Apr. 7—Sanford police Chief Ronnie Yarborough was honored Monday by the Lee County commissioners for his longtime law enforcement service to the community.
The recognition came during a meeting of the county commissioners at the McSwain Extension building on Tramway Road.
Commission Chairman Kirk Smith read the resolution honoring Yarborough, noting that the chief has spent 50 years in law enforcement, all of it with the Sanford Police Department.
Yarborough was hired as a uniformed patrol officer in 1971 and in June 1972, promoted to detective and assigned to the Detective Division, the resolution said.
In 1974, Yarborough was promoted to sergeant and assigned to the newly formed Narcotics Divisions. In August 1975, he was promoted to lieutenant and assigned as an administrative assistant to Chief C.L. Cummings.
Yarborough was promoted to the rank of captain in 1978, continuing to serve as Cummings' administrative assistant. He was assigned to oversee the Narcotics and Detective divisions.
Cummings opted to retire in June 1978. In November, City Manager O.B. Stokes announced that Yarborough would become the permanent Sanford police chief.
Yarborough, 28, was one of the youngest police chiefs in North Carolina at the time, according to a story that ran in The Sanford Herald.
Yarborough was named the acting chief in September 1978 upon his graduation from the FBI academy's 10-week training program in Quantico, Virginia.
Commissioner Robert Reives, who was behind the honor, read a brief note from former Lee County Sheriff Billy Bryant.
"As sheriff, every time I needed support from Chief Yarborough, he never failed to provide support to the staff," the note read.
Bryant further commended Yarborough upon being "a great law enforcement officer and my friend."
Yarborough thanked the commissioners for the honor.
"This means a great deal to me," he said. "The only thing about 50 years is it gives away my oldness."
Yarborough said he's often asked when he plans to retire and offered his answer: "As long as I feel as though I can lead law enforcement and give back."