The Valdosta Daily Times
Det. Robert Raymond was recognized at the recent Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner as one of the outstanding officers of the year for the Valdosta Police Department.
Law enforcement has always been Raymond’s passion, as he grew up wanting to be a police officer in Jacksonville, Ark. The Air Force gave him the opportunity, and he entered the military and served for 20 years in law enforcement at locations around the world.
It was at his last assignment, Robins Air Force Base, that he met an officer from the VPD, Brian Childress. Childress was a reservist and Raymond was his active-duty counterpart. The pair trained other officers for several years together, and when Raymond’s 20-year retirement time came around, Childress suggested that he apply at the VPD.
“He went from being my supervisor to my being his supervisor,” said Childress.
In 2005, Raymond applied for the job. He became a VPD officer in 2006, following his official retirement. He started where nearly all officers do — on patrol.
“I worked on patrol for a year and a half and then went to the Power Squad,” Raymond said. “I’d always wanted to be a detective and when a job came open, I applied.”
He began working as a detective in the person’s crime unit in 2009. The unit conducts all investigations into crimes against individuals, including murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, assault, domestic violence and crimes against children. The five-person unit, with the gang unit, works in tandem to solve the most heinous of crimes committed in the city.
“It can be long hours with not a lot of sleep,” said Raymond. “When there is a murder, shooting, etc., and the individual responsible is still on the streets, we don’t stop until we accomplish our mission.”
The lead investigator follows the crime from its beginning all the way to its end in a courtroom. Testifying is just part of the job, but an essential one.
Raymond said sexual assaults are the most difficult cases to investigate, while the most rewarding part of all cases is “when you get closure. The best part is making an arrest and solving the case.”
Drawing on his prior military experience, Raymond also works with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Task Force on Homeland Security, assisting in investigations into domestic terrorism. He is trained as a hostage negotiator, although he thankfully hasn’t had to use it in a real-life situation.
Although Raymond is settled into life at the VPD, he recalls his time in the Air Force fondly.
His first active-duty station was Grand Forks, N.D., followed by time in Korea, Panama, California, South America, and Georgia. He deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and worked on a joint task force to catch drug smugglers in Panama.
While stationed at Edwards AFB in California, part of Raymond’s job as base law enforcement included helping secure the landing space for the space shuttles.
While there, he also served as the game warden for the massive base in the high desert area of southern California.
Coming from the dry desert to the lush landscape of Georgia was a welcome change. At Robins, he was the supervisor for 125 airmen and served as an escort for VIPs visiting the base, from Vice President Dick Cheney to members of the cast of the movie, “The Dukes of Hazzard” — Jessica Simpson, Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott.
Today, Raymond considers his work at the VPD fulfilling and enjoyable, especially “the folks I work with.” He is grateful to Chief Frank Simons for hiring him and to Childress for recommending him, as Valdosta is now home and the VPD is like an extended family.