Stand in the gap

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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WINDSOR – Shortly past high noon on Monday, Dec. 5, Tyrone M. Ruffin raised his right hand and affirmed an oath to protect and serve the citizens of Bertie County.

Tyrone Ruffin (right) poses for a photo with Eddie Buffaloe Jr., Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, who served as the guest speaker at the swearing-in ceremony. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

In doing so, Ruffin accepted a leadership position within a challenging profession that comes with more than a badge on his chest, a weapon on his hip, and books full of state and local laws. He’ll have to rely on the strong faith, which he doesn’t mind sharing, in his Lord and Savior to keep a promise to equally serve all citizens.

Ruffin, a native of Murfreesboro who currently lives in Aulander, ran unopposed in November’s General Election. He replaces longtime Bertie Sheriff John Holley who chose not to seek another term in office.

The new Sheriff was sworn in at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church.

Cy Grant, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, performed the honor of swearing in the new Sheriff. Judge Grant also swore in all the Bertie County Sheriff’s deputies and investigators.

Ruffin, who at times became emotional and fought back the tears, thanked the standing room only crowd that filled the church sanctuary for “showing up and showing out.”

“Wow, thank you so much,” he said. “This is a special day for Bertie County and for our Sheriff’s Office. It’s also a special day for family.”

He noted that eight of his sisters and brothers were in attendance, recalling the time they all lived in a singlewide trailer in Murfreesboro.

“That’s what brought us close together,” Ruffin stressed. “The good thing is that anytime I call, they are there for me.”

Ruffin acknowledged his four children, remembering all the church-related functions they attended together.

He also singled out other members of his family, including his mother and father.

His “family” also includes law enforcement personnel and other first responders, who Ruffin recognized.

“To each one of you here today, to include my citizens of Bertie County, thank you so much,” Ruffin said. “And thank you to the brave men and women of the Bertie Sheriff’s Office. I look forward to working together with you. We look forward to serving the citizens of Bertie County with professionalism, honesty, and integrity. We will do a great job for this county.”

Northampton County native Eddie Buffaloe Jr., Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, served as the guest speaker.

“Congratulations to Sheriff Ruffin,” Buffaloe remarked. “I met him several years ago when I was his Basic Law Enforcement Training instructor. He was a songbird. His punishment when he didn’t do things well was that he had to sing. He sung Gospel music.”

To the law enforcement personnel present, representing multiple agencies from local, regional, and state departments, Buffaloe expressed his upmost respect for the jobs they tackle day in and day out.

“This job in law enforcement is tough. I’m grateful for your dedication and your sacrifice…all the men and women in law enforcement across this state who protect and serve 10.5 million people in North Carolina,” Buffaloe noted.

He reminded Ruffin and others in the law enforcement profession that their number one priority is to stand in the gap.

“Sheriff, you and your deputies took an oath and you affirmed to that oath to stand in the gap….to stand between order and chaos, just as Jesus did 2,000 years ago when he was between two thieves,” Buffaloe said. “Matthew 5 (verse 9) says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.’ God sent his son to stand in the gap and he placed all power in his son’s hands, so remember that it matters whose hands you put things in.”

Pictured here is just a small group of Bertie County Sheriff’s deputies and investigators who were sworn in on Monday at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Buffaloe also noted that God will not send anyone anywhere without first preparing them for the journey.

“Bertie County, you have placed in Tyrone’s hands as the Sheriff to stand in the gap,” he stated. “Sheriff, in your hands you are to serve with empathy, compassion, grace, peace, and professionalism to all mankind, just as Jesus did. Sheriff, you will not only represent Bertie County, but also represent God.

“The gap you must stand in is extremely wide, extremely deep, and it can be extremely shallow,” Buffaloe added. “Regardless of the size of the gap, you must always be ready. When God called upon his son to save us, Jesus didn’t have to get ready, he was already ready. So, if you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready. Deputies, you have to be ready when you get the call. I pray that God will lead you and guide you every day and that he will send his anointing. Sheriff, you have placed your hands in the air to affirm your oath. Now that we’ve placed the power in your hands, I challenge you to stay ready so you won’t have to get ready.”

Also making remarks at Monday’s event were John Trent, chairman of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners, and Valerie Asbell, local District Attorney.

“We welcome our new Sheriff. We welcome you, the citizens of Bertie County, to support this man and moving this organization forward,” Trent said. “We’re all here because we love to justify our democracy. We’re here to support this man and his department to protect and serve our county.”

Asbell offered congratulations to the newly sworn Sheriff, saying that she has personally known Ruffin since he first joined the law enforcement ranks years ago as an Ahoskie Police Officer.

“Tyrone has always been a people person,” Asbell noted. “One of the things I believe is that good leaders have to be good followers. And another thing I believe is that a good leader has to serve.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” Asbell continued. “And he just took a great responsibility when he stood here (taking the oath of office). Having the highest responsibility in Bertie County will come a lot of highs and will come with some lows. But you have a group of people inside and outside this church that will stand behind you and hold you up when you need to be held up.”

Asbell praised the efforts of all law enforcement officers.

“You choose every single day to get up, put on a badge, put on a gun, and go out to serve and protect,” she stressed. “Every one of you will lay your life down for me every single day. I appreciate that. We don’t say that enough.

“Tyrone, you can’t run the Sheriff’s Office by yourself,” Asbell added. “All these people here (Bertie deputies, detectives, and administrative staff, who were seated on the front pews of the church) are your boots on the ground. I congratulate you all for working for this servant [Ruffin] who will serve the people.”

Asbell quoted a verse from the Bible – Isaiah, Chapter 6 – “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

“Tyrone, you said, ‘here I am, send me’,” Asbell remarked. “You officers, you said ‘here I am, send me.’ Thank you, I appreciate you and may God continue to bless you and protect you. ‘Mighty Ty’ I’m so proud of you.”

Pastor David Moore of Indian Woods Baptist Church served as the Master of Ceremony. Pastor David Walther of Sandy Run Baptist Church shared biblical scripture.

Wesley Dudley, chairman of the Bertie County Democratic Party, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Charles Smith sang the National Anthem.

Bishop Thomas E. Lee of Greater Wynns Grove Baptist Church, and Pastor Webb Hoggard of Askewville Bethel Assembly, respectively gave the opening and closing prayers.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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