Writing is my second favorite solo pastime; reading is my first. My name is Paula May, and I recently retired after thirty years in law enforcement; over twenty in major crime investigation and the last ten as Chief of Police directing major criminal incident response and investigation.
For a country farm girl who grew up in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, reading was my entertainment, my educator, my gateway to the world beyond my precipitous view. When the Bookmobile, a local library service provided to rural community residents, made its monthly stop at my Granny Lucy’s house, I was there waiting, eager to step on board. I recall at the impressionable age of eleven selecting a hardcover novel with a slick white dust cover called The Investigation. The name of the author has, unfortunately, escaped my memory, but I do recall that I could not put the book down. I believe it was that book that first planted the seed of interest in my mind in becoming both a violent crimes investigator and a writer. I firmly believe that God creates each individual with a special calling in mind, that He equips each of us with unique talents and abilities for that purpose, and that it is incumbent upon each of us to discover and follow our own inspired path in life in order to experience personal meaning, peace and fulfillment.
As the oldest of four children, I was fortunate to be able to attend Appalachian State University, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and later a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. I also was privileged to attend and complete a wealth of excellent training opportunities including the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Of most significant to me, however, are the amazing leaders and mentors under whom I have been honored to serve.
Looking back on my career, I see a stream of opportunities that occurred seemingly to impact the lives of others, many in crisis. I was blessed to be the first sworn female law enforcement officer, Detective and Chief Deputy Sheriff of Watauga County, NC and the first female Chief of Police and the longest running Chief of Police in the City of King, NC. I am honored to have received numerous professional awards, recognitions, and many kindnesses along the way. Above all else, I am grateful for the grace of God that enabled me to reach full retirement; I am painfully aware that there are many in my profession who do not survive to see retirement. They are the true heroes, and my heart goes out to the loved ones they left behind.
Throughout my years of service, I learned much about the world, about crime, human behavior and the desperately wicked lusts of the heart of mankind. Early in my career, I began to experience the compulsion to write about these things I investigated. I met thousands of unsung heroes, survivors who overcame overwhelming circumstances. I also encountered unimaginable atrocities and scores of truly evil men and women, the like of which most people never witness in a lifetime. I have many stories yet to be told, and I look forward to sharing them with you, the reader.
My mission as a writer is to share something of myself and my experiences not only to preserve the things I have learned, but also to enlighten the endangered, to empower the weak and helpless, to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, to encourage the downtrodden, to educate, and to convey a positive message of hope and forgiveness at every turn.
I am fully persuaded that writing is a crucial element in my calling to the criminal justice field, of which I am still an active participant. I remain a sworn and certified member of two police departments in North Carolina. I recently served as Interim Director of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police, after serving for seven years on the Board of Directors. I continue to train law enforcement officers across North Carolina, and in addition, I teach a variety of courses online.
In my spare time, I enjoy working as a Christian tour director, a position that allows me to lead groups of tourists of all ages from school groups to retirees, one motor coach at a time, as we travel across the country. This gig continues to open up new places, new sights and new experiences to write about as well.
In addition to the true crime genre, I also enjoy writing in a variety of mediums such as articles, devotionals, and social media posts. But, I also enjoy writing Christian music. The majority of my original songs are reflective of a deeper than common message, undoubtedly a creative expression of my personal and professional experiences, and the hard stuff of life. I enjoy playing piano, and one of my greatest joys is playing and singing in churches, nursing homes, and special events with Joyful Noise, a gospel group made up of close friends and family members. Joyful Noise is not a for-profit endeavor, but rather a mission-minded ministry. [email protected]
My beloved daughter Caitlin and son-in-law Jon often shake their heads at my adventuresome and frequently chaotic life. But what else in the way of success could one ask for, but to rest in the knowledge that she has done the best she could with the divine call upon her life, that she has survived the tragedies and terrors of this life thus far, and that after this brief life is ended, an eternal home in Heaven with the Lord and her loved ones awaits. Until then, the opportunity to reach others with the written word is a gift indeed and a desire of my heart that must be pursued. Perhaps I count success differently than the way the rest of the world counts it, but if any words of mine positively impacts the life of at least one soul, then I count it great success. Perhaps that life will be yours.