On Monday, the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA) unveiled a billboard advertisement campaign intended to show and spread support for law enforcement in the state.

In a press release, the NCSA, a non-profit advocacy group composed of North Carolina’s 100 county sheriffs, announced that they will put up six billboards alongside busy sections of Interstate 40 throughout the state.

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The billboards read, “North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association supports law enforcement,” with the organization’s web address underneath.

The six billboards are the first ad campaign undertaken by the NCSA, a major undertaking of the group to publicly spread their pro-police message.

Established in 1922, the NCSA says its mission is to act as “a statewide voice” for sheriffs on issues important to law enforcement across the state, all to “increase public safety and protect the rights of the citizens of North Carolina.”

Eddie Caldwell, the NCSA’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, told Carolina Journal the billboards are necessary due to a lack of positive coverage of police in the mainstream press and are intended to reassure the NCSA’s “partners in law enforcement” of their support.

In the press release, Orange County Sheriff and NCSA President Charles Blackwood said, “the Association is proud to place our full support and gratitude on display so that our brave law enforcement personnel know we appreciate them. We hope every law enforcement officer who sees or hears about these billboards knows North Carolina sheriffs are proud of the work they are doing.”

According to a 2022 poll from High Point University, trust in law enforcement is low in North Carolina. 48 % of North Carolinians have a high level of trust in law enforcement, with only 18% having a “great deal” of confidence in the police.

Support for law enforcement is also low throughout the United States following years of public scrutiny over police tactics. A January poll published by ABC News and The Washington Post showed only 39% of Americans believe officers are adequately trained, a significant decrease from 2014 that showed 54% had confidence.

The NCSA hopes the campaign will play a role in remedying that situation. Caldwell said the campaign will have a “two-pronged message” encouraging those in law enforcement and the “huge silent majority” of North Carolinians who back police officers.

“Over 90% of citizens support law enforcement in North Carolina and the United States…but they don’t get any coverage in the media,” said Caldwell.

Constituents elect county sheriffs for four-year terms, the last elections happening in 2022. Currently, 64 N.C. sheriffs are Republican, 35 are Democrats, and one is independent. The NCSA’s Executive Committee consists of members from both parties. 

The billboards will be up for travelers to see throughout the summer, a peak tourism period in the Tarheel State.

Locations of the billboards are:

  • Buncombe County, I-40 Westbound near mile marker 62;
  • Duplin County, I-40 Westbound near mile marker 367;
  • Alamance County, I-40 Westbound near Exit 148;
  • Alamance County, I-40 Eastbound near Exit 143;
  • Orange County, I-40 Eastbound near Exit 157;
  • Pender County, I-40 Eastbound near mile marker 410.