Currituck’s new sheriff plans for youth, community involvement

By on June 18, 2018

Matthew Beickert was sworn in June 1. (Dee Langston)

Currituck County’s new chief law enforcement officer doesn’t have big plans to overhaul his department. But he does have plans.

The one he feels most passionate about is a new program for middle and high school students.

“I want us to focus on our youth,”  said Sheriff Matthew Beickert.

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Beickert announced the creation of a new Sheriff’s Youth Club program shortly after being sworn in June 1.

In addition to working with young people, Beickert intends expand the the office’s connection with all of Currituck County.

“We’re planning on working closely with our community and interacting more than ever before,” Beickert said. One way he plans to do this is through community meetings with the county’s neighborhoods, including working with existing groups, such as civic organizations and homeowners’ associations.

Although Beickert was sworn in only a few weeks ago, it’s not surprising that he’s getting to work and making new plans. After more than 20 years with the Currituck County Sheriff’s Department, the last seven as chief deputy, Beickert doesn’t appear to need much time to settle into the new position.

In fact, he’s already settled into the office of his former boss, former Sheriff Susan Johnson, who retired the same day Beickert took over. Beickert, a Republican, defeated Bob Douros in the May 8 GOP primary, winning 77 percent of the vote.

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Although he can’t claim to be a Currituck native, he has no memory of living anywhere else, he said during a recent interview. He moved to Currituck County while in kindergarten.

Beickert got his start in law enforcement in neighboring Camden County. After a year there as a deputy, a position opened at the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office.

“I applied, and came back to work in my neck of the woods,” he said. He started out as a deputy in 1997, and in 2000, was promoted to investigations. Three years later, he was promoted to lieutenant.

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In 2010, he was promoted to chief deputy, a position he held until being sworn in as sheriff. As Johnson’s second-in-command, he was the department’s head administrator, charged with overseeing the county’s jail, along with the department’s patrol and investigations units.

As sheriff, Beickert’s said his biggest challenge will be staying ahead of the trends that challenge all law enforcement agencies, such as the opioid epidemic. “This is where you have to stay current,” he said.

All of the sheriff’s department’s officers carry Naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdoses.

In addition, Currituck is in partnership with the U.S. Attorney General’s office as part of a federal task force led by the FBI, Beickert said, which brings more resources to the county to fight the opioid epidemic.

“This is an issue we’re prepared to fight,” Beickert said.

Another challenge will be staying ahead of scams, he said. There are a rising number of scams targeting county residents, which requires the department to stay on top of the latest technology.

On a lighter note, Beickert doesn’t view as a challenge the enforcement of the county’s new ordinances regarding traffic and parking on the four-wheel-drive area of the county’s beaches. The extra ordinances aren’t a particular strain, he said. The county’s budget for the next fiscal year includes two new officers to help with enforcement.

“Our responsibility is to make sure people drive in a safe manner,” which includes educating the public about the new ordinances, he said.

The county’s deputies will continue to mitigate crimes that involve domestic violence and theft, which are ongoing problems that plague almost every community.

The first session of Beickert’s Sheriff’s Youth Club is set to run from June 18 to 21, with a mentoring and leadership program for a small group of high school students. Other sessions for middle and high school students are planned for the summer as well.

Ultimately, Beickert would like to see the club develop into a year-long program that will include summer camps and after-school meetings during the school year.

The program’s overall goal is expose teens — to law enforcement issues, including laws that affect young people, career opportunities and Currituck’s history, communities and opportunities.

Although the club has an educational component, students will also take a wild horse tour, climb the YMCA’s new alpine tower and go fishing, along with other activities.

Applications and more information may be found on the Sheriff’s Youth Club section of Currituck County’s website.

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