Local News

Public-Safety Center Could Bear Former Sheriff's Name

Posted November 19, 2007 12:57 p.m. EST

— Wake County might give another honor to former sheriff John H. Baker, who served for more than two decades.

The county Board of Commissioners will consider renaming the Public Safety Center in downtown Raleigh after Baker. A resolution will be introduced at the board's meeting on Monday afternoon.

Baker passed away at the age of 72 on Oct. 31 after a lengthy illness. Wake County voters made him the first black sheriff in the state since Reconstruction when they elected him in 1978.

Baker held that office until 2002 when he lost to current-Sheriff Donnie Harrison by 2,200 votes.

The resolution praises Baker as "an innovator in law enforcement" for modernizing the sheriff's office, creating its first homicide unit and a voluntary firearm registration system.

It also cites Baker's "legacy of firsts," as the first black person to be appointed to the state Parole Board. Baker's father was also Raleigh's first black police officer.

Baker helped secure $56 million in funding for the public-safety center on Salisbury Street, which opened in 1991. It houses the sheriff's office, public safety department and county detention center.