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Security cameras scan and zoom nearly every angle, and electronic keys open cell doors.

Norfolk’s new $123 million courthouse is state-of-the art, but an excellent Sheriff’s Office team made it even better, under the leadership of Major Larry Carter.

To understand why, you’ve got to look back at Carter’s past.

“Everyone said I would be in jail; I would never amount to anything,” he said.

As a child, Carter was overweight, shy, and insecure. He grew up in an abusive environment.

“I could hardly read and write. I couldn’t concentrate at school because when I got home I would get beat, called names,” he recalled.

But deep down, Carter knew he could do better. His hope and desire to escape his past led him to enlist in the United States Marine Corps.

“The Marine Corps was the basic school of life; what you set your mind to, you can accomplish. You’re not going to fail. You’re not going to quit,” he said.

With that mantra, Carter conquered physical challenges in boot camp, and he stretched his mind as well, staying up late at night teaching himself to read so he could rise up in rank.

Soon enough, Carter’s superiors saw something in him that he didn’t yet see in himself; Carter was a leader. “I was nominated for drill instructor school. There were 167 candidates, only 19 of us graduated,” he said.

Carter’s confidence kept on growing, and he decided to leave the Marines to join the Norfolk Police Department. He was put in charge of starting the city’s first, true SWAT team. “I was putting people through hell; the hours were very long, and most of these people weren’t volunteers,” he said.

After two months of intensive training, Norfolk’s newly formed SWAT team graduated. On that very same night, they were put to the test.

It was April 14th, 1984 when the horrifying call came in; a suspect shot and killed a police officer and a pregnant woman.

It was the kind of situation SWAT teams are made for, and coincidentally, Norfolk Police now had a team to respond.

The heavily armed suspect had barricaded himself inside a home. After seven hours of negotiations and creating diversions, the SWAT team took down the suspect.

The story gained national attention, and the following year, the Marine Corps recognized two agencies to train SWAT officers nationwide: Los Angeles Police on the West Coast, and Norfolk Police on the East Coast.

After serving nearly 30 years on the police force, Carter joined the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office. In 2015, he oversaw creating a different sort of team: a group to open the City’s new courthouse.

“It was like planning a SWAT school times five,” Carter said.

That’s because the courthouse crew had to juggle extensive training on running all aspects of the new facility, while still operating the old courthouse until opening day.

“They reminded me of that first SWAT team in many ways,” Carter said.

And like that last team, this group also found surprises. By studying blueprints, they noticed some of the doors were lacking the proper security alarms and locks. Even worse, it was easy for guests to sneak past the metal detectors at the front entrance.

Those problems were all fixed before any threats could ever arise.

Carter’s habit of teaching to “expect the unexpected” made Norfolk’s courthouse even stronger, but his humility laid the foundation.

“I couldn’t have accomplished this on my own. It was all about having a great team,” Carter stressed.

An old pipe burst inside the Norfolk City Jail last night causing a serious flood, with water coming up nearly seven feet in the jail basement.

Crews worked all night to pump out the water, and are working now to replace the electronics that control the water pumps into the new courthouse. Sheriff McCabe is waiting for maintenance crews to brief him on all the damage as soon as things dry out.

If the water went up another two inches, we would have lost power in the jail. This means our elevators would not work, so we would have trouble moving nearly 1,300 inmates for meals and taking them to court appearances.

Additionally, our automatic locking system wouldn’t work, so we would have to use keys for the more than 300 doors inside the jail. Another problem would be booking inmates into jail by hand instead of the computer system.

The Norfolk City Jail is 53 years old, with an 18-year-old addition.

Recently, Sheriff McCabe alerted city officials that the jail needs about $2.5 million for a new master control system, a half-million-dollar update to its fire alarm system, and about a $200,000 kitchen floor replacement. These upgrades are needed in order for the jail to pass state Department of Corrections inspections.

Sheriff McCabe will recommend that city official hire a consultant to look at the total infrastructure of the jail, primarily plumbing in order to sustain the building for the future.

When a car caught on fire at a Norfolk gas station, Deputy Erica Williams heard cries for help.

“I’m hearing the car is on fire. I looked at pump number one, and I saw the fire. I couldn’t let it burn,” Williams said.

 She saw the driver escape the white Subaru, but flames were still shooting up from underneath the vehicle dangerously close to a gas pump.

 “I didn’t want the car to blow up,” Williams recalled.

She knew a larger explosion could potentially threaten lives at the nearby McDonalds and apartments behind the Shell Gas Station at 418 St. Paul’s Blvd. 

“I was really, really scared. I panicked,” cashier Kiara Edwards recalls. She came running out with a fire extinguisher. “I could not pull the pin out, my hands were sweating,” she said.

 Deputy Williams took charge, calmly removing the pin, and extinguishing the fire.

 “She saved my life, and the lives of others,” Edwards said.

 If it weren’t for Edwards, you wouldn’t be reading this story. She wrote to the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office to tell us about Deputy Williams’s actions.

 “She was risking her own life. I felt like if she wasn’t there, I wouldn’t know what would have happened,” Edwards said.

 It was just by chance that Deputy Williams was working a part time security job at the gas station that night. She was filling in for another worker who couldn’t make it.

 So after her normal eight hour shift at the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office, she started her second job. She never imagined it would be so chaotic, but she was able to handle the challenge. 

 “It was the skills I learned at the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office on how to react. Your training just kicks in and you just do what you have to do,” Deputy Williams remarked.

 As a single mother of two teenage boys, she has mastered managing many things at a time.  “I love what I do. When you leave your job, you just want to go home to your family. I kept thinking put the fire out, and get home to my kids,” Deputy Williams said.

