BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Had things worked out differently, John Ingram might not be wearing a badge to work every day. John grew up helping his father on the family farm in Brunswick County. Until a family friend mentioned law enforcement as a possible career, he hadn’t given it much thought.
“I’d actually started work with Brunswick Electric (Membership Corporation), which is a really good career,” he said. “I started out there reading meters. I was doing that and started putting myself through Basic Law Enforcement Training at night.”
John graduated from BLET and signed on to become a deputy with the sheriff’s office in his home county. That was 1991. He rose through the ranks, working for Sheriffs John Carr Davis and Ronald Hewett before moving over to Columbus County in 2004 to join Sheriff Chris Batten’s team. John became the Chief Deputy in the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office in 2006. When Hewett resigned in 2008, County Commissioners unanimously approved appointing John Ingram as the new sheriff. After eleven years and three elections, he looks back at how things have changed starting at 4:00 of the podcast.
“The law enforcement that I began my career in does not exist any longer,” Sheriff Ingram said. “We’re so far advanced, and we utilize technology that we would never even thought of when I started. The challenges are very different as well. I always stress this to the folks I work with, that I have the honor of working with, that we have to evolve with the times. We can never get complacent or revert back to that old saying ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’. That’s one of the things I dislike hearing the most.”
John Ingram will tell you he is not a politician, even though he asks people for support every four years at the voting booth. He draws a clear line between politics and law enforcement, which he talked about 29:30 of the interview.
“I am not going to let politics interfere with the operation of the sheriff’s office,” he said. “I’ve told many people, and I continue to tell them, you may support me in an election. You may donate to my campaign. But if you commit a crime, you’re going to be held accountable just like everybody else. It’s not going to get you a free pass, and we don’t have any ‘get out of jail free’ cards.”
As sheriff, the married father of four boys has had to face those types of issues personally, with his oldest son being charged twice for driving while impaired. He addresses the situation at 23:10 of the podcast. During our conversation, Sheriff Ingram also talked about the personal tragedy he suffered as a teenager, when his brother was killed by a drunk driver. He shares that experience with young people in the community to warn about the dangers of drunk driving and making bad decisions.
“My brother made the decision to get in the car with a friend,” he recalls. “He had been drinking, it was a rainy night. They went down a road right near Ocean Isle, a very curvy road that had a big huge oak tree that still stands there to this day. That made a lasting impact on me and had a devastating impact on my family. I share that with folks today, not for sympathy, but to stress the importance of making good decisions and trying your best.”
Sheriff Ingram is quick to praise the people inside his office for their work solving crimes and protecting the public. He worked in patrol, narcotics, SWAT and other divisions during his career, and speaks from experience on the diligence needed to bring investigations to a close. We talked about what he likes to do to relax, and the rewards of becoming a grandfather. I hope you enjoy getting to know him a little better through our conversation.
You can hear my full interview with Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram, by clicking on any of the links below.
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