Sheriff John Ingram looks back on law enforcement career of 30+ years
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram is retiring effective April 30, ending a law enforcement career that spans more than 30 years in southeastern North Carolina, the last 15 as the leader of the sheriff’s office.
“It’s bittersweet, because I love what I do,” Ingram said. “I love working with the community and serving the community, working with the folks here (in the sheriff’s office), who are some of the best the profession has to offer. I’m definitely gonna miss that, you know, the relationships and the connections and seeing a lot of the folks on a daily basis. That’s gonna be hard.”
Ingram grew up in the Ash community of Brunswick County and began his career with the sheriff’s office in 1991. He left briefly to serve with the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office for two years before returning to the BCSO in 2008 to become chief deputy. After former Sheriff Ronald Hewett resigned following an indictment, Ingram was appointed as interim sheriff. He won his first election in 2010 and won re-election campaigns in 2014, 2018 and 2022.
“In the beginning, I never wanted to be sheriff,” Ingram admitted. “That was never a goal of mine. My goal was to be chief deputy. Then, when I found myself in that position and became sheriff, I tried like everyone else, working together trying to build the agency up, make connections with the community and address the issues we were faced with at the time.”
Ingram says he learned on the job about the importance of the office, and the responsibilities that come along with it. He’s led through the opioid crisis, the escalation of gun violence, several hurricanes, a deadly tornado and so much more. Along the way, he has balanced the politics of the position with the desire to serve the community where he grew up.
“You realize that all of it stops with you,” he said. “You’re responsible for the safety and security of the county. It’s a tough job, and it’s 24/7. You don’t get to take a break from it. You can take small breaks, but you’re never really disconnected from it.”
Ingram has recommended Chief Deputy Brian Chism to be named the interim sheriff, and serve the remainder of the current term until 2026. Like Ingram, Chism started his law enforcement career with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office 18 years ago. The Brunswick County Republican Party’s Executive Committee meets Monday night, April 24, and is expected to recommend Chism as the candidate to succeed Ingram as Interim. County commissioners must approve the recommendation, which is likely to take place next week.
“He’s always had a solid career, is respected by his peers, and he’s just a natural fit for it,” Ingram said about Chism. “He has a tremendous heart for serving this community, and I feel confident that if given the opportunity, he’d make a great sheriff.”
“I feel like I’ve been handed the keys to a Rolls Royce because we are very fortunate to be where we are, not only here in the sheriff’s office, but respected by the community,” Chism said. “One of the hardest challenges for me is going to trying to figure out how I can make it better than what it is right now, because of what the sheriff has done.”
Ingram says one of the things he is most proud of implementing is the sheriff’s office volunteer program, which he calls one of the most active in the state, if not the entire country. The idea behind the program was to open the doors to the community, getting more citizens involved and increasing the transparency of the agency. His parting message is to thank the members of the community, and the men and women he worked alongside for more than three decades.
“I am so grateful they gave me the opportunity to serve, not just in the capacity as sheriff, but as a deputy,” Ingram said while fighting back his emotions. “Everything that I was able to be a part of throughout the years, and the support that they’ve given this agency to help it become what it is today, we could not have done that without them. And I am extremely thankful to the men and women of this agency.”
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