University City

N.C. trooper has his act together

Darren Conrad has worn many hats.

Growing up in Gastonia, Conrad acted in theater, and played drums, piano, football and baseball.

“I got my love of music from my mother, and from my father, a former high school All American in football, I inherited the loves of sports,” he said.

As early as he can remember, Conrad always had goals.

“My goals helped me deal with any unwanted peer pressure,” he said. “I stayed busy and focused.”

After graduating from Hunter Huss High School in 1986, Conrad went on to Mars Hill College where he majored in theater and played sports. In 1989, Conrad’s father was killed in a car accident, changing the young man’s perspective on everything.

Conrad joined the Winston Salem Police Department, and stayed there from 1991 until 1998. Conrad enjoyed law enforcement and wanted to take his public service to another level, so he applied to the N.C. Highway Patrol.

He was accepted, and today Master Trooper Conrad works with the N.C. Highway Patrol.

“I have served the public of this state with honor and dignity for 21 years, and I will continue to do so,” Conrad said. “I’m proud to be a member of the finest organization in the state, where loyalty, integrity and professionalism are expected.”

Conrad continued his law enforcement education, taking a master’s course in leadership, police and public administration. He also earned the advanced law enforcement certificate.

He is one the of the media representatives for his district and also conducts safety inspections for federal commercial vehicles and investigates fatalities involving commercial vehicles.

Conrad also has been able to maintain his love of theater and the arts. He acted in a couple of local plays while in Winston Salem, and wrote short stories.

“The television show, ‘In the Heat of the Night,’ is one of my all-time favorites,” Conrad said. “I became close friends with Dan Biggers (now deceased) who played Frank ‘Doc’ Robb on the program for eight years. He was best man at my wedding.”

Conrad had a dream of being a film actor and worked toward that dream during his off hours. He has appeared as an extra in many films, often playing a police officer or prison guard. After becoming eligible by appearing in a nationally televised commercial, Conrad joined the Screen Actor’s Guild. He continued writing, and his short film, “Last Call of Duty,” was recently completed.

Conrad raised the money to produce the film and cast it, with SAG being a signatory for the film.

“There’s tremendous talent in this town,” Conrad said.

The film is a nonprofit, as an honor to his profession. There will be a Charlotte premier in late summer, then the film will be submitted to national festivals.

His next film is already written and will shoot this summer.

“While I enjoy producing and acting, my profession is being a State Trooper, which I love,” Conrad said.

Conrad and his wife, Janice Lea, a 16-year veteran of the N.C. Highway Patrol, live in the Mint Hill area.