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Maurice “Moe” Rice, Neighborhood Assistance Officer
Aletha B. Brunson
Maurice “Moe” Rice joined the Richmond Police Department’s volunteer Neighborhood Assistance Officer (NAO) Program in October of 1996. After taking a short leave of absence in late 2017 to be with his wife Betty, during her struggle with cancer, he has, following her passing in December, returned to continue his active participation in the NAOs. During his 20 plus years in the Program, he always had the support of his family as they understood his NAO training was prioritized for safety of self and your partner.
A proficient NAO needs to know the law, stay within the constraints of their authority and training, and know when to call for sworn officer assistance. The self-described “financial person” who toiled through 12 years of night school to receive a Bachelor of Science degree, could and would find himself in challenging and sometimes confrontational situations that his Accounting degree could not bail him out of. He easily recalled, as an example, one incident among the many that he has encountered, from about eight to ten years ago; an accident near Walmsley and Broad Rock. The situation resulted in a Latino-speaking family being rear-ended by two vehicles that left the scene. Fortunately, he and his Spanish-speaking partner, Jose Arevalo, were nearby and arrived on the scene before the responding RPD officer or Richmond Ambulance Authority and helped to control traffic and translate for the mother and assist with removing the child from her car seat; an act that is not out of character for the compassionate-by-nature, Moe.
Moe shares that he was born and raised right in Glen Allen and has the southern drawl to prove it. He was three years old when his dad died, leaving his mom to raise him and two older brothers. “Mom taught us to make the most of whatever we have,” said Moe. “We didn’t have a lot, but we appreciated what we had.” As for church, it “was not an option,” said Moe. It was there that he learned to appreciate people who had compassion for others. He noted that “lots of folks helped us.” And as an adult, Moe would go on to aid and assist the community by serving as a Metro Aviation Volunteer in a multi-jurisdictional operation, accruing over 3,000 hours of flying time as an observer in airplanes. This service led him to the Richmond Police Department where he graduated from the Second Citizens Academy in 1996. It was there that he learned of the NAO program.
Even today, the NAO program draws heavily upon recruitment via the Citizens Academy but also various community programs and personal contacts. While he admits that more NAOs are needed, finding qualified applicants that are compassionate, willing to make the commitment and be dedicated to the requirements of the NAO Program is a real challenge. NAO applicants must pass a background check which is on par with background investigations conducted on applicants for sworn positions. “NAOs,” according to Moe, “operate very much like rescue squad volunteers;” they need to participate on a regular basis to make sure they stay up to date on their trained skills. An NAO maintains regular patrol assignments that do not require a sworn officer. In these assignments, they assist at special events, accident sites, tagging and towing abandoned vehicles and are authorized to issue parking tickets. NAOs need to be current with handling a police radio, including familiarity with communication and clearing codes, traffic and crowd control, accident protocol and have an especially strong bond with the communications operators. In 2017, thanks to the efforts of Chief Durham, the NAO program received two new patrol vehicles equipped with amber lights and police logos. A high-profile and adrenaline-fueled gig for a mild-mannered accountant.
Moe continues to work full-time at Richmond Residential Services, Inc. a non-profit agency that operates group homes for intellectually disabled adults in the Metropolitan Richmond area. (“My nature is not to retire,” he declares.) He continues to drive a church bus for Ridge Baptist Church, transporting special needs worshipers to Sunday school, as he has for close to 40 years. Moe remains energetic, enjoying his family, especially his two grandchildren, all sports and being with close friends. He is focused on people and willing to do whatever it takes to help. “If I can sense help is needed, I don’t mind doing it,” he affirms.
He would like the Richmond community at large to “recognize the difficult job a police officer has and be more supportive of the men and women that put their lives on the line every day as they serve the citizens of the City of Richmond as members of the Richmond Police Department.”
To our officers, Moe wants you to know that as a NAO, he has had the opportunity to see you in action and knows “you are doing an outstanding job. You have earned and deserve much more recognition and respect than you get. Keep up your good work; it is appreciated by those that understand how difficult your job really is.”