ROCKINGHAM — For the second year in a row, a Rockingham police officer has been honored by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
Sgt. Marcus Ricks was awarded the Region 6 County Coordinator of the Year last month at the Governor’s Highway Safety Symposium. Chief Billy Kelly presented the award during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
“The award itself is not something Sgt. Ricks strives for,” Kelly told the Daily Journal on Thursday. “He truly has a passion for highway safety. Marcus is an asset, not only to the citizens of Rockingham, but to the citizens of Richmond County.”
Ricks started his career with the Aberdeen Police Department in Moore County, but told council members Thursday he grew weary of the drive and wanted to work in Richmond County.
He started as a patrol officer with the Rockingham Police Department on Sept. 19, 2011 and was transferred to the traffic division. Ricks said the first citation he ever issued was for a seat belt violation.
But Kelly said it’s more than writing tickets.
As county coordinator, Ricks is responsible for promoting and encouraging traffic safety with all law enforcement agencies in the county, Kelly said, adding that he also visits schools and other youth groups to teach them about being safe while on the road.
Ricks, who was promoted from corporal to sergeant earlier this year, was chosen for the position by the Region 6 liason — who happens to be Kelly — and GHSP Don Nail.
The program has 11 regions located geographically throughout the state. Kelly serves as the liaison for the nine-county Sandhills Region, or Region 6, which covers Anson, Cumberland, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, Scotland and Stanly counties.
Kelly, who was awarded Liason of the Year in 2015, said he has been with the program since 2002 and this is the first time that he can recall a county coordinator from Richmond County winning the award.
The mission of the program is to promote “highway safety awareness to reduce the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in the state of North Carolina through the planning and execution of safety programs.”
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.