Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes one year anniversary

CRAVEN COUNTY, NC (WITN) - Tuesday marks one year since Chip Hughes replaced Jerry Monette as the Sheriff in Craven County.

As Hughes reflects on his first year in office, he says the experience has been both rewarding, and humbling.

"That three days we were searching for Casey seemed like months."

Less than two months after taking office, Hughes and his staff were faced with the task of locating Casey Hathaway-- a three-year old boy who went missing from his grandmother's home.

"The odds were not in his favor to survive that-- the elements. And what brought us through was the passion of the folks that work here at this office to find this child. The promise we made to the family," Hughes recalls.

While the rescue of the missing boy is his most proud moment, it's just one of the many first year accomplishments his office has experienced-- including school and student safety.

"I wanted additional school resource officers. So we could have a pulse on what exactly is going on in each of these schools every day," explained Hughes.

Hughes also boasts the impact of his office's new Animal Protective Services Division.

Roughly 450 animals have been seized in his first year in office-- helping lead them to many other serious offenders in the county.

"The staff I've got running that Animal Protective Services Division is second to none. I would put them up against anybody. They do a phenomenal job and they're dedicated."

Going forward, Hughes says curbing the opioid epidemic and increasing the crackdown on narcotics is a critical point of focus.

"It is the leading killer in this county, therefore it is a number one priority," says Hughes.

And through all the success, he says the job is still a dream come true.

"Everyday I wake up and get to come to a job that I love, and to be able to give back to a county and community that's been so good to me."

Hughes also thanked the public and other departments for the support they've given his office saying they're a team and they couldn't be successful without them.