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Elks recognized in retirement ceremony

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Sheriff-elect Paula Dance, right, presents Sheriff Neil Elks with his service weapon during Elks' retirement reception at Pitt County Courthouse on Nov. 20, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

As a child, Neil Elks was fascinated with law enforcement. He would listen to the chatter on a CB radio and speak back to it in his sleep.

Instead of baseball caps and football helmets that were worn by boys his age, Elks opted for a special sheriff’s hat.  

After a law enforcement career that spanned 39 years, Elks was honored in a retirement ceremony at The Pitt County Courthouse, having served two terms at the helm of the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office. 

He was recognized by Pitt County Manager Scott Elliot and Sheriff-elect Paula Stokes Dance presented her former lieutenant with his badge and gun. 

“When I first came to Pitt County, Sheriff Elks was my lieutenant and I came in as a rookie deputy from little old Martin County … and now look at me,” Dance said.   

“During that time, Lt. Elks presented me with my badge and gun so I am honored today to be the one to stand here and in return present him his gun and badge,” she said.  

A video highlighting Elks’ journey to becoming sheriff was shown during the ceremony, as attendees smiled and fought back tears.

Elks thanked all those in attendance for their support and faith in his leadership.      

“It’s a great honor to stand here before you guys and I look around and see several of my fellow sheriffs,” Elks said. “I want to thank my wife for standing by my side.  I want to thank my family.  These are the ones who prayed me through, in the beginning, to make the decision whether to run for sheriff or not.   

“Many of the other ones I see in the room are the ones I went to and asked, what do you think?” he said. “A lot of you guys believed in me and got behind me and supported me.”

Elks discussed how taxing the job of sheriff is and how he is looking forward to unplugging and spending time with his family.  

“I took this job very seriously. It’s a 24-hour a day job, seven days a week where people are calling you,” he said. “I get more calls on my personal cellphone and messages on Facebook than I ever do at the sheriff’s office.”

Everybody calls the sheriff, Elks said.

“People will say, ‘He’s my friend and I know him.’  I’m probably going to throw that phone in the Tar River,” Elks joked. 

Elks’ wife Connie also spoke, and made it a point to emphasize how much her husband loved the citizens of Pitt County.  

“Your support says a lot. He has done nothing but truly, truly, love you,” Connie Elks said. “He has not been perfect and if you look for perfection, you will find it nowhere but Jesus Christ. But he has tried his hardest and there’s been some that have left the sheriff’s office not happy and they’ve criticized him and continue to criticize. 

“Your sheriff has been a great husband and the best sheriff ever,” Connie Elks said.

She said her husband reduced crime and worked hard to be a good husband at home.  

“Even though he’s a sheriff who has reduced crime every year and certainly to the lowest point of decades, he still had many backseat critics.” Connie Elks said. “It made me very angry but it didn’t bother him a whole lot. So he had prayed for me a lot. 

“He was my comforter when hateful messages would come in through social networks and when few criminals sought to kill us, I wasn't as scared of them as I was of some of the social media stuff that came through,” she said.

She added that becoming sheriff of Pitt County was a dream that Neil had for quite some time and that the Elks family prayed and stood behind her husband.   

“We got together as a family and we prayed and we agreed we would support him, never knowing how truly hard it would be,” Connie Elks said. “How grateful I was that so many gave this little country boy with not a great deal of education but a whole lot of wisdom, their vote of confidence to allow him to live out his dream.”

Several in attendance stood up and spoke about how Elks was a sheriff for everyone.

The ceremony was followed by a reception.  

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566.  Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR

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