he’s impressed with the reception he’s received so far in a town he’s pleased to see hasn’t lost its “small-town charm.
“They recognize me positively as a new officer, not just another employee number,” he said.
Before becoming a police officer Marquez worked in a factory and as a truck driver. Neither job satisfied, he said.
“It told me I needed to do something with my life,” he said. “(Police work) can be tough from time to time, but at the end of the day, I was always ready to go back tomorrow. I really enjoy working with the public and helping.”
Marquez is married to Jennifer and has a daughter and a stepson.
Jonathan Phillips, 36
Mint Hill’s newest detective has a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering.
Jonathan Phillips earned his degree from Western Carolina University in 1996. A year later, though, he was working as a sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina’s Macon County. He got the law enforcement bug, he says, from an uncle who was a police officer.
“I rode with him a lot” in school, Phillips said.
In Macon County, Phillips served as a patrol officer for two years before earning a promotion to investigations, where he served on a task force aimed to curb domestic violence. Phillips rose through the department ranks, serving as patrol sergeant supervisor and supervisor over civil processes and courthouse security before joining Mint Hill about a month ago. He holds a criminal investigations certificate through the N.C. Justice Academy.
With a desire to see the “big city” of Charlotte, Phillips said he appreciates the “small-town feel” of Mint Hill. He lives in Uptown Charlotte.
“I enjoy doing something different everyday. Some days are mundane and some days are very stressful,” he said. “You meet interesting people and you really feel like you do make a difference in the community you live in.”
Brandon Todd, 25
Officer Brandon Todd comes to Mint Hill with four years of law enforcement experience with the Shallotte Police Department near Ocean Isle Beach.
Ocean Isle is home for the only child, and Todd said he moved to Mint Hill to spread his wings. He’s staying with family in Stallings while searching for a place of his own.
“I just wanted to try something different. To get away from my hometown, have new experiences,” he said.
And what does he think of Mint Hill?
“Everyone in the community’s very nice and I look forward to working with them,” he said.
Todd has wanted to become a police officer for as long as he can remember. In Shallotte, Todd was part of a traffic unit and says he plans to pursue an associate’s degree while working with Mint Hill.
“When I was little, I played with police cars. When I was older, I did ride-alongs. It’s been the dream, and that’s why I love it,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Keith Mickovic, 39
A retired Military Police sergeant, Keith Mickovic said he hopes to stay in Mint Hill until he retires.
During his five years of active duty service in the U.S. Army, Mickovic traveled the globe, including trips to Panama and serving at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in the 1990s when the detention center was used as a processing facility for Cubans hoping to move to America.
The Cleveland-area native said this move from Prince George’s County, Maryland, an area with 1 million people, is about “quality of life” for his family. Mickovic and wife, Brandy, have three children: Brian, 12; Sarah, 10; and Jack, 18 months. The family lives in Indian Trial, just doors away from relatives.
“I’ve always enjoyed the patrol officer function and I think it’s really the baseline for law enforcement,” he said. “So far, Mint Hill’s a great fit.”
Mickovic worked as a patrol officer for the Cleveland Heights Police Department from 1997 to 2000. From 2000 to 2006, he was a patrol officer with the Eastlake Police Department and served on a county task force that received federal training for weapons of mass destruction. He also served as the Ohio city’s arson investigator and has experience as a field training officer.
Mickovic moved to Prince George’s County in 2006 after a budget crunch threatened his position in Ohio. He has an associate degree in law enforcement technology from Central Texas College and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Myers University in Cleveland.
Happy to be away from the “hustle and bustle,” Mickovic said the police department here is like family.
“I really get the sense that it is a family. Most certainly, if I had to pick coming from a larger agency to a smaller agency, this is the place I would want to be,” he said.
Preston Allmond, 29
Three weeks into his law enforcement career, Officer Preston Allmond is pleased his didn’t give up his dream to become a police officer.
The career had always been in the back of his mind, but Allmond – a Denver, NC native – got a job with a Charlotte freight company after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in management and society. He’s a graduate of East Lincoln High School.
After “hitting the glass ceiling there,” Allmond worked as a customer service manager for an auto parts store, and then when layoffs loomed, he joined another company in the hydraulic parts department, he said. And then, in March 2009, he lost his job.
And with the layoff came the nudge Allmond needed to make his dream a reality.
“Growing up, my best friend’s stepfather was a state trooper. Having him around, just really got me sparked,” Allmond said. “But going through college I thought ‘There isn’t any money in it.’ But it’s not all about the money. I would much rather live off a policeman’s salary than make $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 a year and hate my job.”
Allmond lives in Huntersville with girlfriend Tonya Rumfelt, and her 11-year-old German Shepherd, Jada.