Pender & Columbus
Carson Smith was born in 1967 at New Hanover Hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina. He grew up and has lived in Pender County most of his life. His parents and grandparents lived in Hampstead and generations before them all lived in coastal North Carolina. Carson attended Topsail Schools where he played football and worked summers in the family seafood business. At that time, he also began working in many different aspects of public safety including Pender East EMS, Hampstead Volunteer Fire Department, and Scott's Hill Fire Department.
While a member of Hampstead Fire Department, Carson was a part of the team who fought one of the biggest fires in state history that burned in Holly Shelter during the spring of 1986. During that experience, Carson spent most of his time at the command post working in the operations branch where resources were assigned and deployed. He also served as Chief of Pender East EMS until 1991. While attending UNC-W, Carson worked as a dispatcher with the Pender County Sheriff's Office under Sheriff George Wright and Sheriff Mike Harvell.
In 1987 Carson became a sworn deputy in Pender County and completed his Basic Law Enforcement Training class at Cape Fear Community College with the highest academic average and highest firearm qualification scores. He worked in the patrol division until 1989 when he took a position as a police officer with the Town of Topsail Beach under Chief Rickey Smith.
In 1991 Carson was accepted into the North Carolina Highway Patrol and attended the 87th Basic School. He finished the six-month school 3rd in academics, 2nd in firearm qualification and 1st in driving. He was assigned to Durham County and worked there until he returned home to Pender County to accept a job he had long wanted as Emergency Management Coordinator.
Shortly after taking that position, the coast of North Carolina began to experience higher than normal hurricane activity, and Carson led the county’s emergency effort through five Presidential Disaster Declarations: Bertha '96, Fran '96, Bonnie '98, Dennis '99, and Floyd '99.
In 1996, Carson won the General Edward Foster Griffin Award as the Emergency Management Coordinator of the year in North Carolina. He also worked at disaster scenes outside of Pender County including leading a North Carolina firefighter contingent in Florida during the 1998 wildfire breakout.
In 2002, Carson ran for Sheriff, was elected, and was sworn in on December 2, 2002, as the 19th Sheriff of Pender County. He became active in the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association and was elected as a vice-president in 2014. In 2017 he became the first Pender County Sheriff to serve as President of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. Carson has just finished that term and is currently the Chairman of the Association’s Executive Committee.
In 2014, he was appointed, by Governor Pat McCrory, as a Trustee on the NC Local Government Employees’ Retirement System Board and continued to serve in that capacity.