01/30/09 — Sheriff takes look at security at inauguration

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Sheriff takes look at security at inauguration

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 30, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders took along a cadre of officers to Washington to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama, but they were doing more than sight-seeing, the sheriff said.

They were researching the kind of security required to handle similar high- profile events, Winders said.

"As we all know, President Bush came to Goldsboro," Winders said, referring to a visit by the senior Bush to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base during the Persian Gulf War.

"We know that there's a very good possibility he (Obama) will ... come this way," Winders said.

Winders said he had a few good reasons to think Obama might visit Goldsboro --Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, for instance. Another is the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, the president of the state's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Winders said.

After taking in the inauguration, which set attendance records, Winders said he asked himself a few questions as a law enforcement officer.

"If President Obama were to come here, what would you expect? You could expect probably three times the crowd," Winders said, prompting nods from members of his staff who also attended the inauguration.

Members of Winders' staff, including Capt. F.S. Greenfield, Lt. Carter Hicks, Sgt. Rudolph Dupree, Detective Sgt. M.L. Reid, Detective Sgt. Ron Baker, Sgt. Warren Baker, Sgt. Larry Wynn, Sgt. Larry Hardy, Betty Scott and Deputy Betty Lance attended.

Commissioner J.D. Evans also went with the group, the sheriff said.

"It was a special event that we wanted to go to," Winders said. "I think it was a historical event for many of our officers here."

The group made trips to local stores to keep warm, buying things like foot warmers and fleece to brave the cold weather, they said.

Once there, they found warmness of a different sort, Baker said.

"It was open arms. They were giving out different material to keep warm with," the detective said. "We felt like we were welcomed there."

Winders said he also sought out Sen. Kay Hagan, D-Greensboro, but said he couldn't reach her through the crowds.

"Our intention was to get to the senator, and talk to her about some issues, but she was impossible to get to," the sheriff said. "I will make another attempt to see her on those issues, soon."

Hicks said the election of Obama is a milestone that sets new goals for young, black Americans.

"They make a statement about 'shock and awe,' Obama seemed to just bring that kind of atmosphere," the lieutenant said. "As an African American male, I never thought I would experience anything even coming close to that. It was just overwhelming for me."

"The bar has been set. All the way to the top," Hicks added.

But Baker said that he felt pride that transcended race.

"Everybody was like, "What's up? Let's do this, this is our moment. It was ... I felt special to be an American that day. That's a fact," Baker said.