Jacksonville hires former military police officer under new law

Jacksonville Police Department became the state’s first to employ an officer sworn in under military credentials.

After more than two decades as a military police officer, William Hollis III, 41, repeated the oath as his 15-year-old daughter, Hazel, held the Bible at Jacksonville Center for Public Safety on Tuesday afternoon. Soon after, she pinned her dad’s new badge amid the gathering of local, and state, dignitaries and officers.

North Carolina law now recognizes military-police certification in civilian law enforcement. Hollis is the first to wear the badge under the new legislation effective June 3, according to N.C. General Statutes.

Under the new law, N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission “shall waive an applicant’s completion of the commission-accredited training course and issue probationary certification to a current or honorably discharged former military police officer,” according to General Statutes.

To become a police officer with military certifications under the law, former service members must have:

• Completed a military-police training program.

• Been awarded a “military police specialty occupancy rating.”

• Performed duties as a military police officer at least two years of the five years before applying for civilian law-enforcement certification.

• And meet other standards required of law-enforcement officers.

Hollis is completing 120 hours of basic law-enforcement training education sections pertaining to state law, he said.

“To some degree, I know what I’m getting into. To another degree, it’s significantly different,” Hollis said, adding that entry-level civilian officers have extensive responsibility compared to military counterparts.

Retired Maj. Gen. Bob Dickerson, who is a member of the N.C. Military Affairs Commission, attended the ceremony. Dickerson was in command when military police were “civilianized” aboard Lejeune about a decade ago, he said.

“Now, I’m fortunate and lucky to still be in the same community when we’re starting to reverse that process,” Dickerson told The Daily News. “It’s a pleasure to be able to see the MPs get the credit without having to go through the full gamut of basic law-enforcement training, to get credit for what they’ve been doing on base. The basic requirements are the same.”

N.C. Division of Veterans Affairs Director Ilario Pantano was among those lined up to congratulate Hollis.

“Warrior, congratulations,” Pantano told the new officer.

Afterward, he explained the new law’s utility in the Tar Heel State.

“This is the town, this is the place to do it,” Pantano said of the law’s inception in Jacksonville. He said the demand is rising for such a skilled labor force, which he hopes will remain in North Carolina after serving in the military.