Justin Rolland of Lake City was named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year last month by the Jonesboro Exchange Club. Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann presented Rolland with a special commemorative plaque denoting the honor, during the club's annual law enforcement banquet in Jonesboro.
(Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)
Rolland was praised for his leadership role in service as a law enforcement officer. He serves as Sheriff's Department Criminal Investigator assigned to the Eastern District of Craighead County.
Rolland is the son of Larry and Gaye Rolland of Monette. He was born while his father was in service to his country in Vietnam. He was raised in Monette and graduated from Buffalo Island Central High School in 1989.
"I have always been fascinated by police work," Rolland said. "While a student at BIC we were asked to dress up for Career Day, and I picked to be a policeman. My friend Wes Smithee also showed up in uniform that day, and he has gone on to become a state trooper. I look back at the picture that was taken of us and how our lives turned out. Something was at work in our minds right then.
"While a senior I went to EMT school and became friends with emergency personnel, as well as troopers, deputies and dispatchers. I would ride around with policemen on duty and found their work to be very fascinating. I went on to work as an EMT for two years in Mississippi County."
Rolland had started school to study law enforcement when he was hired by the Craighead County Sheriffs Department in 1993. He attended the Camden Police Academy in 1994. He went on to complete specialized criminal investigation courses and learn patrolman policy and procedures.
"We were doing our work on typewriters in 1993," Rolland said. "And now everything is on computer. Technology has been fantastic and very helpful. My first radio was a low-ban radio. One moment you could barely pick up a signal from Jonesboro, and later you could get clear through and skip to someone in Michigan. Our equipment is much better today."
"The best training I ever got was working with the guys who had gone before me," he said. "I have worked under four sheriffs, Larry Emison, Jerry Suiter, Dale Haas and Jack McCann. Deputy Sheriff Roy Baker trained me for my job. The training just seemed to come natural to me. I was eager to learn and still am. There has not been a day on the job that I don't learn something. Police work is never the same. We learn as we go.
"I started out as a patrolmen and did shift work. I seemed to be on call every night. I went from patrolman to being a criminal investigator. Every single case, from theft to murder, needs special attention. You can't help but have a personal relationship with particular cases, such as those involving children. "
Rolland has only been involved in two shootings in the last 11 years, but he puts his life on the line every time he goes on duty. He was involved in a standoff between law enforcement officers and two suspects this past September. The suspects fired at the officers, set fire to a mobile home and fled to a nearby soybean field. One suspect was killed and one wounded during the ordeal. Rolland began deploying officers and was praised for his professional judgment in the face of death.
"When officers are being shot at, all jurisdiction lines are dropped, and we work as a team," Rolland said. "We were no longer Jonesboro policemen, Sheriff's deputies, or state officers, and instantly become a team. I saw a SWAT Team badge on Jonesboro Policeman Michael McCannless' uniform and I felt I could count on his tactical training to get the job done. You can't go through something like that and not become close friends--and we have."
"Police work can be very stressful," Rolland said. "You have to decide what is important in your life. I had to learn how to switch it off when I got home. My family means everything to me and I want to spend as much time with them as I can--the rest of my life."
Rolland married Toni Holloway of Caraway in 1991. They have two daughters, Kayla, 15, and Olivia, 4. They make their home in Lake City and are active members of the Refuge Baptist Church.