NASH COUNTY, N.C. — A newspaper clipping on Nash County Sheriff Jimmy Grimes' office wall marks the first time he was elected as sheriff. The headline reads: "It's Sheriff Grimes." That won't be the case for long. Grimes announced Wednesday that he is retiring, effective at the end of December.
"A gentleman told me one time you'd know when it was time, and I think 31 years is long enough for most of us in this profession," Grimes said. "I feel like I'm retiring on top. There's been no scandal about anything I've done or the sheriff's office has done."
Through 11 years as sheriff, Grimes said he has seen rural Nash County grow rapidly as well as one type of crime in particular.
"Domestic violence and child abuse have really grown to where I don't know what we're going to do with it," he said. "It's got to go zero tolerance."
Grimes recently helped form a committee to address the problem.
Grimes, who has worked hundreds of crime scenes in 31 years, said one scene sticks with him: of a mother, her 10-year-old son, and two men killed in their home.
"I think that one will always haunt me -- looking at that young child," he said.
Grimes spent 20 years with the Rocky Mount Police Department before being first elected sheriff in November of 1994. His last term was supposed to conclude in November 2006.
"Am I stepping down too early?" Grimes asked. "My mind and my body say it's time."
In addition to the newspaper clipping that marked the first time he was elected to office, Grimes has another cherished picture on his office wall: a drawing by a fifth grader that says "Jimmy Grimes doesn't stop until it's over."
Nash County commissioners will appoint an interim sheriff to serve until next year's election.