Panzarella has interim title dropped, will be next Emerald Isle police chief

Crystal Coast

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Emerald Isle’s interim chief of police has a new title.

The Town of Emerald Isle announced Friday that Michael Panzarella will become the next chief of police. He has been the interim police chief since July. He has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience in Carteret County.

“Chief Panzarella is a steadfast law enforcement professional with a genuine and heartfelt desire to serve the community of Emerald Isle,” said Town Manager Matt Zapp. “He executed well in the capacity of Assistant Chief and has transitioned smoothly to the role as Interim Chief. The Town Board and staff are excited for Mike as he takes on the full-time appointment as the next Emerald Isle Chief of Police.”

Panzarella was appointed by Zapp following a three-month review of his performance as interim chief. Panzarella has been the assistant chief of police since May 2020 and stepped into the interim role following the retirement of former Chief Tony Reese in July 2021.

The Emerald Isle Police Department has 20 full-time sworn officers and two civilian support staff, along with 20 part-time officers and customer service representatives.

“I believe building strong relationships with the residents and visitors is a key component in the Police Department’s endeavor to protect and serve in the highest manner,” said Panzarella. “I also believe it is paramount to lead with integrity, high moral character and transparency throughout the department.”

Chief Panzarella has spent three decades serving in a variety of roles in the Pine Knoll Shores and Newport police departments, as well as the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office, before joining the Emerald Isle Police Department. His previous experience includes being a patrol officer, a patrol supervisor, a school resource officer, school resource officer supervisor, detective, detective supervisor and school intelligence liaison. In addition, he has served as a DARE officer, a hostage negotiator, and an internal affairs officer for the Sherriff’s Office.

He embraces the motto, “leadership is not a position or title, it is action and example.”

He received his associate degree in Criminal Justice from Carteret Community College and holds an Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate for North Carolina Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards Commission, a Criminal Investigation Certification, and School Resource Officer Certification from the North Carolina Justice Academy. He is a member and former president of the North Carolina Homicide Investigators Association and a current member of the International Homicide Investigators Association.

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