Local News

Former Harnett sheriff says he resigned for personal reasons

Posted March 22, 2016 11:52 a.m. EDT
Updated March 22, 2016 8:06 p.m. EDT

— Former Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins told WRAL Tuesday that he decided to resign Monday evening due to "some personal issues." Rollins had served as sheriff since 2002.

"It has been about a year in the making," he said. "I have some personal issues going on in my life that take priority over the job at this time. There are things that come along in life. You play the cards you are dealt."

In a letter, Rollins wrote that his resignation was effective at 5 p.m. Monday.

"I sincerely thank all the citizens of this great county who have supported my tenure as sheriff since 2002," Rollins said. "I am eternally grateful for the experiences, which are truly some of the highlights of my 40-year career in law enforcement."

While there had been speculation that his departure was tied to an officer-involved shooting in November, where one of his deputies shot and killed an unarmed man, Rollins said that is not the case.

"We make decisions in 15 seconds, two seconds, 20 seconds, quickly in other words, and it is up to the judges and the lawmakers to determine over the next months or years if that was a correct decision," Rollins said.

Rollins supports the deputy, and said he hoped to be in office when the District Attorney made a decision on the case.

During Monday's Board of Commissioners meeting, the board voted unanimously to appoint Sheriff's Maj. Wayne Coats to replace Rollins, and he was sworn in Tuesday afternoon.

Coats will serve out Rollins’ term, which ends in 2018. It is a department in which his father also served.

“He was a deputy sheriff here,” Coats said. “Started the first narcotics unity and today I know he is shining down on me.”

Rollins said he plans to take the time off to relax.

“I can go get in my pond. Ride my jet skis, or I can go hunting for a while, or fishing for a while. I’ll do what my wife tells me for a little while.”