Danny Rogers, the first black sheriff of Guilford County — among six others across the state — took the oath office in a crowded courtroom in High Point on Monday. Administering the oath was Henry Frye Jr., the state’s first African American to serve as justice and chief justice on the state Supreme Court.
“Today is the day we officially begin a new chapter within the sheriff’s department in Guilford County,” said County Commissioner J. Carlvena Foster, like Rogers a Democrat from High Point. “It is a day that all people across this great county should be bigger than our differences, regardless of historical rights and wrongs, and work together for the good of all citizens.”
Alan Branson, the Republican chairman of the county commission, attended the swearing-in ceremony, but did not make remarks.
“It is significant in this county that he is the first African-American to be elected to this position, but it is more important that he was elected on his campaign promise to bring a positive change,” Foster said.
Addressing judges, prosecutors, elected officials, law enforcement, family and a scrum of media personnel reminiscent of a US Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Frye said, “To see this great audience, and to know that we have a good election and that we live in a good country, we live in a good state county. Now, we’re not perfect. Everybody that’s perfect, I’d like to see you raise your hand.”
Frye also administered the oath of office to Edward Melvin, who was sworn in as the chief deputy, and Steve Parr, as third in command. Parr unsuccessfully challenged incumbent BJ Barnes in the Republican primary.
Afterwards, Rogers administered an office code of conduct to Catherine Netter, who worked on Rogers’ campaign and will serve as his executive administrative officer.
Tom Jarrell, the chief district court judge for Guilford County, said he’s known Rogers for almost four decades. The two men graduated from high school a year apart. Jarrell said Rogers he was newly-minted assistant district attorney when Rogers was employed by the High Point Police Department.
“I was impressed with Danny’s people skills,” Jarrell said. “In fact, he’s the first law enforcement officer that I ever did a ride-along with. We’re talking about 1989 or so. And I’ve been hooked on that sort of thing ever since. I get in the car and I’m like, ‘Hey man, turn on the siren. Let’s roll! I think there’s some emergency traffic down the road. We gotta go.’ It’s kind of your fault, Danny.”
Jarrell said Rogers holds a unique opportunity as the county’s first black sheriff.
“Times are challenging now for law enforcement,” Jarrell said. “There are those in our community who, for one reason or another, don’t feel that they have the benefit of that service and protection. You now have the opportunity to give all of us — every citizen of Guilford County — that safety feeling, that sense of public service.
“We in the court system and in the community, we welcome you and congratulate you on achieving this position,” Jarrell continued. “And my commitment to you is that we will work with you in addressing these and many other challenges that our county will face.”
Jarrell said residents should know that Rogers loves people.
“Danny Rogers is in this job because of his love for people and the fact that he is a humanitarian,” the chief judge said. “He’ll be a wonderful role model for our community. He’ll be the kind of person that’s approachable. He’s also an excellent communicator. He’s the kind of person that will listen, because really, isn’t that what communication’s all about?”