Lee sheriff joins state juvenile justice panel

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Sheriff Tracy Carter stood at the front of a Lee County courtroom Friday, his hand on the Bible, as a number of his fellow officers looked on. Carter was taking the oath of office, administered by Rep. Mike Stone, following his appointment to the Juvenile Justice Planning Committee of the Governor’s Crime Commission by Gov. Pat McCrory.

“I’m looking forward to giving back,” said Carter, who has served in law enforcement for 27 years. “I worked with Lee County Schools and dealt with a lot of juvenile issues there. Anyone in law enforcement will deal with juvenile issues.”

Carter served as the chief of the Lee County Schools’ Special Police from 1993 to 2006, when he was elected sheriff of Lee County.

As a member of the Juvenile Justice Planning Committee, Carter will travel to Raleigh four times a year to meet with the other 29 committee members to address juvenile justice issues in the state and aid in the distribution of Title II grant funds, which go toward training teachers and principals throughout North Carolina.

“I’m tremendously happy,” Stone said. “This is great for our sheriff. It’s great for our county.”

Stone said the county has experienced issues in the past with juvenile crime and looks forward to having a representative on the committee. Teen violence in Sanford has sparked debate among various groups and elected officials, and now the county will have a seat at the table, according to Stone.

“Being an SRO officer at the high school, working with high school kids in the past, gives him a little more experience working with kids in the county,” he said.

The officers in attendance also were confident in Carter’s ability to represent Sanford on the committee.

“He’s top notch,” said Jay Fraley, a 5-year veteran of the sheriff’s department. “He bypasses the political stuff and just lets you do your job. That’s why I like working for him.”

Mark Cole, a member of the office’s drug unit, has known Carter since childhood.

“My brother and I grew up with him and his brother, Ray,” Cole said. “He’s doing a great job.”

The Juvenile Justice Planning Committee is comprised of both professionals and private citizens and includes three judges, two police chiefs, two youth representatives, a member of the N.C. House of Representatives and many more. Carter said that there is a requirement that at least one sheriff serve on the committee.

“Right now, I’m the only one,” he added. “It’s an honor.”

“We needed someone from this area to be on the juvenile committee,” said T.C. Yarborough, who has served the sheriff’s office for 10 years and also attended the ceremony. “We need representation.”

According to its mission statement, the Juvenile Justice Planning Committee was created “to provide resources for youth who are at-risk of becoming delinquent due to individual, school, family, peer or community factors.”

The committee also is responsible for developing a three-year plan to address juvenile justice issues in North Carolina and ensuring that the state maintains compliance with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. It also provides resources from intake to aftercare for youth who are involved in the juvenile court system.

“Sheriff Carter is a leader in Lee County, and his past experience as chief of Lee County Schools’ Special Police and current position as sheriff made him an ideal choice,” said Gov. McCrory of Carter’s appointment. “I would like to congratulate Sheriff Carter, but more importantly thank him for his service to Lee County and North Carolina.”