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New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey surprised a lot of people when he announced his retirement Tuesday.

At age 64, Sheriff Causey is taking the county's golden parachute, the early retirement package aimed at trimming New Hanover County's payroll.

WWAY’s Jenna Caiazzo sat down with Sheriff Causey late this afternoon and spoke to him about his 39 years with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department.

Causey's career in law enforcement started on a whim. Back in 1970, Causey quit his job in construction and took a position as a police officer at Carolina Beach.

"Children growing up have ambitions to be firemen, doctors, lawyers and everything, and I never thought I had a desire to be a law enforcement officer,” Causey said.

It wasn't until he cracked his first breaking and entering case that he said, he was hooked on fighting crime. He's come a long way since the days of the Carolina Beach PD, where he said the two police vehicles each had more than 150,000 miles on them.

"Six days a week, no overtime, no flex time, one pair of pants and two shirts," Causey said.

At 25, he moved on to the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department where he got his feet wet in every department: patrol, criminal investigations and vice narcotics.

Thirty-nine years later, Causey said it's time for something new.

"It's just going to be a new time in our lives," he said. "I'm a little anxious about it. I'll be around. It's not like I'm moving out of town. I'll check on them, see if they're doing things right, and if they aren't I'll let them know, ha ha."

Causey will step down on July 1. He will then make a nomination to the Democratic Party for someone within the office to take over for the interim. That person will fill in through December. At that point, the party will make another nomination, and there will be an election for a new sheriff.


Comment on this Story

  • WilmMan

    Well, before you throw your opinion into things maybe you should learn a little more about the situations and about the departments in general. The ERT team are the ones that serve warrants. If your so called department (of what 2 officers) don’t use an ERT team to serve warrants then so be it….but does that mean you should condemn NHSO? How about Chicago PD or NYPD…they do the same thing.

    And before you compare one incident to another, you need to know more of the facts that surround that case. As I pointed out above, there are several reasons why the ERT team would be serving this warrant, and not just one ERT member.

  • Guestleo

    If I were to have made the call to send an ERT to serve a search warrant on Strickland I would be fired. The other kids arrested were not brought in with a paramilitary operation. $5 says neither was the taxi driver that was suspected in killing those two women on Carolina Beach Road.

    Either the sheriff’s guys are a bunch of cowards or they are poorly supervised. My guess is both.

  • WilmMan

    You really need to learn a little more about reading comprehension. I didn’t say just owning a gun made people dangerous. What gave LEO and the ERT a reason for being there is a compilation of things. First, the type of crime that initially occured. Secondly, the pictures on the internet (not of Peyton, but of one of the other suspects – it’s all about association). Thirdly, Peyton was charged previously with another type of physical abuse. Fourth, there was known to be drugs or drug use at that house and according to the Supreme Court, where there is drug use you can expect weapons. Fifth, Peyton did have a gun in the house. Do you need more reasons why the ERT team showed up? If you do, I serously doubt that you are in LE.

    Now, you say LEO saw Strickland playing a golf game on the playstation just before LEO entered the house. Well, that is news to me. NEVER has anyone reported that happening. If you are a LEO like you say you are, then you would know you only have seconds to react. The ERT team came to the door, knocked serveral times with no answer, the door is knocked open and there is a kid standing there was a black object in his hands. Should Long have shot? It’s easy to sit back and so no, but if you are the one whose life was in jeapordy that decision isn’t so easy to make.

    One last thing…every department does things differently. In NHC, the ERT team serves warrants. That is why they were there. Most big cities have a warrant squad that serves ALL warrants.

  • WilmMan

    Did Deputy Long have a criminal record? Was Cpl Long found guilty of murder?

  • we do have the right to speak our opinion whether you agree with our opinion or not. While we cannot stop “Sir Sid” from retiring, had he continued and ran for re-election, we could have “retired” him by not re-electing him.

