The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA) recently recognized 49 members of the General Assembly for their work during the 2023 legislative session protecting public safety in the state with the Association’s 2023 Defender of Public Safety Award. 

The Association, which began the tradition following the 2015 legislative session, presented the award to 32 House and 17 Senate members. 

“Every legislative session sees a heavy concentration of law enforcement and public safety-related bills,” said Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood, chairman of the association’s executive committee. “This award is a small token of thanks to those legislators who went above and beyond to represent the legislative positions of importance to the sheriffs in North Carolina. Association leadership uses a list of carefully selected criteria when determining who qualifies for the award because we want this award to be meaningful.”

Bills that became law include H.B. 34, Protect Those Who Serve and Protect Act, H.B. 40, Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder, S.B. 58, Protect

Critical Infrastructure, S.B. 189, Fentanyl Drug Offenses and Related Charges, and H.B. 186, Juv Just Mods/DOI/Expenses/Tech Changes, which modified the law that will allow law enforcement to release identifying information of a juvenile to the public if they commit a serious criminal offense.

“We are very grateful to the leadership and members of the 2023 Legislature for all of the good legislation that they enacted that is very pro-law enforcement, pro-public safety, and very supportive of our victims,” Eddie Caldwell, Jr. executive vice president and general counsel of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association told Carolina Journal in a recent phone interview. “It was an outstanding year in terms of the legislature enacting good legislation related to law enforcement and public safety.”

Caldwell told CJ the Sheriffs’ Association will be working with the legislature this year on ways to increase criminal penalties for issues surrounding fentanyl and on House Bills 810 and 768, which will help with the recruitment issues that law enforcement agencies are facing.

“These bills are designed to allow folks to continue to work who might have reached retirement age and continue to draw a salary and draw their retirement benefits, and so we’re very interested in that,” he said.