Site Registration | Find a Copy | Event Calendar | Site Map
The Voice of the Black Community

Local & State

NC's black sheriffs tout justice, reform, and evasion of federal edict
Law enforcers address NC Black Alliance
Published Thursday, May 9, 2019 10:08 am
by Lori D.R. Wiggins | The Triangle Tribune

Five of North Carolina’s eight new black sheriffs spoke at the N.C. Black Summit in Raleigh.

RALEIGH – Five of North Carolina’s newly elected African American sheriffs told a standing-room-only crowd they recognize their historic election changes the face of law enforcement, but it doesn’t change their duty to protect and serve. Nor does it change the community’s obligation to help them fix what’s broken.

And it doesn’t mean coming to town hall settings like the N.C. Black Alliance’s 14th annual N.C. Black Summit last month only to bash cops, shout for justice and make uninformed demands for system overhauls, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden said.

“You don’t allow us to educate you,” he said. “You’re always asking for justice, but do you know how to get justice? And, when you get it, do you know what to do with it?

“Allow us to educate you, then you can take that fight wherever you want.”

Moderated by Judge Reuben Young, the summit’s opening afternoon session, “Law Enforcement and Our Community,” introduced the sheriffs – many elected in the state’s most populated, majority white counties – and their efforts to reform internal and external relations, while also responding to community issues.
The flip side of the challenge, Young said, is the community needs to allow law enforcement to do its job, and also own its part in the equation of mistrust and misconceptions.

“We all want the same things,” said Young, the interim chief deputy secretary of adult correction and juvenile justice. “We can’t put everything on the sheriff’s office, on deputies or even on legislators. We have to take ownership; take a look at ourselves and what we should be doing. We’re all a part of effective law enforcement.”

That includes finding ways to ensure the success once people are released from jail and return to the community, he added. “Once a person has paid their debt, that debt isn’t due anymore,” Young said.

No doubt, the sheriffs agreed, tackling injustices that fall on the shoulders of their deputies can be daunting tasks that zero in on the human heart and the compassion and respect it holds for others. “We want our sheriff’s office to be better than we found it,” Edgecombe County Sheriff Cleveland Atkinson said.

Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker said his mandate is clear. “We have a job to do, and we’re going to do that job and treat people with respect.

“This is about serving the entire county. We’re going to deal with everybody according to the law, no matter where you come from, no matter how you got here because every community is made up of human beings.”

Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance, the state’s first black female sheriff, and the country’s fifth, said she campaigned as “a sheriff for everyone,” and took an oath to enforce state laws, adding “with equality and equity for everyone,” which impacts black officers, too, “because of the way the culture had been.

“Did I let some people go? Yes, I did,” she said, “because I didn’t think they were going to get the equity part. The road to redemption is a two-way street,” adding African American sheriffs have a unique role in addressing issues and rebuilding relationships in black communities. “Just because it ain’t going to be like it used to be, doesn’t mean it ain’t right.”

Alongside the immediate push to tidy up internal problems, the sheriffs responded to questions from the audience of mostly African-American professionals of state and local public service, nonprofit, politics and community advocacy, by outlining individual and collective initiatives.

Baker, for example, drew applause for his friendly competition with Mecklenburg’s McFadden to be the first to get county funding to open a separate mental/behavioral health wing at the detention center.

Among other initiatives shared:

• Create detention facilities that refer to folks it houses as “people who have made mistakes” and “residents,” not as “inmates.”

• Outlaw solitary confinement because it does more harm than good to correct behavior.

• Advocate for second chances for those incarcerated in everything from education and jobs to family connections and community acceptance as priorities for reentry to the outside world.

• Rebuke U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by no longer participating in a federal program that asks local agencies to arrest and hold immigrants for deportation.

• Use better judgment in making arrests, considering all offenses don’t deserve jail time and could best be handled with citations requiring court appearances.

• Connect with youth and adults alike in small settings for real-time answers about things such as school safety, use of force, public misconceptions, and so on.

• Provide mentorship that understands when it’s said, “it all starts in the home,” that some children really don’t have a home, or people to love, nurture and teach them.

“We have to be the ones to kill the myth ‘once a jailbird, always a jailbird’, because that’s a lie,” Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers said. “I’d like to create a new myth: You may come because you have to, but you don’t have to come back.”


Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers said. ?I?d like to create a new myth: You may come because you have to, but you don?t have to come back.? First accurate statement. That's a MYTH. Maybe the sheriff needs to research the word myth. Recidivism is at an all-time high. The cause is drugs. Until you treat the addicts, the revolving door continues and you super heroes will not stop it.
Posted on May 20, 2019
Omg.... Cooperate with ICE... Stop towing your party line. There's no room for politics in law enforcement. "Those that made mistakes" are also murderers, rapists and sexual predators. I think the voters are really those that made mistakes.
Posted on May 20, 2019
I'm tired of illegal immigrants invading our country, 504,000 this year (2019-April 30, 2019). They don't assimilate or try to learn English. They come in carrying flags of Mexico or from their place of origin which tells me they aren't wanting to be dedicated to our country and many come in for asylum. How can they seek asylum and carry the flag of there country proudly on their shoulder? American citizens are being harmed by loosing jobs to these people. Also, American wages are being affected negatively mostly in the African American society. These people are breaking the law of the United States so how can a Sheriff ignore the laws of our country? I think the Federal Justice Department should get involved to resolve this miscarriage of justice. I think African Americans in the community go along with this just because the Sheriffs that refuse to follow the Federal Law are all African Americans yet they all say they are color blind. I say walk the walk, you are examples to our youth, all the laws apply and not just your favorite.
Posted on May 18, 2019
I do not understand how these five sheriffs that took the oath to uphold the laws of NC can then turnaround and say - rebuke U.S. Immmigration activities. They do not make the laws. They are there to uphold the law. If they cannot uphold their oaths they should step down.
Posted on May 16, 2019
Where does NC sheriff's asocial stand on Corp with ICE..
Posted on May 16, 2019
How can I volunteer working in my local detention center? I have 15 yrs. experience working in jails and dention centers. I'm a retired nurse after 38 yrs. I live in Warren County.
Posted on May 16, 2019
Sheriff Danny Rogers was implanted. The left plays identity politics and the media follows in line. The sheriff of Guilford county is a criminal and so is his second in command, Miss Better, who is also a criminal. It won't be long before the Fed takes over.
Posted on May 12, 2019

Leave a Comment

Send this page to a friend

Upcoming Events

read all

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Presents: Black Wall Streets, USA

Join Levine Museum of the New South's Historian,


Return of Gypsy Jazz: Andy Page plays Django Reinhardt

Guitarist Andy Page and his quartet of strings


Return of Gypsy Jazz: Andy Page plays Django Reinhardt

Guitarist Andy Page and his quartet of strings

Latest News

read all

Football postseason gets real for top four prep teams

Myers Park leads pack into second round

Hyundai Kona a bit tamer, but keeps the toughness

It's still stout and efficient, too

Black alumni get together to remember and give back

Nov. 23 ball at CenterStage @ NoDa