  • gun shoe

    Once again for all of you that have not been around this here town for very long. It is normal practice for a retiring Sheriff to name his replacement. No One I mean NO ONE has the right to say anything. You will have NO choice in the matter. The Democratic party will agree with Sir Sid and the County Commissioners will also and we will have a new Sheriff! No One can stop Sir Sid from retiring when HE wants too! This is the way it has been done forever! So get ready because you don’t count. They will not have a speciel election!

  • Guestleo

    How is it you can say Peyton Strickland was a criminal? He has no criminal convictions, only one charge of popping an obnoxious drunk guy in the jaw at a party and he dropped the charges.

    What other charges did this boy have? A speeding ticket and a hunting without a license.

    The young Mr. Strickland was far from being a hardened criminal worthy of an ERT invasion. My God man, if I called out ERT every time I had to served a warrant they would be working round the clock.

    Don’t forget Deputy Long was charged with murder, is he a hardened criminal?

  • Just another thug off the street.

  • guesty

    Oh yes, poor lil’ peyton did have a record. I would also bet he had one up in Durham. Daddy must have thought moving him down here would help straighten him out. Didn’t work. I know he had an assault inflicting serious injury here in Wilmington.

  • Guestleo

    What are you saying? If you own a gun you are dangerous? You serious? You mean to tell me law enforcement officers should approach individuals differently because you suspect they may OWN a gun?

    Sir I work in the rural area of another county and nearly every single house I walk up to has a gun or two tucked away somewhere inside. Eleven year olds have shotguns in their closets. So according to you I need to have ERT back me up to serve a warrant? I’ve been to countless front doors, banging away to serve warrants ranging from felony assaults to serious charges of strong armed robbery. Probation officers knock on doors all the time to find an absconderer without riot gear and automatic shoulder weapons.

    Peyton Strickland’s juvenile record is sealed, he had no convictions. So in your head NHS and UNCWPD assumed it was dangerous and that gave them the authority to go in heavily armed. And to you it is perfectly OK for a kevlar covered trained point man looking right at a kid that seconds before was seen using this video game controller “weapon” to play a golf game on the tv in the open front window had every right to shoot through the door and into the head of Strickland because he flinched for a second in fear?

    Whose to say Chris Long should have never been at the door because of some drug problem? Whose to say that UNCW and members of the NHSO didn’t intentionally kill this kid because of poor training?

    Intentionally, that’s right I said it, ask Chris Long if he mean to kill Strickland or not. As any of the ERT guys is killing was an option in the game plan.

  • WilmMan

    Peyton DID have a criminal record. He had a juvenile probation officer at one time so that means he had a criminal record as a juvenile. He was also charged with an assault, but I believe that charge was later dropped. And having a father as a lawyer, there is no telling how many times he was able to get out of trouble that a normal person would not. I also NEVER saw one article or report saying that Stricklands gun was locked up in a safe. And even if it was, it doesn’t take away from the officers knowing he had a gun…they can’t know where it’s at inside the house. LEO also found drug paraphernalia inside the house. Another reason to raise LEO’s suspicions.

    Of course Causey apologized for the act that happened. McDonalds apologized to the lady that spilled her coffee on her lap and burned her. That Lady also won a huge out of court lawsuit. I bet you are one of those people that believe she was right also.

    I guess you forgot that that night, the ERT team knocked on the door several times and nobody came to the door. When Strickland finally did come to the door he had a black playstation controller in his hand. Who’s to say that looking thru a small window that controller couldn’t have looked like a handgun?

  • Guestwho

    I believe the costs for maintaining the SABLE helicopter are shared between the city, Leland and Pender County. When the two helicopters were donated by the Army in 2006, New Hanover County said they didn’t want to participate. Guess they changed their mind.

  • Guestwho

    Actually, the SABLE helicopters were donated by the Army and are shared by Leland and Pender County with the city. If I remember correctly, NHC was offered the opportunity to join the SABLE team, but they declined. It wasn’t until later that they bought their own helicopter.

