New chief reaching out with meet-and-greets

Herald Staff Writer

FERDINAND — New Ferdinand Police Chief Ricky Patton was one of the first responders to the Virginia Tech shooting in Blacksburg on April 16, 2007, while serving as a Virginia State Police trooper.


Patton, 43, said he hopes to never see a scene like that again.

At one point during a series of meet-and-greets with media representatives Tuesday, he remarked that Ferdinand seems 10 to 15 years behind other portions of the country when it comes to crime.

“I’ve love to keep it that way if I have the ability to do it,” said the chief, who started his second week on the job today.

Patton knows small towns. He was born in Fancy Gap, Va. His hometown 12 miles from the North Carolina line is the first community north of Mount Airy, N.C., the birthplace of the late actor Andy Griffith and the town on which the television sitcom “Mayberry R.F.D” was based.

Patton’s predecessor, Ted Bieker, stepped down as Ferdinand’s chief May 17 amid ongoing conflict with the council and the town manager. He remains a captain on the force.

The new chief said his first order of business was meeting individually with his department’s other five full-time officers. He discussed objectives and came away feeling everyone is on the same page, he indicated.

“It is my intention to conform rather than change, unless it needs changing,” he said.

Realizing that some in the community might be on edge after recent events, he set about introducing himself to business owners, school officials and residents Thursday and Friday.

“For the most part, I’m pretty happy with the welcoming they gave me,” he said.

Patton is proud to be a military veteran. He worked a second shift job at a glass factory during his junior and senior years of high school. He began getting “a feel for life” working as a cotton mill technician immediately after graduation and then served six years in the U.S. Navy. He was an aviation electronics technician maintaining carrier jets and helicopters aboard the USS Saipan out of Norfolk, Va. He was deployed four times, twice during Operation Desert Storm, once to Bosnia and once to Haiti before he was honorably discharged in 1995.

Patton grew up with a father in the trucking industry. “That was something I grew up in and had the knowledge of, whether I had the desire or not,” he said. So, after his service stint, he owned and operated a small trucking company, R&A Enterprise, out of Hillsville, Va., from 1998 to  2004.

The trucking business was successful enough for Patton to pursue his dream of going into law enforcement. He was a Virginia trooper from June 2004 to January 2013.

Patton moved to Jasper in October when his wife of 16 years, Amy, was transferred to the MasterBrand Cabinets corporate office.

In his private life, the chief says, he is a “real gear-head as far as cars” and enjoys restoring old automobiles from the ground up. He has a 1955 Chevrolet at the moment.

The Ferdinand job is allowing him to do something he feels strongly about.

“You don’t do it for the money if you are a true law officer,” he said.

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