Fresh out of high school and attending SCC, he took a part-time job at the local Pepsi-Cola plant to take care of his new and growing family. When a full-time position became available at the plant, Burris, like so many others, took the job, placing his educational journey on the back burner.
In 2000, he found work at the NC Department of Corrections (NCDOC). Burris was assigned to the Albemarle Correctional Institution as a Correctional Officer in the dorms, then later reassigned to the Canteen. During this time he passed the NCDOC Sergeant’s exam and was ready for his next challenge.
In 2003, Burris began working as a Detention Officer at the Stanly County Jail. Still supervising inmates, Burris enrolled in SCC’s BLET and Criminal Justice degree programs, all while maintaining his full-time job at the jail on rotating shifts. With determination and hard work, he finished his BLET training and passed the state exam. “I was very fortunate to have the awesome support from my wife, Lynn, and three children,” he explained. Burris was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff and assigned to the Courthouse as a Bailiff. He continued his educational journey, earning his Criminal Justice degree in 2004, nearly eight years after he left SCC to go into the workforce. During his tenure at the Sheriff’s Office, Burris was promoted to the Patrol Division, then to Detective, and later to Detective Sergeant.
In 2007, Burris found opportunities with the Oakboro Police Department, where he started out on patrol and later was promoted to Sergeant, then finally to Administrative Lieutenant, a position that involved many department duties and functions.
Education and training is a vital part of any law enforcement position and Burris sought out every opportunity when he could. Over the next several years, he completed trainings and earned certifications in: NC General Instructor, Taser Instructor, Field Training Officer, Advanced Field Training Officer, First Line Supervision training, Community Relations and Mediation, Leadership-Mid-Management training, Police Law Institute, Honor Guard, SWAT, RADAR, Standard Field Sobriety training, Alcohol Screening Device training, Crime Scene Investigation, Crime Scene Reconstruction, Crime Scene Photography, Crime Scene Fingerprinting, Blood Stain Pattern Recognition, Buried Body Recovery and Street Drug Investigations.
In November 2014, nearly twenty-five years after his veneration with law enforcement began, George T. Burris was elected as Sheriff by the citizens of Stanly County. Standing by his side and supporting his career were his wife, children, family, friends and co-workers. “It is truly an honor to serve the citizens of Stanly County. All this was made possible through hard work, determination and believing in achieving a goal that began many years ago while sitting in a classroom at Stanly Community College studying Criminal Justice,” Burris said.
When asked what he finds most challenging about being the Sheriff, he noted, “Oftentimes my deputies will beat themselves up over that one case they lost; they feel like they have let people down—even though they gave it their all.” When asked what he finds most rewarding, he confessed, “Helping our citizens have a better life. When I see the relief in a victim’s eyes after the criminal has been arrested—it is very rewarding.”
The Sheriff is responsible for securing the Courthouse, overseeing the Detention Center, Civil Process, and handling emergency calls in Stanly County. The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for law enforcement across an entire county, not just within a single precinct. The Stanly County Sheriff’s Office is accountable to nearly 60,000 citizens, as well as divisions that include: Patrol, Detectives, K9, Courthouse, DARE, Special Emergency Response Team (S.E.R.T.), Civil Division, and the Detention Center. In addition to managing the many different divisions, Sheriff Burris also oversees nearly 100 employees.
Sheriff George T. Burris stands modestly by his law enforcement accolades that hang on his office wall. Burris began his educational journey in Criminal Justice nearly twenty-five years ago at Stanly Community College. He admits that it is still an honor to serve the citizens of Stanly County today.