  • Guestleo

    The two helicopters the WPD has were free, picked up from 20 years of use in Central America used fighting drugs. The operating cost is split between 4 other agencies. Causey was offered to participate and refused saying, “It was a waste of money” The sheriff then bought his own helicopter for $680,000 with a government grant for $267,000 and drug money he was expecting in the future. The rules for use of the “drug money” states that the money is to be used to eradicate drugs, not find lost drunk women in their backyard. Money is not allowed to be spent PRIOR to the money actually being seized. Causey is actually on record stating that he would be able to pay for the helicopter from future money coming in, not money already in hand. He could actually be brought up on misappropriation of funds charges and share a cell with Ron Hewett.

    Lt. Scott Gerow, the pilot, has a home building company he operates as well as his “on-call” position with the Sheriff. He is paid a little more than $50,000 per year.

    The helicopter cost $174.16 per hour to operate, not including the cost of the pilot.

  • Guestleo

    You said: “The deputies KNEW before they got there that this young man had weapons in the home, particularly GUNS. The deputies ALSO knew that this young man was NO altar boy…he had quite an eventful criminal past AND had bragged of his disdain for law enforcement officials.”

    Peyton had one gun, a shotgun he used for hunting, it was locked in a gun safe.

    Peyton had no criminal record.

    Who knows what Peyton thought of law enforcement PRIOR to those gunslingers shooting him in the head.

    Don’t forget Sid Causey apologized for the wrongful act that killed Peyton and the county paid out 2.5 million for it too.

    I am supportive of those who wear a badge. I wear one. But I have also no support for this sort of operation. Don’t forget, Peyton Strickland had NO prior criminal history and was shot through a door that had a window in it. Chris Long should have been criminally charged for manslaughter.

  • WilmMan

    Exactly how much money did the Sheriff’s Office pay for the helicopter? How do you know the pilot only works part time? Why would this helicopter cost more for maintenance than the ones the City has?

  • Friend

    You need help. Seek treatment, please…SOON.

    First of all, your spelling and your grammar are ATROCIOUS. It is very difficult to take you seriously at all when it does not appear that you have a firm grasp of English.

    Second, I’ll agree with you on ONE point you raised. I too am NO fan of Sid Causey. I don’t like him, did not vote for him, and cannot wait for him to leave.

    Third, your statement about “being petrafied of being shot down/murdered in my own home” (btw..it’s PETRIFIED, not petrafied” is ludicrous. Try to think of that situation for just a moment from the deputy’s point of view. The deputies KNEW before they got there that this young man had weapons in the home, particularly GUNS. The deputies ALSO knew that this young man was NO altar boy…he had quite an eventful criminal past AND had bragged of his disdain for law enforcement officials. If that deputy had been your spouse…your child…your friend, even – would you still believe that he did not have a right to defend himself from what he TRULY believed was a life or death situation? If it was me or anyone I knew, I’d DEFINITELY want my loved one protected. If it comes down to the choice of whether or not that disrespectful criminal or my loved goes home to their family that night, I’m voting for my loved one EVERY SINGLE TIME. Unless you are a cold-hearted toad, I bet you would too.

    Also…are you serious??!? You think that you can finally go to your door at night without fearing that someone – ANYONE – will shoot you down/murder you in your own home??!? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. What the hell kind of fairy land do YOU live in? ONLY law enforcement officials make you fear being shot and/or murdered?

