Harnett Sheriff seeks another term

By Rick Curl
Dunn’s daily record

Before the suspension of the nomination period for this year’s municipal elections, Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats sought another term.

With the uncertainty of COVID-19 legal wrangling over gerrymandering, Coats decided to file day one for what he calls the “best job in the world,” instead of waiting until February as he l did in the last election. Coats chose Valentine’s Day to share with his wife, Dale.

“This year I wanted to go ahead and get it out there because of how it turned out,” Coats said. “I filed the first day. Fortunately, because the next day they closed it. So I wanted the citizens of this county to know that I am running again.

When you ask him why he decided to try to extend his stay at the sheriff’s office, Coats replies that the first reason is his passion for the job. He has been a law enforcement officer for nearly 29 years, the last 25 with the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re doing a lot of good things here at the sheriff’s office and I’m not ready to quit,” he said. “I’m not ready to retire, I’m lucky to be in good health and I love what I do. I have a great group of men and women around me and we still have a lot to do for the good people in this county.


As he continues to offer a list of his accomplishments as a sheriff, Coats cites several accomplishments, none more indicative of his department than certification by CALEA. National law enforcement accreditation is recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the National Sheriff’s Association.

“It’s a great honor,” he said. “It keeps you and your department at a higher level. They don’t define your policies. What they do is make sure you enforce your policies.

Next on the list is the implementation of a Citizens’ Academy, which Coats and his staff hope will change the perception of how the department operates. The program gives residents who are selected to attend, the opportunity to learn about various aspects of the sheriff’s office and gives them rare access, according to Coats.

“He did exactly what we wanted him to do,” he said. “There are 12 Tuesday nights and each department in the Sheriff’s Office shares their different duties with the students.”

Coats cites another benefit as creating what he calls an “impact team,” a group of officers focusing on more than just traffic checks or answering routine calls. The deputies group can focus on more specialized patrolling, such as high crime areas or places where speeding is a problem.

“We will put them there to be visible, for example, and launch radar or patrol an area where we are most needed,” he said. “We are doing a lot with this program.”

Other accomplishments that Coats considers important include sending supervisory staff to specialized training for leadership skills and problem solving.

Extensive training isn’t just limited to supervisory staff, according to Coats, he’s increased the annual training every deputy is required to do beyond what the state calls for annually.

“We double, sometimes triple what the state requires,” he said. “That’s what we wanted to be the best at what we do.”

Other accomplishments, he notes, include:

Project Lifesaver, a voluntary program used to help track people with dementia and other cognitive issues, if they leave their homes.

Increasing the number of School Resource Officers in each school in Harnett County.

On-board cameras at no cost to county ratepayers. The money for the cameras came from money from the confiscation of assets taken by, among others, drug traffickers.

Put “In God We Trust” on patrols and other vehicles.

Cameras on school buses to catch drivers overtaking buses.

A professional standards review to take all complaints against the department before sending the complaint to an internal affairs unit.

Educational programs for students on the use of opioids.

Installation of an athletics league and full-time police activities for the HCSO.

A dedicated gang officer, to validate and recognize gang members.

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