Making Henderson a better place
Irvin Robinson will tell you he has two families: the one he was born into and his fellow law enforcement officers.
“This is a tight-knit family,” he said. “And we all try to help each other.”
After 35 years of service, Robinson is retiring from the Henderson Police Department at the end of the month. He is the longest-serving member of the department.
“I’m not going away fully,” he said. “I’m still going be a reserve officer and volunteer with community events.”
Born and raised in Vance County, Robinson said he always wanted to follow in his relatives’ footsteps and become a police officer.
His grandfather on his father’s side, Zeb Robinson, was a constable in Vance County.
On his mother’s side, Robinson’s grandfather, Thomas D. Hardie, was a police officer, District Court judge and magistrate in Vance County.
An uncle, Ronnie T. Robinson, was a Henderson police officer for 20 years.
Another uncle, Kenneth Roberson, was police chief in Henderson for 17 years. He was in law enforcement for more than three decades.
Lt. Alan Hedgepeth of the Henderson Police Department has worked about 26 years with Robinson, who was Hedgepeth’s sergeant when he first came to work for the department.
“He has always been a very devoted individual to the city and to the department itself,” he said of Robinson. “And he’s spent his career trying to do his part to make Henderson a better place.”
A 1977 graduate of Vance Senior High School, Robinson joined the police department Feb. 8, 1979.
He was a patrol officer until 1989 when he was promoted to sergeant in the division.
Robinson can remember several times in his career as a patrol officer where he feared for his safety.
Years ago, he said he responded to a domestic dispute call off Andrews Avenue.
“The guy was a mental patient and he had a rifle, and he came out of the house and started shooting,” he said. “We didn’t know if he was shooting at us or what. He barricaded himself in the house, and we had a standoff for two or three hours. My adrenaline was pumping and we didn’t know if he was going to come back out and start shooting again. This man had a rifle and all I had was a handgun. That’s a scary thing.”
After 10 years as a sergeant, he was promoted to lieutenant and then assigned to crime prevention in 2000.
As the crime prevention officer, Robinson has increased the number of community watch organizations in Henderson.
“Right now, there are about 34 community watches in the city,” he said, compared to about 10 when he first started. “We still have several areas in the city that need community watches. We ask people to go ahead and start a community watch in their area because they are our biggest help in preventing crime.”
Robinson said gangs, drugs and juvenile crime problems were always present in Vance County. But they have worsened over time.
“But as the years go on, it has grown,” he said. “It just seems like now it’s more going on because of the economy and lack of jobs. We don’t have any industry here, and we don’t have any jobs here, and that’s what’s causing a lot of our crime. The other thing is we don’t have anything for the kids to do. That is just something we have to work on. We have to give them something to do instead of having them pursue the criminal element.”
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