Pat McCrory on Officers Sean Clark & Jeff Shelton’s Legacy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – “For the first time, a pretty outgoing guy was afraid that I wouldn’t make it through the speech. That’s how emotional it was,” says now former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

A sea of blue, a wave of memories. 10 years ago, then-Mayor McCrory joined the rest of Charlotte to pay respects to Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton in April 2007. When McCrory sat down with me to talk about the ten year anniversary of their deaths, the way he answered this question has stuck with me, and maybe it will you, too, because of what it meant then, and especially, because of what it means now.

I asked him: “Now, ten years later, are you able to pull the curtain back and share any of the moments that you and city council had behind the scenes, in terms of talking about how to bring the community back together, how to restore confidence within the police department, within the community, that we could move forward from this?” McCrory told me, “You know what, was actually interesting, the politicians didn’t need to bring the community back together. As Mayor, I could have said anything during the eulogy. It would have made no difference. The community was coming together from within.”

McCrory says he displayed pictures of Sean and Jeff in his office during his four years as Governor. He says the lasting legacy of the men, who put community policing into practice every day, helped guide some of his public safety decisions while in office.

I asked him, “What would you say to new CMPD recruits about Sean and Jeff in particular, and police work in general, as we approach the ten year anniversary?” He said, “Use Shelton and Clark as a role model of how it’s done and also use them as a role model that you can never, it’s a daily sacrifice, in which their families don’t know if you’re gonna come home. And it’s a decision to clearly understand and appreciate and we need to thank the police officers every day for making that commitment. And not only thank the police officers, but thank the families who say goodbye to their husbands or wives who are putting on the blue uniform and say thank you.”