Williams was honored by WTKR-TV for “Taking Action, and Getting Results,” and her story was aired on 13News Now.

The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office has debuted a new website, which includes a new “Inmate Lookup” tool. 

You can find incarceration information and mug shots for all inmates currently housed in the Norfolk City Jail in this searchable database.

“This allows anyone to find out if a friend or family member is in jail, their charges, bond information, next court date, and potential release date. It’s also a great tool for Bondsmen and Attorneys to see information regarding their clients,” Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Information Technology Director Tim Baker said.

The technology update also allows other Law Enforcement agencies to quickly find information on an inmate.  Previously, officers relied on calling the jail, and asking for a printed roster for new inmates.

In 2012, Sheriff Bob McCabe assembled a new IT unit led by Director Tim Baker. Since that time the team has overseen the transfer of  IT operations from the City of Norfolk to the Sheriff’s office which resulted in a savings of $500,000.  

“I’ve talked about having a new website with an inmate look up tool for at least 12 years. Now that we have our own standalone server system we are able to make these types of technological advances,” Sheriff Bob McCabe said.

Currently, the IT unit is working to implement wireless throughout the entire Norfolk City Jail to support a future wireless handheld project. The change will allow deputies to take jail counts electronically and snap pictures to document problems instantly, saving them time to focus on public safety. 

The Norfolk Sheriff’s office is alerting the public about a phone scam where men are impersonating deputies in order to make money. We sent out this warning February 23, 2015, but we’re sending it again as we keep receiving more reports of this scam.

Several Norfolk residents have reported they received phone calls from two men claiming to be deputies. The caller told the victims that they missed jury duty and the fake deputies demanded money to dismiss the warrant.

The impersonators went on to threaten the victims, saying they would arrest them if  they don’t pay the fine right away. Norfolk police are now investigating these reports.

The two even men made up fake names for Norfolk judges, and provided a number for victims to call with questions. The reported phone calls are not targeting a specific neighborhood, but are spread throughout the city.

Lt. Col. Chris Walz stresses you shouldn’t pay for things over the phone, and if you receive one of these fraudulent calls to report it.

Inmate Justin Monk shoveled snow for at least eight hours for the City of Norfolk, but he was glad to do it.

“It’s very beneficial to me,” Monk said.

That’s because non-violent offenders, like Monk, are getting credit for their hard work. For each hour they’re out shoveling, they receive $7.25 credit toward their court fines.

The mutually beneficial program is called the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office workforce program. For nearly 20 years now, non-violent inmates have been given the opportunity to get out of the jail to work. Deputies are always supervising the inmates to ensure the safety of the public. After a hard day’s work, the inmates return to jail at night, many of them serving time for traffic charges, child support or drug possession.

One of the best parts is the labor comes at no cost to taxpayers. In a typical year, Sheriff Bob McCabe explained, inmates work nearly 200,000 hours, saving the city about $2 million doing things like cleaning up at Scope, doing yard work and maintenance at city parks, roads, schools, cemeteries, the airport gateway, Nauticus, Half Moone Cruise Terminal and The Waterside.

“If the inmates impress us, we will be able to bring an employer in and say hire this guy. We can show employers that this inmate is nonviolent and will be an asset to your company. Hopefully he won’t come back to our facility,” workforce director Mike O’Toole said.

As for Monk, his hard work shoveling snow already did pay off.

“I paid off all my court fines in the workforce program, and now I’m able to get my driver’s license too,” he said.

His story was featured on 13NewsNow and WTKR, and a day later, a local business owner hired him.

Monk moved up from the “inmate workforce” program to the “work release” program. Now he works at a local business by day, and he spends night in jail. Once he’s out, he will already have a job.

NSO has built relationships with nearly 200 local businesses. If deputies see inmates with a good work ethic, they’ll recommend them for a real job. It’s one way Sheriff Bob McCabe works to have inmates successfully reenter society, and not end up staying back in jail on the taxpayer’s dime.

Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe is leading a charge to hire more veterans. His office is one of few in Hampton Roads to join Governor Terry McAuliffe’s new “Virginia Values Veterans program.”

Employers pledge to hire and keep a certain number of veterans as staff. So far, about 170 out of nearly 500 Norfolk Sheriff’s office employees are veterans. “The Sheriff being a veteran himself, is big on hiring veterans. A company can benefit from veterans because they are disciplined and used to structure,” Human Resources Director Lt. Darrell Freeman said.

Sheriff McCabe submitted a letter to Gov. McAuliffe and a committee approved his application to join the V3. This means that NSO is listed as a “veteran friendly” employer at career fairs across the commonwealth. Sheriff McCabe took the effort one step further, getting VA approval for the On-the-job-training apprenticeship program. His office went through an extensive process to develop a one-year curriculum for law enforcement training. This means veterans can use one year of their G.I. Bill while working at NSO, adding anywhere from $1,200 in additional pay to each month’s check.

“It was great to have that option,” Cpl. Eric Maldonado said. 

Maldonado earned an extra $18,000 in his first year working at NSO by using his G.I Bill pay. He was already close to earning his bachelor’s degree, so it was a good fit for him. “Many guys just want the money, but later on they might want to go to school. You have to make sure you’re making the right decision.” Maldonado spent three years active duty Army before he joined NSO in 2011. He says the Sheriff’s office was an easy transition for him. “You have a similar rank structure, we operate a lot like the military,” he said.

One area of similarity is basic training. That’s why Maldonado is a natural as our training academy instructor. We are always looking for great candidates to join our team.

If you know anyone interested in a career with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office contact: Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Personnel Division 140 East Street Norfolk, VA 23510 (757) 441-2923

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