Many years ago, Long County law enforcement entities primarily were known for speed traps. They’ve come a long way, though. Today, both the Long County Sheriff’s Office and the Ludowici Police Department have shed that image and have established themselves as professional departments respected in the surrounding area and in the state.
Recently, the LPD took another historic step when Officer Diannia Duncan was promoted to investigator, making her not only the lone female law enforcement officer in Long County, but also the first female LPD investigator.
But Duncan said her move to investigation isn’t about being first; it’s about her taking on more responsibility for solving cases in Ludowici.
"The thing I like the best about being an investigator is that now the responsibility for investigating crime falls on my shoulders, and I have the direct responsibility for making the case," she said.
Duncan entered the law enforcement field in 1980 as a military police canine handler in the Army. She and her family eventually ended up in Ludowici and in 2006, then-Police Chief Frank McClelland Sr. hired Duncan as a part-time officer. A year later, current Chief LPD Chief Richard Robertson moved her into a full-time position.
"Diannia has great communication skills. She can make people feel comfortable and they will talk to her. This is one of the key reasons she is doing as well as she has since she became the department’s investigator," Robertson said.
Since Duncan became a full-time investigator last month, she and the rest of the LPD have had their hands full with several burglary and home invasion cases. And the new detective expects she’ll see more crimes of that nature.
"The economy is tough right now, and a lot of people have been victims to crime where robbery is the motive. Heck, my own home was broken into back in September, so that shows you that it can happen to anyone," Duncan said.
She said dealing with the aftermath of the crime changed her and helped her as an investigator.
"When we had our house broken into, it kind of opened my eyes even more and now I see how these poor people feel when it happens to them. Having been a victim, it makes me want to work even harder to help these folks who have crimes committed against them," Duncan said.
And solving crimes is exactly what she has been doing. Since her promotion, Duncan said she has closed out all but two cases that have come across her desk. While she is the main person working on these cases, she won’t take all of the credit.
"We do a good job up here — all of us," she said. "The chief, the other officers, the dispatchers — all of us. In addition to our department, we work well with the sheriff’s department, the troopers and other agencies … You have to put your pride away in police work and do what’s necessary to get the job done, and we do that."
Duncan’s LPD duties and responsibilities have changed, but that hasn’t stopped her from serving as the department’s outreach person.
According to Robertson, Duncan helps many segments of the Ludowici community. The chief said Duncan’s civic activities include volunteering at the schools for reading programs, representing the department at the annual "trunk-or-treat" event, volunteering at the Long County Head Start center, delivering food to elderly residents and promoting drug awareness at youth activities. Earlier this month, she volunteered to discuss the dangers of drugs at a basketball camp put together by the Scott’s All-Stars program coordinators.
Duncan said she enjoys helping people and participating in programs, and she wants to do even more in the future.
"I hope that in the future, I can get with the board of education and see if I can work with the schools in possibly giving a class to some of the students on topics like Internet safety, cell phone usage, sexting and bullying on cell phones and on computers," Duncan said.
"Diannia is very enthusiastic about being an investigator," Robertson said. "She worked hard to get into the position and I know she’ll continue to work hard and do a good job."