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New Wake Sheriff Expecting Smooth Transition

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Come December, Donnie Harrison will move into his new office. And, for the first time in almost a quarter of a century, Wake County will have a new sheriff.

After a 24-year reign by John Baker, Harrison knows he has some big shoes to fill. He's ready to take the first step.

"From what I'm hearing, a lot of people up there are ready to hear what I've got to say and work for me," Harrison said Sunday, a day after being certified as the winner of last Tuesday's election and a day after Baker said he would not order a recount.

The question on a lot of people's minds is: how many workers will Harrison keep in the department? Although he said he won't clean house, Harrison acknowledged that changes are inevitable.

But he promised to keep an open mind.

"I want to judge them by the time that I'm sworn in until they decide to leave, or if I don't need their services," he said. "But I want to make that decision."

Wake County deputies have said they're anxious about Harrison's arrival but will support any changes he makes.

Among Harrison's proposed changes are to start a safety team in schools, to expand the County's K-9 unit to fight the war on drugs and to find more beds for the Wake County jail inmates.

Harrison said the most important factor in whether or not he'll be successful will be acceptance from Baker supporters

"I know they're wondering what's going to happen," he said. "But I just want the opportunity to show them that I'm a professional, and they are professionals, and, by working together, we can make this a very good sheriff's department."

Harrison said that he will spend his first 120 days in office evaluating some of his goals and objectives for the department. He also plans to meet with each department separately to easy any anxiety.

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