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The tears shed were overshadowed by the cheers yelled as Tyree Davis was sworn in as Halifax County’s new sheriff Monday.

The tears came as Davis discussed the third campaign which led him to the road to victory in the May 17 Democratic primary in which he defeated former sheriff’s office Chief Deputy Scott Hall and retired North Carolina State Highway Patrol Sergeant Jimmie Silver.

Davis told the audience assembled in the Halifax County Superior Courtroom that gatherings like this were not his style, that he was ready for himself and his staff to get to work. 

Family, however, “They told me this was bigger. When it came to this election and what’s happening today the rest of the citizens decided they wanted me in this office and everybody else needs to share a part of it.”

Then he broke down for a moment before continuing, his wife and two children joining him for support as he gained his composure. “You think it’s just the elections,” he said, “trying to get the community to pull behind you and recognize the long nights and long days taking away from your family.”

Being a law enforcement officer, he said, “Takes a lot on a family to be able to do this — especially as long as I’ve been trying to do it. My kids will probably never understand how important this day is. They don’t know all the trials and tribulations you have to go through.”

He thanked those in the packed courthouse for coming out and gave a special thanks to the Enfield town board where he worked first as a police officer and then town administrator. “They made me the captain, they made me chief, they made me their town administrator. They had faith in me when a lot of other people didn’t. I want to thank them for giving me the opportunity. Because of those opportunities I have this opportunity.”

Davis said he ran for change and the people of Halifax County voted for change. “I ran on change, being fair, firm and consistent.”

He told his staff, “Today we celebrate, tomorrow we get to work.”

Before the oath of office

His remarks came after he and his staff had been sworn in by District Court Judge Teresa R. Freeman, who noted after the special session of court opened, “I have never seen this courtroom so packed. We’re happy it’s so packed because today is a very special day.”

Jackson Brown, an educator, was asked to give the purpose of the occasion, which occurred several hours after Halifax County commissioners appointed Davis sheriff to fill the unexpired term of former Sheriff Wes Tripp, whose retirement was effective the first day of the month.

“What a wonderful point in time to place a mark in the history of Halifax County,” Brown said. “We are here today to show the will of the people by the act of swearing in the honorable Tyree Davis. This ceremonial act serves as the catalyst to recognize the significance of this occasion in all of our lives and to bring us together in unity for the transition from one phase of leadership to another in order to maintain the core values of our society. We look forward to the possibilities of hope of this change, making our lives, our communities and our world a better place to live.”

Attorney Chance Lynch, whose duty was to introduce Davis, said, “I think that today’s attendance shows how momentous this occasion is. This is a good day for Halifax County. This is a historical moment for all the elections and all the swearing-ins that I’ve been a part of. Today is an exceptional moment for our county as this court will swear in the first Black sheriff of Halifax County.”

Said Lynch: “I think this a testament to how far we’ve come but it’s also a testament to how much more work we have to do. He has been a leader in the community even without positions or titles. What I’ve learned is that he is a man of great integrity. I believe he is going to be a key example — not just for us, but for all these deputies who get out every day and risk their lives to provide the blanket of safety and freedom we rest on.”

Ending his introduction, Lynch said, “I believe he is going to be the leader that not only we will respect but law enforcement agencies across this country will respect.”

North Carolina state Representative Michael Wray told Davis, “I’m honored to stand with you. I commend you for your leadership and I look forward to working with you on legislative agenda items. I look forward to a long friendship with you and continue to work with you hand in hand and arm in arm.”


At the end of the ceremony and before a reception in his honor at the Halifax County Extension Auditorium Davis said taking the oath was the culmination of the efforts to become the county’s new sheriff. “It was a relief. This day has been coming up for many, many years. But to actually be here and to do it was just a relief — to have it here and do it, get it done and get it over with so we can get to work.”

As he mentioned in his remarks following the oath, the rallying cry of the Davis administration is fair, firm and consistent treatment to everybody, he said. That includes, “Being respectful and courteous to everybody but also coming out here and being proactive instead of reactive. Hopefully we can work our way to being co-active with the community.”

As it stood Monday, only one person, a deputy, had left the sheriff’s office and that was because the officer had put in an application for work outside law enforcement a year ago. “He called me up and told me it had nothing to do with the election or who won but he was going to go and take that opportunity. I wished him the best and we’re still holding his certification in case he wants to come back to work.”

Davis knows the rumors that swirl when a new sheriff comes in, that people will be asked to move on. “I told them as long as you work and do what you’re supposed to then you don’t have to worry about a thing. Stay out of politics because I’m going to try to stay out of politics because I don’t think politics in law enforcement should mix.”

Dixon and Hall

Davis has named former Gaston police Chief Corey Dixon his chief deputy. “I reached out to people with multiple agencies and even the sheriff’s office and asked who out there in the law enforcement world has the administration part, knows about budgets and deals with people and will also fit with my vision and demeanor. Several people recommended Corey Dixon. He had a lot of the same vision that I have and was looking for.”

Hall, the former chief deputy under the Tripp administration, has been named the new jail administrator.

“One thing people fail to realize is me and Scott ran for the same position but at no point were we ever enemies,” Davis said. “We’re friends till this day. He thought he could do a position and I thought I could do a position. I had one vote and he had one vote. The citizens of the county decided who they wanted for sheriff. That does not mean just because they voted for me that Scott is not an asset to this department. He is. I met with Chief Hall and asked him about staying onboard and being the jail administrator. I had to ask the county to switch the position from a non-sworn position to a sworn position so he could keep his law enforcement benefits and everything else so he could retire as a law enforcement officer.”

There will be other reassignments, he said. “People are going to move to different positions — move to what’s best for the department and best for the county. The sheriff’s office has a lot of great deputies. I never once questioned the deputies. It was the direction that I questioned and I bring a different direction.” 

Said Davis: “We need to be a law enforcement agency first. Your safety and security is our number-one priority. Everything else is extra but in doing so we’re going to be respectful, we’re going to be courteous, we’re going to be professional. We’re going to be fair, firm and consistent and treat everybody the same. It shouldn’t matter who you are, what title you hold or what your status is on how you get treated. That’s the same thing I brought to Enfield, bringing stability. People need that.”

That’s what happened in Enfield, something that Commissioner Patrick Qualls noted in the earlier board meeting where Davis was appointed. “In Enfield we were able to bring a good team,” Davis said. “It wasn’t just me. It starts with leadership. Here we’re going to have a good team of leaders and we’re going to take the same thing we did in Enfield and we’re going to bring it here and use that mentality and direction here for the county. We’re just going to do it on a bigger scale.”