‘Connection with People’

I enjoyed this interview with Major Matt Rice of the Jonesborough Police Department. At the beginning of the interview, he warned me he wasn’t one that liked to talk about himself, much less do an interview. But, by the end of our conversation, he told me I was able to get quite a bit of information from him, something that typically doesn’t happen often. So on that note, enjoy reading about the Town of Jonesborough’s Employee of the Year.

Article published in the Herald & Tribune Dec. 31, 2013 issue

Town selects major as employee of year

Jonesborough Police Department Maj. Matt Rice was named Employee of the Year for the Town of Jonesborough in a recent ceremony during the town’s holiday employee-appreciation luncheon.

Town Administrator Bob Browning said Rice is one of those people who really cares about what he does, and he cares for the Town of Jonesborough.

“Matt is a great choice,” he said. “We have a great police department, and Matt is one of those people that makes it great.”

The award came as a surprise for Rice.

“There are a lot of people in this town that deserve to be recognized,” he said. “There are a lot of other people out there.”

That is what makes the town special, Rice said. Employees work hard every day for the community.

“Everyone who works in this town is a dedicated employee,” Rice added

Rice, who moved from western North Carolina to the area his sophomore year of high school, started in law enforcement in 1998.

“I had a deep-seated desire to help people, and it kind of went from there,” he said.

Rice began as a deputy jailer for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and worked as a patrol officer before leaving the WCSO in 1993. He then accepted a position with the First Judicial Drug Task Force, working there until 1998.

His career continued at the Unicoi County Police Department as a criminal investigator where he also did some drug work.

“There are not a lot of areas in law enforcement that I haven’t been involved in,” Rice said.

In 2004, he became the major for the Jonesborough Police Department. He oversees operations and has four patrol sergeants who report to him.

He also handles criminal investigations and helps plan and implement special events logistics throughout the year for the town.

“I love the job,” Rice said. “I love working for the Town of Jonesborough. I love the community and the people here. There are some good people in this community.”

The team atmosphere and small-department feel is something he enjoys about working for the Jonesborough Police Department.

With the department consisting of only 17 sworn officers, “everyone has to help out in various positions,” Rice said.

With any job there is both good and bad, he added.

The good comes, Rice said, when he has the ability to help people from time to time, to have “that one chance that you get to have a positive effect on someone.”

Such an opportunity came earlier this year when Rice had a chance to save a man’s life.

A dispatched call went out while Rice was in the vicinity. Although he did not know if police officers were nearby, he grabbed an automated external defibrillator and went to the location for the “cardiac arrest, man down” call.

Rice said when he arrived at the location, the gentleman did not have a pulse or respiration.

“I hooked him up and began CPR on him,” he said.

Two other patrol officers arrived and helped Rice administer CPR.

Rice said they had a good outcome that day, which is one of the perks of the job.

The lifetime accomplishments and personal satisfactions are what Rice takes away from the job on a daily basis.

Sometimes it’s as simple as changing a flat tire at 2 a.m. for someone, or putting a little bit of gas in a car that gives him that satisfaction.

Over the years, “the connection with people,” Rice said, is what makes the job so rewarding.