Dawn Pardue lives in a man’s world. As the first ranking female officer at the Yadkinville Police Department, Pardue knows what it’s like to be the lone female in a large group of men. But she doesn’t mind.
Pardue was born and raised in Yadkin County. Her father passed away when she was 8 years old leaving her mother to raise Dawn and her sister alone. Pardue attended high school in the county, and in seventh grade she met the love of her life, Kenny. The two married right out of high school.
In 1984 Pardue got a tip from Tim Parks that the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office was looking for someone to work in telecommunications.
“Chief Parks was dating one of my friends, and we had known each other all through high school. He told me about the position in telecommunications at the sheriff’s office,” Pardue said. “He said, ‘Dawn, you like to talk, so you would probably do a good job at that.’ When I started I really did love it.”
Pardue continued to work her way up at the sheriff’s office, eventually taking positions as a bailiff and as a transport officer. After a while she decided to take a break from the world of law enforcement and left to work as a customer service representative for a photography magazine.
Her passion for law enforcement couldn’t be stifled long, however. When Jack Henderson offered her a position as a resource officer and DARE officer at Forbush and Starmount High Schools she jumped at the opportunity.
“When Jack Henderson offered me that job I remember thinking that was the coolest thing to be able to go back to high school and get paid for it,” Pardue said. “I guess maybe I was drawn to work with juveniles because I’m more on their wavelength and I can relate.
“I think when you work with kids it keeps you young and keeps you on your toes. Kids can spot a fake a mile away, and they’re just brutally honest. They just tell you exactly what they think, and I think that’s why I enjoy working with kids so much.”
Pardue left her job at the high schools when former Sheriff Mike Cain offered her a position as a juvenile detective. Pardue was placed in charge of investigating all crimes involving minors. Pardue said she felt this was one of her most important positions because it was her responsibility to make sure the children she worked with received justice.
“I feel like my calling is with kids,” Pardue said. “I think that’s what I was supposed to do. I was meant to interact with these kids. I remember when I took the job as a juvenile detective I really felt such a peace because I felt like I was the only way that some of those kids would get justice.”
From there Pardue took a position as a detective with the Yadkinville Police Department investigating all crimes and was promoted to lieutenant last year. Pardue is the first woman to hold the position of lieutenant in the history of the Yadkinville Police Department.
“That is a man’s world, and I think as a female you have to go in with the mindset that you’re going to do the best you can do, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a female or a male,” Pardue said. “Lots of times, I’m not going to lie, that maybe a man would be better in some things. But sometimes there are situations where women are better. [Men] can’t always diffuse a situation like a female can.”
Although Pardue doesn’t work exclusively with children anymore she says that the other officers in the department usually send anything related to children her way.
“Anytime something comes in involving kids, the majority of the time they pass it on to me, especially if it involves sexual abuse, because the men do not like working on that,” Pardue said.
In her spare time Pardue serves as choir director at the church where her husband is a preacher. She also serves as the assistant pianist and Sunday school teacher.
Pardue’s oldest son is a teacher and coach, and her youngest son is a student at Appalachian State University. He is also a football coach on the side. Pardue said that she makes every effort to attend their ballgames and support them.
Pardue has been actively involved with mission trips through her church, and she said that those experiences have influenced her in the past two years. She travelled to Haiti to help build an orphanage, and she says that her experiences there have had a profound effect on the way she looks at life now.
“I saw firsthand how fortunate I am to live where I live and be raised the way I was raised and to have the things that I have,” Pardue said. “I saw babies and children living in filth and squalor. I thought about how fortunate I was first and foremost, but I also thought about how God blesses us and we need to bless other people. I really do want to be more mission minded and I really want to help more people.”
Pardue said that her dream would be to retire at the beach one day because it’s the only place she loves as much as Yadkin County.
“I think that the values that are still in families here in Yadkin County are lifelong values, and … I am proud to work for such a good agency. And I’m proud to be born and raised in such a good area,” Pardue said. “I feel like we are blessed in many ways in this area and we’re able to enjoy life and family more so than a lot of other places in the state and the country. I’ve always made a joke that the best part about Forsyth County is the bridge coming back into Yadkin.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.