By Dave Russell
Sylva leaders gathered Tuesday afternoon to say goodbye to a 12-year veteran of the police force. Sylva Police Chief Chris Hatton presented Lt. Bruce Moore a plaque to show appreciation for his service.
“I went through Basic Law Enforcement Training in 2002, so it has been a little over 20 years I’ve been in law enforcement,” Moore said.
Moore worked for a while at the old jail near the historic Jackson County Courthouse, but came to the SPD from the Western Carolina University Police Department.
He joined the SPD as an officer under Chief Davis Woodard in 2010 at the same time current Jackson County Sheriff Doug Farmer was hired as his sergeant.
About two years later, he was promoted to sergeant and in 2015 moved to day shift.
Then-Police Chief Tammy Hooper promoted Moore to lieutenant, a position he held when Hatton came aboard in 2019.
“It has been a wonderful working relationship ever since,” he said.
Moore has taken great pride in the new officers coming to the SPD.
“It has been such a hard time for law enforcement,” he said. “It’s good to see the officers we have here now. They are unsurpassed in integrity and professionalism. Anywhere.”
Busting a functioning, mobile meth lab in 2014 stands out as a favorite memory.
“It was in a truck that was parked over in the Dollar Tree parking lot,” he said. “That came from a tip I had gotten from Chief Hooper. That was a memorable case because I believe both defendants ended up getting around 10 years, I believe. They had quite a bit they had already made and were in the process of manufacturing more.”
Moore will be joining the Clay County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol lieutenant.
A meeting with Clay County Sheriff Mark Buchanan, a Jackson County native, partially led to his decision.
“He is a retired SBI agent and hearing his vision for Clay County, my own home county, is something that I really got behind and can support,” Moore said. “I am very excited to get the opportunity to go work for him.”
Moore was born and raised in Clay County, which has changed a lot, he said.
“It has grown to the point that sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own hometown,” he said. “It’s just gorgeous over there, there are a lot of recreational opportunities.”
Law enforcement has changed over his tenure, especially tech.
“We didn’t have computers in the car, we had to handwrite all of our reports and citations,” he said. “When I went to work at the old jail, you had keys, and literal bars on the cells, and now it is so advanced. Everything is electronic, they have steel doors and plexiglass, body scanners.”
Home in Clay
Moore and his wife, Michelle, have a 7-year-old daughter Audrey in first grade.
Both Moores have strong family connections in the area.
“We have elected to stay closer to family,” he said.
Moore likes to hunt, fish, camp, hike or anything outdoors, he said. He and his family have taken up mountain biking.
“It will definitely be great to get back home and be close to home and all that, but don’t think for one minute I’m not going to feel a void because the people in this town they have been so supportive of the police department,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of communities and their law enforcement agencies work so well together. I attribute that 100 percent to Chief Hatton and his leadership style.”
“We have had multiple agencies offer him jobs,” Hatton said. “Clay County put together a good enough deal that he was ready to make the change. He will most certainly be missed. We’re already working on procedures to get somebody qualified in the position.”