A six-and-a-half-minute phone conversation between two Columbus County Sheriff’s Department members created a firestorm this fall in an otherwise tranquil, rural area.
In February 2019, Jody Greene, the county’s sheriff, disparaged his Black employees in a phone call with police Capt. Jason Soles. He called them “Black bastards” and said he would “clean house” of them, and no one could stop him— because he was “still the motherfucking sheriff.”
The recorded call was leaked to a local television station in September. Soles, a Democrat, ended up running against Greene this year.
The fallout led to Greene resigning from the state sheriff’s association, the county district attorney filing for his removal from office, and Greene eventually resigning from his position — but he still was on this year’s ballot.
And while his recorded remarks sparked local outrage, his fellow Republicans supported him, and he quickly won re-election to the office he had just resigned from.
Greene defeated Soles with 54% of the votes, according to unofficial results from the county. Greene will be formally sworn in on Dec. 5. However, County District Attorney Jon David said he would file another official court petition and order for Greene’s removal.
Greene was known to other law enforcement officials throughout the state, including many Black sheriffs — and he ultimately became a symbol for much deeper problems in North Carolina law enforcement. In 2018, Greene defeated Lewis Hatcher for sheriff of Columbus County. Hatcher was one of the Black law enforcement officers Greene referenced in the phone call during his racist tirade.
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