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‘I cannot thank the community enough’: Butner Public Safety Chief Danny Roberts retires after 33 years

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BUTNER Butner Public Safety Director Danny Roberts sat at his desk recently and pondered life after retirement. Now that day has arrived.

Roberts retired effective Thursday with 33 years and one month service at Butner Public Safety. Roberts said he will miss the coworkers he’s shared so much time with and the people in the community the most.

Roberts graduated from South Granville High School in 1982 and originally signed up for electronics engineering at Vance Granville Community College, but decided at the last minute to change his career path to criminal justice. He had an uncle who was a police officer in Durham and different life experiences led him to serving the people of his community.

Roberts began his career in public safety in July 1984 at Duke University Public Safety and remained there through June 1986. While working at Duke, he enrolled in the BLET Program at Vance-Granville Community College.

He started at Butner Public Safety in July 1986 and rose through the ranks, becoming a K-9 officer in 1989 and then an investigator. He served as a master officer in 1991 and became captain in 1996.

Under the previous structure, he was promoted to chief of police services in 1999. Through numerous job title changes he was appointed as director in 2012. In 2013, the town of Butner became incorporated and took over the responsibility for the Public Safety Department. Roberts has the distinction of being the first director under the town’s guidance.

“I stayed a lot longer than I thought I would, but I said whenever I start looking forward to Friday more than I look forward to Monday, I know that it is getting close,” Roberts said. “It finally came around.”

Roberts said he’s been proud to serve his community and feels that living and working here has been important because everything he does impacts him, his family, his friends and everyone that he interacts with on a daily basis.

Roberts said he has tried hard not to have Butner labeled as a “speed trap town,” but he hopes the residents think of BPS as their friends. Robert said he often hears positive comments when he goes to church or to the grocery store and it makes him feel good about the work he and his staff are doing.

Roberts said he could talk about events in his career for weeks, but one he clearly remembers was falling through the floor of a burning building and the flames began to surround him. Bobby Burger reached down and grabbed him by the collar and pulled him up away from the danger. Roberts said he felt like Burger was Superman that day.

He cited one of the scariest situations was not one of physical danger, but of the state dropping BPS as an agency. He said that every year since 1986, the legislature always discussed doing away with Butner Public Safety and during his first year as director, the legislature decided to eliminate BPS. Roberts worked closely with the town and said they were supportive of the idea of taking on BPS. He said the thing he dreaded the most turned out to be a most wonderful thing with the town taking over.

Looking ahead, Roberts does not plan on taking another job anytime soon. He said he is looking forward to spending time with his two-year-old grandson, doing things for his parents and sharing time with seniors at his church. He plans on traveling some, going to West Virginia, riding his RZR sport side-by-side with friends, and maintaining his pinball collection.

“I cannot thank the community enough for their support over the years,” Roberts said. “As an administrator in public safety, it is hard to make everyone happy. You have one citizen wanting you to get cars to slow down on their street and another citizen calling about getting a speeding ticket on that street. It is a balancing act, so I want to thank them for their patience, understanding and support over the years and helping us with that balancing act.

“We have a great community and they have made our job a lot easier.”

Roberts made sure to thank all BPS for their efforts, saying he knows it is not always easy and often a thankless job, but he has appreciated the way the officers handle themselves.

“I have been truly blessed from the first day on with the opportunities,” Roberts said. “I had one lady tell me, ‘you will not always be recognized for your efforts, but always try to do your best, always try to do the right thing and in the end it all works out.’”