by Jay Callahan
Katie Paterson is a life-long resident of Winston-Salem. She is currently a Lieutenant in the Operations Support Division of the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD). She was sworn in as an officer in 2001, and celebrated her fifteenth year of service in March.
She oversees police training and recruiting, including all in-service training for veteran officers and the Basic Law Enforcement Training for police recruits. Paterson also teaches Subject Control/Arrest Techniques and Physical Fitness for the WSPD.
“Law enforcement officers are never ‘off duty.’ They are dedicated public servants who are sworn to protect public safety at any time and place that the peace is threatened.” Barbara Boxer
Could you ever imagine leaving Winston-Salem?
I could never imagine leaving Winston-Salem. Almost my whole family is here and I would never want to venture far from them. I love this town and everything about it.
Why did you decide to become a police officer?
I wasn’t the kid who grew up knowing I wanted to be a police officer. I was working as a lifeguard for the Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation Department and, as a result, I was able to meet the WSPD Park Ranger, Bobby Boyd. He was so interesting to talk to and I enjoyed listening to the stories about his job. When I went to college, I still had no idea what I wanted to do so I tried a criminal justice class. That got me hooked. I knew at that time I wanted to be a police officer. I graduated from Gardner-Webb University in May of 2000 and started at the police department in August.
If you could choose one event during your time with the WSPD that had the greatest impact on you?
That’s a very hard question. My time at the WSPD has really changed and formed me as a person. I think what has impacted me the most was the death of Howard Plouff in 2007. He was the first officer to die in the line of duty since I joined the department. It was shocking to hear of his death and to be reminded of the dangers that police officers face. His funeral was so powerful. Howard was a great man.
Are there any police officers that were special mentors to you during your development with the WSPD?
My first sergeant at the police department was Dennis Scales. He was everything you picture when you think of an “old school” cop. He had the mustache, gruff voice, smoked cigarettes all the time. He was a intimidating figure for a 22-year-old girl fresh out of the academy. At the same time, he had so much experience and had worked as a detective for years. He taught me so much about investigations and I absorbed everything he said. I truly thank him for getting me started on the right foot at the department. I learned pretty quickly that he wasn’t as scary as I thought….as long as you did your job.
If you were on a stranded island and could just have one breakfast for the rest of your life, which would you choose: Moravian Sugar Cake, Bojangles Bo-Berry Biscuit, Krispy Kreme Hot and Now Doughnut?
Wow, now that’s a hard question. I think I’d go with the doughnut (and that’s not because I am a cop…it’s because everyone loves doughnuts, not just cops).
Which Winston-Salem neighborhoods have you lived in?
I grew up in Hope Valley which is near Wake Forest University. My house was right beside Polo Park and Polo Pool (that made it very easy to get to work as a lifeguard). I still live near Wake Forest. I have always liked that area. There are plenty of sidewalks for running and it is convenient to get around.
What different schools did you go to?
I went to Speas Elementary School, Paisley Middle School and then Mt. Tabor High School. I went to Appalachian State for my freshman year of college and then graduated from Gardner-Webb University.
Who were your favorite teachers at each school?
My favorite teacher at Speas is easy…I would have to say Mrs. Paterson (my mom!!!). She was my 4th grade teacher. And yes, I had to call her Mrs. Paterson. At Paisley Middle School, my favorite teacher was Mr. Rash. He taught my least favorite subject (math), but was the most fun teacher ever. In high school I would have to say that my favorite teacher was Mrs. Davis. She also taught math. She was a kind, patient teacher and I always liked her a lot.
Where all did you have jobs in Winston-Salem before becoming a police officer?
I was pretty active in sports in high school so I didn’t work during the school year. I was a lifeguard at Polo and Bolton Pools every summer from 1993-2000. It was the BEST job. I am so thankful for working as a lifeguard. It was tough work, but very fun. I also worked at Polo Park Recreation Center as a recreation leader. I worked at Rosie’s Hallmark store and Etc. Consignment Shop too.
What are your top three Winston-Salem restaurants of all time?
My favorite local restaurant is West End Café. Such a great atmosphere and the food is delicious. TJ’s Deli will always be near the top of my list.Good, classic deli food. My 3rd favorite would be Sherwood BBQ before it closed. If I had ever skipped school (I will admit nothing since my parents might read this), but if I had ever skipped class, I have heard that Sherwood BBQ might have been the best place to get a biscuit for all Mt. Tabor students in the 90’s.
What is your favorite nickname of our minor league baseball team: Spirits, Warthogs, or Dash?
I always like the Warthogs. No real reason why, but I think it sounds the most like an actual sports team.
Are you more of a Hanes Mall or Thruway fan?
I definitely like Thruway. It has some great stores, and it has Dewey’s. Who can go wrong with Dewey’s??
Where is your favorite day trip outside of Winston?
I love going to Millers Creek in Wilkes County. My boyfriend’s grandparents have a house there and it is so relaxing. We love to trout fish and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery. I also always love a day trip to Chapel Hill. Anytime I am in Tarheel Town is awesome!!
What is your favorite North Carolina Beach?
I usually go to South Carolina beaches, but last summer my family went to Carolina Beach and we really had a great time. It was a quiet beach town that gave us lots of fun, family memories.
Where is your favorite place in the mountains in North Carolina?
As I said before, I love Millers Creek, but I also love West Jefferson. It is a great town with fun little shops and delicious restaurants.
Did you ever go to the original Ziggy’s?
Too many times to count!!! I loved that place.
If so, what was your favorite concert there?
That’s another hard question. I’d say the best concert I ever saw there was by far, The Roots. They were amazing. Such a talented group of musicians, and now I can enjoy them every weeknight on Fallon.
Who is your favorite ACC team?
Love my Carolina Tarheels for almost every sport, but in soccer, I root for the Deacs. Wake Forest has such an amazing soccer program and they are so fun to watch.
Jay Callahan blogs at jmclaincallahan.com
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