Sheriff Dance reminisces on first year in office

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - Sheriff Paula Dance is reminiscing on her first-year accomplishments as the sheriff of Pitt County.

Sheriff Dance took office exactly one year ago and became the first African American woman to be elected sheriff in the state of North Carolina, and the fifth in the entire country.

“I sometimes forget that I am sheriff, but not in the sense that I forget my responsibilities, but this is what I’ve done naturally for many years,” Dance said.

When asked to describe her first year in one word, Dance had this to say: “Surreal. Surreal would be the word.”

Dance has accomplished many of the things she set out to do this year, such as her new programs for the Pitt County Detention Center. This includes S.H.A.R.P. or Sheriff’s Heroin Addiction Recovery Program. She’s also proud of the new equipment she’s brought to the sheriff’s office.

Dance said, “My first course of action was to go after those body cameras. I think that it was a disservice to the citizens not to be able to have a way to have transparency in how we deal with the citizens.”

Jason Jackson is the program coordinator at the detention center. He says it’s been a joy working with the sheriff.

“It’s been very eventful. It’s been very fun, exciting, and I’m enjoying the experience and the opportunity I have to grow with her here,” Jackson said.

Jackson says some of the program participants have been released into the community.

“They have full-time jobs, housing, so they’re doing very well. They’re successful,” said Jackson.

Dance’s favorite memories include meeting and inspiring young girls who look like her and seeing people in the community get emotional about meeting her. She wants to make a mark during her term.

“I want to leave this place a better place than when I came,” said Dance.

As far as what’s to come next for next year, Dance says she has a list of things to accomplish including bringing the sheriff’s office into the 21st century.

Dance said, “Drones come to mind. That is a very much-needed tool in helping us to combat crime.”

Dance still has three more years left in her term. When asked if she would run again, she said she can’t accomplish all she’s set out to do on one term.