You can walk for miles on some parts and never see anyone. It’s one of the few locations in America where you can drive right on the beach to access hard-to-reach adventures and see wild Mustangs running among crashing waves. For residents and visitors, this place is considered paradise.
Sheriff Susan Johnson
Elected in 2000, Sheriff Susan Johnson has risen above controversy to bring the Currituck County Sheriff’s Department into modern policing. Her critic’s biggest complaint is more of a question: How is someone without a college degree or law enforcement experience qualified to lead a sheriff’s department?
She worked for years in the office administration and knew the inner-workings of the agency better than most. Her honorable character and reputation for maintaining ethics garnered the support of many deputies and helped earn the trust of her constituents.
“Since Sheriff Johnson was elected, we’ve come a long way,” says Chief Deputy Sand Casey. “She’s a workhorse. In the last 10 years, we’ve grown from 17,000 to 26,000 residents and they want the same services of a larger agency. She understands the budget and how to work with county administrators to get the equipment we need. Before she came on we didn’t have a boat, an ATV, or an SRT (Special Response Team).
For those who live among Currituck County’s giant sand dunes, you must drive a four-wheel drive vehicle sensibly to maneuver your way home. There are no incorporated towns or cities, making it one of two counties in North Carolina with that distinction. Even though just 26,000 year-round residents live in the county, the population can swell to 50,000 during summer vacation months. The county’s mainland is divided from the Outer Banks (OBX) by the Currituck Sound, which gives the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office a unique challenge to ensure the safety for all those who reside and travel through this vacation destination.
“Our county is very unique,” says Casey. “We have three geographic locations, no municipalities, and limited assistance.” There are 64 full-time sheriff’s deputies, three active part-time with a budget to fill eight new positions. Patrol can be stretched, with just three stations at Knotts Island, Corolla, and Corova to place deputies throughout the extended parts. “To get to some remote parts of the county, we must ferry or drive through Virginia. To access the Outer Banks, we usually have to drive in another county. Four officers live on Knotts Island and they definitely rely on one another. Response time for support can range between 20 and 30 minutes.”