Sheriff David Carpenter
For the past 31 years, Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter has dedicated his life to law enforcement.
“I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement when I was 10 years old,” Carpenter recalled.
With that goal in mind, Carpenter worked diligently in his studies at West Lincoln High School, which would pay off his senior year when he landed a job working as a part-time dispatcher for the county. He knew then that he would stay true to his native Long Shoals roots, dating back generations to the 1750s.
“When I worked as a dispatcher, the communications center was still located in the basement of the courthouse,” he said. “A year later, a full-time job with the center opened, and I jumped on the opportunity to work with the county.”
Like his career, Carpenter found his future spouse at an age earlier than most.
“I’m married to my high school sweetheart,” he said, smiling. “I met my wife, Edie, while cruising the Court Square with my friends. A lot of love stories were made there.”
The couple married soon after they graduated from their respective high schools; Carpenter from West Lincoln High School and Edie from Lincolnton High School. Together, they raised their daughter, Crystal, who currently works as a fifth grade teacher at Union Elementary. The couple celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary on Wednesday.
After two and a half years as a dispatcher, Carpenter was old enough to be qualified as a full time deputy, which requires those serving to be at least 21 years of age. After working as a Road Patrol Deputy, Carpenter was promoted to the position of Detective in 1989.
“For six months, I worked as a detective, conducting general investigations and investigating break-ins and robberies,” he said.
When a position opened up in the Narcotics Division, Carpenter jumped on the opportunity.
“I had always wanted to work as a Narcotics Investigator,” he said. “I had helped a bit while I was a detective, and the work really interested me. I was honored to have that opportunity. It was one of the best jobs I’ve had; it was very rewarding and an exciting field to work in.”
After five years of service in the Narcotics Division, Carpenter was promoted to Detective Sergeant, and two years later, to Lieutenant. As lieutenant, he developed a Community Policing Team for the Sheriff’s Office, after receiving a federal grant in 1995 to fund the endeavor.
“The grant enabled us to start a bicycle patrol and the county’s first ever lake patrol,” Carpenter said. “We were able to build on our crime prevention, technology and community watch. In 1997, we instituted a School Resource Officer for each high school in the county.”
In 2001, Carpenter returned to his road policing roots as a Road Police Lieutenant, attending to a diverse range of 911 dispatch calls. He also supervised a county officers’ team, which, under his leadership, transformed into dividing the county into different patrol districts to better serve the varying concerns throughout the area.
Carpenter’s role in law enforcement changed once again in 2006, when he was hired as a State Probation-Parole Officer for the county in November of 2006, serving in that capacity until 2010, when he was elected as Sheriff for Lincoln County.
Carpenter admits that there have been several opportunities over the years to work in law enforcement outside of Lincoln County.
“I’ve never come close to leaving Lincoln County’s law enforcement,” he said. “Honestly, if I were going to lay my life down on the line, I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else. My friends and family are here, and I don’t think there’s any other county in North Carolina better than Lincoln County.”
While his duties as a sheriff keep Carpenter quite busy, he tries to make time for his hobbies, often with his wife and 2.5-year-old puppy, Bonnie, in tow.
“We have a Jeep Wrangler that we’ll ride around in with the dog, and we have a small get-a-way in the mountains that we like to visit,” Carpenter said. “We spoil Bonnie to death. She goes with us everywhere.”
Motorcycles are another passion the couple shares.
“Growing up, I was always riding dirt bikes, and in 1997, I had an opportunity to buy a motorcycle,” he said. “We started out riding together on mine, and after a few years, we got Edie her own. We enjoy riding on local roads, and we always go down to the Myrtle Beach Bike Rally each May.”
While Carpenter has enjoyed his career as a law enforcement officer thus far, he knows he would not have been able to endure the demands of the profession without family support.
“When you’re in the law enforcement field, you have to have a strong support network, and I’ve always had that with my wife and daughter,” Carpenter said. “When I was a Drug Investigator, I was working nights and was away from home a lot. It really helps out the individual, and I’m thankful I’ve had that for my entire career. This job is not for the money, but for the dedication and time you put into it.”
This year, Carpenter is running unopposed for the Lincoln County Sheriff position.
“I think we’ve got something good going, and I want to keep this effort we’ve established continued,” Carpenter said. “The general public seems happy with what we’re doing, and I’m hoping to keep that going if we can.”