Acting sheriff says citizens are in good hands

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

It’s business as usual at the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.

But there’s a new sheriff in town.

After Ronald Hewett was suspended as sheriff last Thursday, county coroner Greg White assumed all duties as sheriff.

N.C. General Statute 162-5.5 states “If any vacancy occurs in the office of the sheriff, the coroner of the county shall execute all process directed to the sheriff until the board shall elect a sheriff to supply the vacancy for the residue of the term, who shall possess the same qualifications, enter into the same bond, and be subject to removal, as the sheriff regularly elected.”

Though he has no official law enforcement experience, the self-proclaimed “two-term sheriff” had to fill the shoes of sheriff once before.

In 1994, after the departure of Sheriff John Carr Davis, and before the election of Sheriff Ronald Hewett, White served as sheriff for about one week.

White kicked off his duties as sheriff last week by having a meeting at 8 a.m. Friday with the sheriff’s office staff.

“Well, it was just a meeting of encouragement,” White said of his first day as sheriff.

“To ensure them they are the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office—they knew what their job was before I came in,” he said.

While White says it’s still early in the transition, “it was a great mood,” in the meeting.

“Their obligations are to the citizens of Brunswick County. That’s who they serve,” he said.

At a specially called county commissioners meeting Monday night, White asked commissioners if he could appoint a chief deputy—a position that has been vacant since former chief deputy Tony Cummings left the sheriff’s office in December 2007.

“I think it needs to be filled. That’s my observation,” White said.

County attorney Huey Marshall said White has assumed all duties of sheriff, and he can appoint a chief deputy.

“If he wants to hire, he can hire. If he wants to fire, he can fire,” Marshall said.

“I feel very confident in the department we have. There’s great people there. There’s already great practices in place, and I just feel very confident in the job they’re doing,” he said.

White said he would split his time between the sheriff’s office and his business, Peacock, Newnam and White Funeral Home in Southport.

White, a Democrat, has been county coroner since December 1985.