A graduate of the University of Mount Olive is the governor’s choice for North Carolina’s next public safety secretary.

Eddie Buffaloe Jr., Elizabeth City’s public safety director and interim city manager, will become a member of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Cabinet as secretary of the Department of Public Safety. The governor announced Buffaloe’s appointment Sept. 28.

Buffaloe graduated from the University of Mount Olive in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration.

Buffaloe also has a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Grand Canyon University and numerous law enforcement and public safety certifications, the governor’s office said in a news release.

He currently serves as an adjunct faculty professor in the criminal justice departments at North Carolina Wesleyan College and College of the Albemarle.

He succeeds Erik Hooks, who was nominated in July by President Joe Biden to become deputy administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. An interim secretary was in place for the past two months.

Buffaloe is the current president of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police. The former National Guard member also served in several law enforcement agencies in North Carolina, including what was previously the Department of Correction.

Buffaloe’s “experience, vision, leadership, management skills and strong law enforcement credentials make him ready for this critically important role, and I’m grateful he is willing to take it on,” Cooper said in the news release. “As an officer, he has walked the beat on our streets and in our prisons, and as a chief of police his leadership has shown that he understands the importance of building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Buffaloe had a high-profile role in Elizabeth City while his officers responded to protests this past spring after the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies. Elizabeth City is the Pasquotank County seat.

“I am humbled by the opportunity given to me by Governor Cooper,” Buffaloe said in the news release. “As a former correctional officer, N.C. Guardsman and current law enforcement executive, I am excited to rejoin the DPS correctional staff, members of the National Guard family and other stakeholders, along with our state law enforcement agencies, in order to work and collaborate with our local law enforcement partners across the state to keep North Carolina safe.”

Agencies within the Department of Public Safety include the State Highway Patrol and the State Bureau of Investigation.

Like other gubernatorial Cabinet secretaries, Buffaloe will be subject to state Senate confirmation to keep the job permanently.