Edgecombe sheriff announces retirement
By Philip Sayblack
Thursday, January 5, 2017
A local law enforcement leader has announced he will soon be hanging up his badge.
Edgecombe County Sheriff James L. Knight announced Thursday he will step down next month. The surprise announcement comes after a successful 20-year career with the department.
Knight’s final day on the job will be Feb. 28. He was humble as he announced his retirement in a press release, choosing to praise the agency’s deputies and other employees rather than focus on himself.
“It has been an honor to serve as sheriff for the past 20 years,” Knight said. “It is with mixed emotions that I have made the difficult decision to retire. Throughout this journey, the sheriff’s office has overcome many challenges and accomplished several milestones.”
He said the decision to retire had been long in coming.
“It had been off and on over the last three to four years,” Knight said. “The decision came around the end of the year last year.”
He said while he has made the decision to retire, coming to terms with the decision was not easy. Even as hard as it was, Knight said, he is confident in the decision and he is looking forward to spending more time with his family. He said the executive board of the Edgecombe County Democratic Party will choose the county’s next sheriff and thought the process wouldn’t take long.
“I think the decision might be made very soon,” Knight said.
Edgecombe County’s first black sheriff, Knight was appointed to the position in 1996 to serve out the unexpired term of former Sheriff Phil Ellis after Ellis retired. Knight’s term ends in 2018, so his successor will finish Knight’s term and will have to run for election in 2018 after that if he or she wants to remain in the position.
Tarboro Police Chief Jesse Webb said he did not work extensively with Knight, but did work with him some. He said from those partnerships, he had a high opinion of Knight and his leadership.
“His style of leadership will be missed,” Webb said. “I am confident though, that his leadership traits will be passed down to his staff.”
Webb added he feels Edgecombe County will be losing out because of the mark Knight made through his leadership, calling him “a solid leader for the community in whole.”