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I have spent my entire adult life serving my community.  I learned about the law, about right and wrong, about the challenges faced by so many that go unnoticed by the world.  I learned about myself, who I was and who I wanted to be.  More importantly, I learned about our citizens, who they are, what struggles they face, and how I can best serve each and every person in both the short term and the long term.


I am humbled and so honored that the citizens of Pitt County heard my vision as I campaigned and showed their trust in me by casting their votes in 2018 and 2022. Not everyone supported me and that is to be expected in any democratic election. But, regardless of who you are or whether you supported my candidacy or my opponents, please hear and understand this.  If you are a citizen of Pitt County, a visitor, or just passing through, I am proud to serve you and will do so honorably to the best of my ability.  I expect the same from every deputy and every staff member under my direction.  Every citizen deserves full and fair support from their local sheriff's office and I will not fail you in that regard.


I hope you find our website useful.  We are always open and interested in your thoughts and needs.  Reach out to us and let your voice be heard.  I have a vision for how to best serve our citizens' needs, but I remain open-minded and dedicated to hearing your thoughts so we can continue to evolve over time.  Thank you for your support.


In your service,


Sheriff Paula S. Dance

It is an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Pitt County.




Sheriff Paula S. Dance was first elected on November 6, 2018, and officially took office on December 3, 2018. Sheriff Dance is currently in her second term of office, which she began on December 5, 2022.  Sheriff Paula Dance is a veteran law enforcement officer, having served the public for over three decades.  


Sheriff Dance was born in Martin County, NC.  As a child she formed a strong understanding of the complexities of life in rural eastern North Carolina.  She developed strong morals, ethics, and a healthy ambition, as well as the work ethic that has fueled her career.  She says that her guideposts in life have been hard work, integrity, and treating every person with respect.  She has been blessed with three wonderful children and two grandchildren.


The Sheriff began her career in 1990 with the Martin County Sheriff's Office.  About four years later Pitt County Sheriff Billy Vandiford hired her as a deputy, not knowing that one day she would be elected to the office herself. Deputy Dance excelled quickly in Pitt County.  She learned the best practices of the profession in order to best serve the citizens.  After only four years on patrol, Dance received her first promotion and became the Sergeant of the innovative Domestic Violence Unit where she fought every day for victims and families in crisis.  


It wasn't long until she was promoted to Detective in the Major Crimes Division.  There she was tasked with solving the worst crimes in the county. In 2010, she was promoted to Lieutenant in the Major Crimes Division.  Again, in 2011, she was promoted to Captain, and served as the manager of all criminal and narcotics investigators and cases.  In 2013, Captain Dance made history when she was promoted to Major, which is third in command of the office.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Mount Olive.


In 2018, Major Dance decided to run for the office of Sheriff and won a decisive victory. When she placed her hand on the Bible on December 3, 2018, she became the first African-American female Sheriff in North Carolina history.  She also became the first African-American of either gender to hold the post in Pitt County.  She is in rare company as she is only the fifth African-American female Sheriff in the history of our nation.  


But don’t focus much time or energy on the fact that history was made.  Sheriff Dance doesn’t.  Race and gender did not keep her from the position, and it did not put her into the position.  Likewise, those issues do not impact how she serves the public.  Sheriff Dance is a working Sheriff.  When she puts on the uniform each morning and risks her life for our citizens, she is the elected Sheriff for every citizen and fights for what is right for each and every person, period.  Legal, moral, and ethical matters know no differences between the people involved.  She has often referred to the following focal points and incorporates them into her everyday service: Integrity, Commitment, Community, For Everyone.


The common law remains in “full force and effect” in North Carolina unless legislatively changed. Thus, the sheriff’s common law duties are still the law, and still duties of the sheriff, unless changed by statute. Duties such as the operation of the jail, law enforcement, service of process, and courts (bailiffs) existed at common law and have not been changed by statute in North Carolina. The General Statutes explicitly codify some of these duties and assume the existence of others.  Sheriffs are elected to 4 year terms of office.

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