Local News

Commissioners appoint Cumberland's first black sheriff

Posted January 3, 2017 7:59 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:39 p.m. EDT

— Cumberland County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Chief Deputy Ennis Wright as the county's new sheriff after the retirement of longtime lawman Earl "Moose" Butler.

"I've been doing this for 23-and-a-half years," said Wright, who becomes Cumberland County's first black sheriff. "I served my country, and I came back home to serve my community. I'm part of this community, and I'm looking forward to being a great sheriff."

Trudy Wright said that, after 20 plus years of public service, she thought her husband would retire.

"That's what I thought, but the man upstairs had a plan, and we're here to follow that plan," Trudy Wright said.

After taking his oath of office, Ennis Wright, 57, said he regrets his mother, who raised him and his five brothers by herself in Fayetteville, wasn't alive to see his achievement.

"I hope I have made her proud today, and I hope she's looking down on me, saying, 'Good job, son,'" he said.

Butler, 79, who served as sheriff for 22 years, announced his retirement in November, and his last day was Saturday.

He recommended Wright to fill the position for the rest of the term, which ends in 2018. Wright, an Army veteran, has worked for the sheriff's office for 20 years, including the last three as chief deputy.

"I think he's head and shoulders above the rest," Butler said Tuesday. "No personal attack on anybody, but he's there. He knows what's going on, and this sheriff's office will continue to operate like it has in the past."

The recommendation, though, didn't make Wright a lock for the job. Last month, Commissioner Jimmy Keefe had the county open the position to anyone who wanted to apply.

Commissioners solicited more applicants, and at least 10 others applied for the job.

"I was disappointed in it, but I've talked with Jimmy, and I think he wanted to give it a total picture of giving everybody an opportunity to apply," Butler said.

Several of the other applicants said they plan to run for sheriff in two years.