Looking over Sylva Police Chief Tammy Hooper’s legacy, one criticism comes to mind:
It was too short. Sept. 14, 2017 to Aug. 1, 2019.
We’ll add two caveats to that criticism.
One, Hooper has punched the law enforcement clock in this county for 30 years, and a well-deserved break is in order.
Two, in her two-year tenure she left a positive mark.
The job as police chief came to Hooper after years of hard work. She started in law enforcement in 1989 as a secretary and receptionist for a former regional drug task force that included Jackson County. She slowly moved up the ranks, become a jailer and dispatcher before being offered a detective’s position working on juvenile sex abuse cases. During her climb up the ladder she worked full time and also attended basic law enforcement training at Southwestern Community College.
She joined the Sylva Police Department in 1997, became assistant chief in 2004 and chief in 2017.
Hooper rattled off a few points of pride during her time as the town’s chief law enforcement officer: New technology, upgraded equipment, additional training.
“I’m really proud of the new weapons, active shooter ballistic vests, communications, Mobile CAD (computer aided dispatch) system,” Hooper said. “These were very important items to assist officers with everyday operations and to ensure officer safety. SPD officers have had numerous specialized training courses such as hostage negotiation, drug interdiction, narcan (Naloxone), an additional department instructor, along with implementing an Emergency Operations Plan for each of Sylva’s special events.”
As chief, she has overseen a 15-officer department and a budget of about $1.2 million.
“I think after 30 years, it’s now time I spend more time with my family,” she said. “This is a top-notch department and it will continue to be one, regardless of who sits in this (the chief’s) corner office.”
“Tammy has done an amazing job,” Town Manager Paige Dowling said,
Hooper has been a very visible presence in the community and downtown, and we credit her for tirelessly working to make the streets safer for pedestrians. On numerous occasions the Sylva Police have launched campaigns to raise awareness of the rules regarding pedestrians and automobile traffic, and Hooper was often front and center in those efforts.
She also helped strengthen ties between the community and law enforcement. Hooper said, “We’ve done that by having different events. We had the Civilian Police Academy, Treat Street, women’s self defense class, HOPE (march for breast cancer awareness) and National Night out. We patrol the daycares daily by going inside and visiting with the staff and children. It builds great relationships between the kids and police officers.”
Hooper has no plans to fade into the woodwork. She said, “I want to do more volunteer work within the community. I’m hoping to work with Meals on Wheels. I’m going to have to do something. I love having day-to-day contact with people.”
“I’m honored for the opportunity to have worked with such great officers and to have served the people of Sylva,” she said. “The town of Sylva has been really good to me.”
Hooper leaves office with a good record and a love for the town she served.
Well done, Chief.