    Yes, I’ve heard the argument that Peyton had a family too, and that they loved him, miss him, and are angry and hurt that he is gone. My heart really does go out to them. HOWEVER…he chose to act OUTSIDE OF THE LAW. He chose to believe and behave that he was above the law! Had that not been the case, would ANY of this have happened? Nope. The deputies were there because of Peyton’s criminal actions. The deputies knew that he was armed, and they knew that he had no respect for law whatsoever. We as a society ask our law enforcement to do things that the rest of us do not want to do. Because of that, I cut them WAY MORE SLACK than ANY criminal. This truly is an instance where walking in someone else’s shoes is the ONLY way to truly understand what happened. Go for a ride-along with ANY local law enforcement agency. Make sure you request the REALLY high traffic times for criminal activity. Sign up for a bar closing on a weekend night with WPD or the NHC Sheriff’s Deptartment, preferably a Saturday. Ride along and listen as the officers and deputies are asked to respond to endless calls for help…see for yourself how thinly they are stretched. You can’t help but walk away from something like that with a better understanding of what it feels like to find yourself face-to-face with someone who is armed to fight you and has made it known that they have no problems whatsoever with shooting YOU. Go on even a few of the calls like that and find yourself DESPERATELY hoping that your backup unit arrives SOON. That feeling stays with you long after that call is over. As a result, even though you might someday find yourself preparing to make entry with your fellow team members alongside, your first instinct to defend yourself and those with you FIRST AND FOREMOST will undoubtedly be at the forefront.

    Fourth, your claim that the deputies are all in on the “good ole boy” system is utterly ridiculous. Unlike you, I’ve WATCHED Sid’s deputies in action. I’ve been on ride-alongs, and I’ve seen how they treat citizens. I’ve even seen them deal with people that they know and like on a personal level, and I can honestly tell you that from my own experience as an observer that they treat everyone the same. THAT takes solid moral fiber. I have witnessed on more than one occasion when deputies had to arrest people they have known for YEARS. Difficult to do, wouldn’t you say? But to all of their credit, none of the deputies shirked their duties by letting a buddy of theirs go just because they knew them.

    In closing, let me add…if any of what I’ve typed here offends you, too bad. Get over it. Free speech in a free society means that I have the right to say what I think, and it also means that you have the right to ignore what I say.

    So yeah, SERIOUSLY, seek professional help IMMEDIATELY because you are definitely delusional.

  • Guest1111

    Why don’t you tag along with her, maybe you can get a group discount. Have you had this meaningless rambling problem for very long?

  • pilot

    Yes and the WPD has TWO helicopters but Causey would rather pay a pilot $78,000 for part time work and buy a million dollar helicopter thta has a annual a maintence budget of over $200,000 a year than pay the WPD for the gas for the use of theirs.

  • Marilyn G

    TOTALLY ELATED can not describe how I feel about Causey retiring. Finally I can go to my door at night(or anytime as far as that goes) without being petrafied of being shot down/murdered in my own home! Causey is “the supervisor” so he suppossedely trains/oversees his employees…??? In my opinion, the entire dept has been POORLY ran and only wish we as NHC residents did not have to admit we ever knew of him or even his name. I agree the dept is ran under the “good ole boy” system, personally knowing several deputies. I’m SO GLAD he’s leaving ONLY WISH IT HAD BEEN SOONER!!

  • Guest A. C. Craver

    Seems the Democrats will do anything to keep absolute power as to avoid elections. I know eastern N. C. is a Democratic hotbed but look out. Foreigners from other states and other parts of N. C. are moving here and quite a few are Republicans.

  • WilmMan

    There have only been a very few that have retired from the sheriff’s office and all of them have been upper level staff…so I’m gonna have to say BS. You are making everything up, but nice try

  • Guest1111

    So, if I am reading this correctly, they will end up holding a special election to replace a sherriff taking early retirement? Special elections cost tons of money. How is this going to help the budget?

  • WilmingtonMAJ

    Why not just do away with all these small towns and make Wilmington cover the whole county. Consolidate it all into one :)

  • Current Deputy

    We DO need a new leader in the department. However, I don’t think any organization will ever be totally free from political infighting and partisanship.

