LUMBERTON — Randy Graham, an investigator with the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, retired Sunday after 30 years in law enforcement, but he hopes to return to work at 120 Legend Road soon.
Graham left the position so he could focus on a run for sheriff in 2018, and he did not want people to believe he was campaigning for that office while working at the Sheriff’s Office and being paid by the county.
“It was bittersweet,” said Graham, who has worked for almost seven years as the Internal Affairs investigator at the Sheriff’s Office. “I hate to leave but it was necessary for me to accomplish what I want to do and do it in the right way.
“I hope to go back in the capacity of sheriff and continue to make Robeson County a better place to work and live and to solve as many crimes as we possibly can. I have some ideas on how that can happen.”
Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said Scottie Jacobs, who has more than 20 years in law enforcement, is replacing Graham on an interim basis and will be evaluated for the position on a permanent basis. Jacobs has worked for about a year as a detective in the Major Crimes Division, and also worked previously in Internal Affairs at the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.
Sealey told The Robesonian he plans to make an announcement in “about a month” on whether he would seek re-election to the office he has held since 2004, when he was appointed to complete the term of former Sheriff Glenn Maynor. Sealey won election to four-year terms in 2006, 2010 and 2014, and Graham served as his campaign manager and treasurer in the last two elections.
“Randy has been a great employee,” Sealey said.
Before joining the Sheriff’s Office, Graham worked with the state Department of Public Safety’s Juvenile Justice Division. He left as chief court counselor.
Graham has served on numerous state boards. Among his awards are the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor North Carolina bestows.
Graham has been an adjunct professor in the Criminal Justice Department at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He also has taught and coached in the Public Schools of Robeson County.
The race for sheriff in 2018 could be crowded. In addition to Graham, Burnis Wilkins, a Lumberton city councilman and career law enforcement officer; Lennis Watts, a former highway patrolman and former county commissioner and twice a candidate for sheriff; and Ronnie Patterson, chief of police in Red Springs, have all hinted they would run for sheriff.
Filing is early next year, with the primary scheduled for March.
Mike Gellatly can be reached at 910-816-1969. Editor Donnie Douglas contributed to this story. He can be reached at 910-416-5649.