An Elon Law tribute to fallen GPD officer

Attorney Margaret Dudley, director of Elon University’s Emergency Legal Services Program inside the Family Justice Center of Guilford County, worked closely with Greensboro Police Sgt. Philip Dale Nix before his December death while confronting two convenience store thieves.

A longtime Greensboro police officer was shot and killed in December when he attempted to stop two men from stealing several cases of beer at a local Sheetz gas station.

Sgt. Philip Dale Nix was off duty the afternoon of Dec. 30, 2023, from supervising a half dozen detectives assigned to the Family Justice Center of Guilford County, a resource for victims of domestic and elder abuse looking to escape violent home environments.

The Family Justice Center also is home to Elon University’s Emergency Legal Services Program, a partner agency that provides legal services for domestic and elder abuse victims requesting emergency protective orders from their abusers.

Attorney Margaret Dudley worked with Nix for six years inside the downtown Greensboro center as director of the Emergency Legal Services Program. Dudley reflects here on a dedicated officer whose values aligned with her own in protecting the most vulnerable residents of the greater Greensboro community.

Here’s what she had to share.

Sgt. Dale Nix was an integral part of the Family Justice Center and supported our work in the Emergency Legal Services Program. We could always depend on him. He headed the Family Victims’ Unit of the Greensboro Police Department, but he never came across as just a cop. He served on the FJC’s executive board, and he played a key role in our partnership meetings, as well as the work of our Elder Justice Committee and the High-Risk Team. He helped in crisis after crisis.

Sgt. Nix was passionate about preventing elder abuse and holding those who abuse our elderly citizens accountable. I frequently had to ask for his assistance as our program assessed the legal needs of clients and developed strategies to assist them. We often must research the role of law enforcement in the myriad of circumstances for which we provide civil legal consultations, and Sgt. Nix was always eager to help in any way that he could. He was professional and thorough in the way that he did his work, and you could count on him to approach his tasks in an objective and diplomatic way. He was always fair.  

The only time that I ever saw Sgt. Nix nervous was just before he had to speak last May in San Diego at the National Family Justice Center Conference. Being on the national stage is no small feat and he was an excellent teacher. Sgt. Nix was a man of strong convictions, yet we also saw his funny side, from dressing up in costume at Halloween for our Camp Hope kids to most recently when he and I ended up being the “defense team” for Santa Claus when numerous “criminal charges” were leveled by the FJC’s Secret Santa Crew.

As part of their Elon Law residencies, students who works with me in the Emergency Legal Services Program interview every supervisor of a partner agency with a presence inside the Family Justice Center. I often listened to Sgt. Nix discuss with our students the values that he wanted to instill in his son – values that he exemplified every day here at work.

He will be truly missed.