    I have to disagree with you about the helicopter. In my opinion, it paid for itself a few weeks ago. A young woman called 911 on a frigid Saturday night and stated that she lived “somewhere” off of Murrayville Road. She said that she had gone out into her back yard to retrieve her dog that she had let out earlier, and she wound up walking into the woods behind her home. She became lost and disoriented. The area that she was in is HEAVILY forested, and several deputies and EMS were dispatched to locate her. SO1, the helicopter, was also utilized. It is my firm belief that the young woman was found as quickly as she was because the helicopter was able to spot her from above and then guide those of us on the ground to her. In my opinion, the helicopter helped prevent that call from becoming a recovery of a body.

    Now I don’t know about you, but I am NOT willing to put a price tag on anyone’s life. I thank god we had the helicopter that night.

  • GuestDep

    One of the great things about this country is our free elections. In addition, we have the right of free speech. As a result of both, we the voting public are ENTIRELY within our rights to both praise or criticize our elected officials.

    If you truly do know a few deputies, you should also know that all deputies serve at the will of the sheriff. Sheriff Causey can fire any of his deputies at any time, and because ours is a Right-to-Work state, he can fire them without even having to state a reason. Do you think perhaps that little fact might have something to do with the deputies not being overly critical and vocal about their disdain for him?

  • former deputy

    I just retired not too long ago from that circus of a department. That Department needs a new leader and not one from the good ole boy move up eiter. Go to the sheriff’s web site and look at all of the command staff!!! 2 capts., in the jail…like 30 Lt.’s and 1st Sgts and two Chief Deputies. Stop giving your buddies rank because there mad that they feel left out. That why deputies are having to give furlough time. Need to trim the staff and put those people back on the street and in the jail to work. And ground that helicopter and sell it….there is a waisted million dollars.

  • Guest 49

    How is it that a person elected to office by the people of New Hanover County gets to take early retirement??????? And, how in the world is that supposed to save the County money?????? Won’t we have another sheriff? He’ll have the same benefits as the current one. I don’t get it – he was ELECTED. Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT sorry to see him go – it’s just that I do not understand why an elected official gets to take an early retirement – shouldn’t an elected office be exempt from that sort of perk? Elected official is a smidge different from your run-of-the-mill employee, and owes that time to the voters that put him in office.

    It’s a two-edged sword – as I said, I do not like him, but by the same token, he was elected to do a job for the voters, by the voters. What’s wrong with this picture???

  • Local 51

    First I would like to thank Sheriff Causey for his service to law enforcement here in New Hanover County.Good luck to you in the future.

    Second would this not be a good time to consolidate the Police and the Sheriffs Department.We have Chief Evangalist is more than qualified to do the job.That would save the county $140000 plus dollars a year just in salary.Plus I am sure there are other divisions of those 2 departments that can use less personell.

    I know there is a law ref to the sheriff be a elected office but I am sure there are ways to do it.Maybe some county officals will see where this could be a BIG savings.

  • Guest123

    I glad that he’s gone. He did a bad job of running New Hanover County Sheirff. When Joe McQueeen was in there we didn’t have half the problems we have now. Do all us a favor and go. You deputies all mess up too and anytime one of your offices rape a child need to be under a jail house and any to time your offices killes a person and then try to sugar coated dont’ need to be in offices. everytime I turn around you are always in the spot light and I’m glad that you are gone and so are other people. You did nothing but cause more headach then try to fix the real problem with drugs, gangs and child not being protected, ect. I hope that Joe MCQueen come back so we can feel safe in house and or child can be safe also.

  • amazed

    Since you obviously know so much about how to run a police department, you should run for sheriff. That way, the officers will be subject to every public whim, and can use the news stations as their unbiased evaluation tool! It is a good thing you are here to gauge the quality of the “swat wannabes” based on your first hand experience. If you want to offer such a caustic opinion of a group of people, you should do your research first, and not let the media think for you. Being a part of emergency services, I work with the patrol deputies and “swat wannabes” regularly. I am continually impressed with their level of training and professionalism, and I am happy that they do not have your attitude, because I have to trust them with my life. You can agree or disagree with what the sheriff does as a matter of policy, but please do not insult the hard working men and women who risk their lives daily for your safety, especially based on a situation you know nothing about.

