Being a law enforcement officer is hard job, but someone has to do it.

And those who do that job appreciated it very much when they get help from state lawmakers in their efforts to fight crime and keep state residents safe.

That’s why, as the end of each long legislative session, the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association takes time to recognize a select group of state legislators through the Defender of Public Safety Award.

The award was created by the association “to recognize those legislators who are attentive to issues critical to protecting, preserving and enhancing the Office of Sheriff and issues affecting public safety in North Carolina.”

In early January, the 2023 Defender of Public Safety Award was presented to 32 members of the House of Representatives and 17 members of the Senate.

According to information from the NC Sheriff’s Association, this year’s recipients collectively represent over two-thirds of North Carolina’s 100 counties, including urban and rural and large and small counties in all sections of the state.

Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood, the chairman of the association’s Executive Committee, said the recipients should feel honored because they’re chosen very carefully.

“Every legislative session sees a heavy concentration of law enforcement and public safety related bills,” Blackwood stated in a press release. “This award is a small token of thanks to those legislators who went above and beyond to represent the legislative positions of importance to the sheriffs in North Carolina. Association leadership uses a list of carefully selected criteria when determining who qualifies for the award because we want this award to be meaningful. We want the public to know if your Representative or Senator is a Defender of Public Safety, he or she worked hard on legislation that will have a true positive impact on your sheriff’s office and the safety of your community.”

Representatives of the Association said that law enforcement officers in North Carolina are fortunate to have a General Assembly that supports law enforcement efforts.

Iredell County Sheriff and Association’s President Darren Campbell said the honor is reserved for those legislators “who, among other criteria, are primary sponsors of and advocates for bills the Association supports as a high priority and who work with Association staff to improve bills that the Association opposes.”

Each year the association calls special attention to legislation it considers key to its efforts, and Campbell said he’s hoping there are plenty more pro-law enforcement laws introduced and passed by legislators in 2024.

Those honored are listed below.

2023 Defender of Public Safety Award Recipients

North Carolina House of Representatives

Dean Arp, Kristin Baker, Jennifer Balkcom, John Bell, Brian Biggs, Allen Chesser, George Cleveland, Sarah Crawford, Kevin Crutchfield, Ted Davis, Jimmy Dixon, John Faircloth, Dudley Greene, Destin Hall, Kelly Hastings, Jake Johnson, Abe Jones, Brenden Jones, Keith Kidwell, Donny Lambeth, Charlie Miller, Tim Moore, Ben Moss, Erin Paré, Reece Pyrtle, Robert Reives, Jason Saine, Wayne Sasser, Mitchell Setzer, Carson Smith, Sarah Stevens and Shelly Willingham.

North Carolina Senate

Phil Berger, Dan Blue, Danny Britt, Warren Daniel, Ralph Hise, Brent Jackson, Todd Johnson, Michael Lazzara, Michael Lee, Tom McInnis, Tim Moffitt, Buck Newton, Paul Newton, Jim Perry, Bill Rabon, Norman Sanderson and Vickie Sawyer.