Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office History

The history of Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office can be traced as far back as 1786.  Although historical data is somewhat difficult to obtain, it appears that the Sheriff’s Office may have occupied a space in the old County Courthouse.  It also appears that the original County Jail may have been located in a small annex next to the courthouse, in what is now occupied by the Department of Juvenile Justice.  The earliest available judicial proceedings involving the Sheriff’s Office were recorded in 1868.  Prior to that, records are somewhat scarce and were probably destroyed during the Civil War.  This is when Union forces blew up naval supplies in the area and caused a fire that swept through the town of Washington.  As a result, historical data was destroyed as well as many historical buildings.

The Sheriff of Beaufort County has been called “Sheriff” or “High Sheriff” since 1868, when Sheriff L. F. Carrow occupied the office. Since then, court records indicate there have been ten Sheriffs elected to the office, including Sheriff Ernie Coleman.

Beaufort County has observed significant changes in policing styles and law enforcement services over the past few decades.  To remain proactive, the agency maintains a full service law enforcement agency that is divided into Operations and Support Services, six divisions, and a variety of organizational components.  The divisions include Patrol, Administration, Investigations, Telecommunications, Narcotics and Detention.