  • jouster

    His supporters are many. So are Sheriff McQueens’. McQuenn supports Causey. Whoever they support for Sheriff will be our next Sheriff for years to come.
    My guess is get ready for years of Sheriff Ed McMahon. Here’s Johnny! Love the name. Brings back memories of late night tv when I was younger. I know people who are close to the McMahons. They speak very highly of the moral fiber of the man. I look forward to meeting him.
    Though I didn’t vote for Causey, I recognize the difficulties of the job he faced. I believe it was a good time for a change. Keep up the good job men and women of law enforcement.

  • Guest123

    Unless anyone knows Causey personally, they need to be quiet about how bad you think he is. No one is that bad. Hello, do you really believe everything the media reports to you? If you think you can do better then you run. But ya know there is a saying that goes like this “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I know a few of the deputies and I have not heard hardly any complaints about Causey. He was elected to office so he must have done something right. I agree with the one blogger about McMahon. He would be awesome.

  • Kara M

    Chief Deputy Mcmahon is a wonderful person. He was my School resource officer back in the early 1990’2 at Laney high school. Everyone loved him. Having two children of my own now,I would trust Chief McMahon with my children’s safety. I look forward to supporting McMahon!

  • Gene Tilly

    It is my distinct pleasure to have known our sheriff for a number of years. He is not only an outstanding sheriff, but an asset to New Hanover County. He will be missed and who ever steps in will have big shoes to fill. Thank you sheriff for a job well done.

  • cintrek

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your dedicated service to our community. I remember when you served at Carolina Beach. When I was a teenager at CB I was date raped, beaten & kidnapped, he was 19 & I was 17. A dear friend saw me & rescued me. Sid Causey was there to take the report & worked tirelessly (nearly a year) to locate the rapist who was across state lines. I will always be grateful to Sheriff Causey for his kindness & sympathy for my situation. The man only got 10mos. jail time for assault & attempt to rape but that was the way it was for some rape cases in the 70s-the judge believed his story that he had found God (I pray he did). Sid Causey you will always be my hero.

  • crime free citizen

    I have been living in Wilmington for more than 40 years.
    Sid could never fill the shoes of Joe McQueen. Joe never costs the taxpayers 2+ million. JOe left the office of sheriff with dignity and honor. Sid’s tenure was tainted by poorly trained swat wannabees and a laughing stock of law enforcement. Tom Radewitz was better than Sid!!!
    Funeral Tazing???come on people the whole country was laughing at this.
    I’M curious as to what other lawsuits against the sheriff’s dept are on the books pending trial. hummmmmmmmmmmmmmm???????????? don”t retire Sid….
    Apply for the job at UNCW’ Campus police. There’s another joke. rapist ,murderes drug dealers. While the campus police cruise around checking out the skirts. Real professional guys

  • WilmMan

    For all those that want to complain….here’s your chance. Quit running your mouth and do something about it. Causey is retiring which means in December there will be another election. Let’s see what some of you are made of. But I’m willing to bet you all will hide in your little corner, wait for a new Sheriff, then come back out and start complaining again.

  • informed

    No greater man could have endured this positon during some of its greatest challenges and kept us moving forward and keeping our county safe…a man who set up response for our seniors, was alwasys there for our school children, personally was there countless times whenever called on to do AnYTHING he was asked to serve his community as he tackled the gang and drug issues plaguing our area…a man of integrity. We will be hard pressed to find anyone of similar character who can do the great job that Sid has done. The only folks who opposed him are criminals and those who aspire to his greatness who cannot serve because of their own inadequacies. He is truly an inspiration.

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