“This has been a very difficult decision for me,” Sheriff Dale Furr said. “I based my decision on the time I have spent in law enforcement and I decided that 40 years was enough.”
According to Furr, he is announcing his retirement early for three major reasons:
n To stop speculation in the county as to whether or not he will seek re-election, especially within the Sheriff’s Office.
n To provide the Board of Commissioners an opportunity to adjust the salary for the new Sheriff.
n To give those who desire to run, ample time to organize their campaigns.
Dale Furr has been Sheriff of Richmond County for 15 years after moving back to the area in November 1970. He spent nine years with the Charlotte Police Department before he returned to Richmond County to help care for his aging parents.
Since that time, he has served with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in various positions, including time as Chief Deputy beginning in 1985 and Sheriff beginning in 1994.
“Law enforcement has been good to me,” Furr said. “But it can leave you with some terrible scars. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.”
Furr also stated one other reason contributing to his retirement announcement are his persistent health issues. Having gone through two back surgeries and total joint replacement in both shoulders, he is plagued with chronic pain.
He said if he couldn’t perform the duties he assigned to his deputies, that he would retire. And since his age and 40 years of law enforcement are finally catching up with him, it was time.
During his time as sheriff, he says he’s proud of building the professionalism and efficiency of the department through the ability to hire good, qualified people whom he has been able to delegate authority to.
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office currently employs approximately 90 people and according to Furr, “have had very little employee turnover, except in retirement.”
Many of his employees Furr commends for having the passion for the career and not for the money.
“It’s hard to get someone to do a tough job. Turnover is critical to remain effective,” Furr said.
Among other changes that have taken place in the Sheriff’s Office is the formation of the Special Response Team and the Honor Guard. According to Furr, he has also assisted in keeping the Governor’s Highway Safety Team consistently performing as a leader in the state for the number of DWI arrests.
Furr’s retirement won’t take effect until December of 2010 and currently no one has publicly announced their candidacy for the Richmond County Sheriff, although there is over a year left.
“As Sheriff, I have made decisions to support candidates in their elections,” Furr said. “I supported the candidates that I felt were the most qualified and the most dedicated to represent the 20th Judicial District. I stand by my decisions to support those candidates. I do not apologize for my choices, and I would support these same candidates again.
“Some of those decisions were not popular, but we live in a democracy and we all have the right to support the candidates that we think are most qualified for office. Those who did not agree with my choices have the right to do so.”
Since no one has stepped up to run for the office of Sheriff, his endorsement has yet to be determined.
Additionally, Sheriff Furr says that fear of not being re-elected has played no role in his decision.
“I understand that there are rumors that I have chosen not to seek re-election because I fear the possibility of losing.” Furr said. “I assure you that nothing can be further from the truth. If I wanted to run for office again, and if I felt that physically I could continue to give the job 100 percent, fear would not be a factor in my decision.”
Along with Furr, Chief Deputy Phil Sweatt will also stepping down from his position the same day Furr leaves the Sheriff’s Office in December 2010.
“We always said we’d walk out together,” Furr said. “He’s not a typical chief deputy.”
According to Furr, Sweatt has been responsible for bringing more than $1 million of seized drug money into the county which has assisted in alleviating the burden on tax payers for purchasing cars and equipment for the Sheriff’s Office.
After his retirement, Furr plans moving his priorities from the Sheriff’s Office to grandchildren and family.
“There were a lot of Christmas holidays where I’d come in to work my shift. It’s a 24/7, 365 days a year job,” Furr said. “But I don’t regret it, not one minute of it.”
His son, a sergeant with the Charlotte Police Department, has also taken to law enforcement and followed in his footsteps.
“I hate to see my career come to an end, but it has to happen sometime,” Furr said.
Furr assures that it will be, “business as usual” for the remaining 16 months in office, as if he were running for re-election.
“I’m still going to be sheriff every day until I walk out the door,” Furr said. “I assure you, nothing will change.”