Sheriff Carter Plans to Retire May 1
Moore County Sheriff Lane Carter will retire effective May 1.
Carter submitted his letter of resignation to Nick Picerno, chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners, earlier this week.
"After much thought and prayer, I have decided to retire effective May 1, 2013," Carter said in the letter. "Moore County has been very good to me over the past 34 years, and it has been my pleasure to serve the citizens of Moore County. While I look forward to enjoying my retirement, I will miss working with the county.
"I sincerely appreciate the support that you and the other commissioners have provided to the Sheriff's Office during my tenure as sheriff. If I can be of any assistance during this transition, please let me know."
At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, the Moore County Republican Party's Executive Committee recommended that the county commissioners appoint Chief Deputy Neil Godfrey to succeed Carter in office.
Political party recommendations are usually binding on county commissioners. Under state law, the commissioners are required to consult the county executive committee of the political party of the sheriff and appoint the person it recommends if it is made within 30 days of when the vacancy occurs
Carter will remain in office until May 1, so the Republican Party did not actually make its recommendation "within 30 days" of the vacancy.
The county commissioners - all Republicans themselves - are expected to follow the executive committee's recommendation. They will likely appoint Godfrey to fill the remainder of Carter's unexpired term at their next regular meeting. Carter's term runs through 2014.
Carter was first elected sheriff in 2002. He was serving as chief deputy under then-Sheriff Frank Johnson, who did not seek re-election. Carter was re-elected in 2006 and 2010.
He started with the Sheriff's Office in October 1978 under Sheriff C.T. Wimberley.
"There have been a lot of changes in this profession in 34 years," Carter said in an interview Thursday. "There isn't any doubt they have been improvements. There are systems available to us today that weren't around in the 1970s and even in the '90s."
Carter said he doesn't have any particular plans for retirement.
"Fish a little bit, tend my grandbabies, do just exactly what I want to do every day," Carter said, chuckling. "I have got a sawmill, and I will do a lot of that, I'm sure.
"I put in enough time five or six years ago. I'm just retiring now - it is just time to go. Sheriffs don't make the office; people in the office make the sheriff's office. I have a lot of great people who do a great job, and I am sure that will continue."
Godfrey, a Republican Party precinct chairman, is well-known to all the committee members and was their choice without objection, county party Chairman Robert Levy said. Levy also said he doesn't believe county commissioners are bound to accept their recommendations but believes they will.
"I would be very, very surprised if the commissioners wouldn't follow that recommendation," Levy said. "Neil Godfrey has been the chief administrator of the department for a while. He is a hands-on person. While Sheriff Carter was doing various things he does as sheriff, Neil was taking care of many everyday matters with the Sheriff's Office and also interfacing with the commission.
"Politically, we just wanted to make sure there is a good, competent sheriff and would remain a Republican. We trust Neil to do everything necessary and do it properly. There is only so far that politics should go into a sheriff's office. It should never be a major portion."
Godfrey, reached in his office Wednesday afternoon for a brief interview, was humbled by the party's choosing him to succeed Carter.
"It is a great honor - a great honor for the executive committee to think so highly of me," Godfrey said. "I will make every effort to perform at that level. I don't see (that) anything will be any different.
"We are going to keep this one of the best sheriff's offices in North Carolina. This is a very professional department, and that's the way it will continue to operate."
Godfrey was formerly with the State Bureau of Investigation. After his retirement from that agency, Carter tapped him as his chief deputy. That had been his own last post under Sheriff Johnson before winning election to office.
"This story is really about Lane," Godfrey said, praising the sheriff's accomplishments. "He served in just about every capacity here at the sheriff's office. He was road deputy, investigator, worked drug investigations, was supervisor of investigations. He was captain of investigations right before he became chief deputy.
"He had quite a bit of experience and training. Lane was a very good leader and always provided support and resources to his people to enable them to do the best job that they could do."
The new Rick Rhyne Public Safety Center will be a major legacy of Carter's tenure as sheriff, Godfrey said. So many aspects affecting safety for the people of Moore County will be improved when it opens.
"Look at the 911 center - operating in a basement!" he said. "The same thing with our investigators - now they will have office space to properly access and store evidence, to interview victims and witnesses and suspects. The building is designed to be very functional, has some of the latest technology. We hope to open around the first of April."
Carter will have barely a month in his new office before he retires from law enforcement and his resignation as sheriff takes effect.
"He accomplished a lot while sheriff," Godfrey said, mentioning not only the new center but also Carter's success in helping Moore County get its own prosecutorial district . He expects to wait until he is sheriff before naming a new chief deputy.
"I think so," he said. "It would be appropriate to do."
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell@ gmail.com.
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