Community Policing

Of course being the sheriff is about enforcing the law, but to me, it is about much more. I want a department that will promote communication and understanding, I would like to educate and connect with our citizens and other local agencies so we have a complete network that has a goal of reducing crime and drug use in our area. I believe deputies should be able to get to know the people they are serving so they can build positive relationships with them. Trust and respect must be established between our children, citizens and law enforcement officers. Our children should feel they can talk to our deputies, we do not want any child to fear them, the same goes for all citizens here in Pender County. We want deputies to be able to protect Pender County families and we also want them be able to get home to their families at the end of the day, to do that we must work together. We need to make sure officers are trained to deal with any situation they may come across but having close positive relationships with everyone in the community will make interactions much more effective and comfortable for all those who may be involved.

Substance Misuse

I have seen how our children have been affected by the drug epidemic sweeping our county. I know because even I am not immune from it. You see, my daughter is a victim of the drug trade so I know firsthand the pain mothers and fathers go through. I know the worry, the sleepless nights and the fear as we watch our love ones suffer. We will team together with neighboring law enforcement agencies to do all we can to ensure our deputies get the necessary training that will equip them with tools and resources to handle this growing problem. We will work to implement proven, evidence based programs that will offer people help instead of incarceration.We also want all deputies to carry and be trained in the life saving drug Narcan. In order to address the supply we must address the demand, we can not arrest our way out of this issue.


Law enforcement’s job is to protect and serve. We protect by stopping crime while it is happening and in some cases before it happens. The serve part is something I am very passionate about, and in order to do that we must do more than just arrest people. America has more people incarcerated than any other country, including China, which is authoritarian and has a population that is four times greater than ours. The return rate for those who are released from jail or prison is around 50%, this is not acceptable in my opinion, it is time to try something new.
My goal is to help prevent crime, in order to do that we have to understand why crime happens in the first place. We must address the issues facing our community and make sure every agency in Pender County is on the same page with the same common goal. That goal being, make this county a place where everyone can thrive while feeling safe and comfortable.
We must tackle issues like poverty, access to mental healthcare and lack of economic and educational opportunities. Our poverty rating is around 18% in Pender County, the national rating is 12.7% , we know that poverty equals crime. We also know that people not having access to things like mental healthcare and drug treatment programs greatly impacts the amount of crime that we are going to see.
We, that means all of us together, are going to work on correcting these problems within our community. Its time to end the revolving door of incarceration that cost tax payers money, to do this we have to implement some new programs that give people the tools they need to be productive members of society. When someone is brought in by a Pender County deputy we want to make sure they are going to leave in better shape than when they came in, with resources that are going to lower the chances of them returning to crime. That is how we keep our county and our officers safe. Help is on the way!

Coverage & Response Times

Land wise, Pender County is the 5th largest county in NC , there are 870 sq. miles that need to be covered, the stories I have heard about wait times have really concerned me. We obviously need more officers on duty. I have also heard of some good officers that left to go work for neighboring counties. Our officers are being over worked and underpaid, they need better equipment and training that will help make their jobs easier. Yes, you may say “they chose that line of work” and you would be correct, but without these officers putting their lives on the line for our county we have nobody to keep us safe. We must NOT put a price on our citizens safety or their property. I would implement effective changes to help cover the cost of more officers. Starting at the top. As a Sheriff I’m willing to have my salary capped so my deputies and the citizens of Pender County are well protected. I think the top pay for the Sheriff shouldn’t exceed higher than $70,000 a year. Especially when the median household income in our county is only around $40,000. I’m also willing to get out there with my officers, working along side them and getting to know the citizens that I am serving.

Connection and Collaboration

Our county is made up of multiple different agencies that are all supposed to work for the greater good of our community. Things run much better when they are all on the same page and working together towards the same goal. As you can probably tell I want our department to be closely involved with all of these agencies. We must not only work with them, but also work with neighboring counties and our local non-profits that provide services we can utilize. I want to also encourage the citizens of our county to be more involved, public servants work for all of you and we need your input and we need you to hold us accountable. We want to understand the problems that our residents are facing so we can work to address them. We know that there is power in numbers and if we want to see some real changes we must work together and we know that change never happens from the top down, it must come from the bottom up. As individuals we can all do small things that make a great impact, especially when done in unison with our fellow community members. We can’t wait to get to work!

Lawrence Fennell is a father and husband. He has served with Sampson County Sheriff's Office for 10 years. Fennell is a Pender County native who was born in Brooklyn, New York but moved to Willard, North Carolina, where he attended and graduated from Pender High School in Burgaw, North Carolina.

Fennell plays a vital role in his community. He is an active member of Newkirk Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, which he serves as a Sunday school teacher. Fennell grew up in Willard, North Carolina, where he worked on the farm with his father (Horace Fennell) alongside his mother (Vanese B. Fennell), who retired from Pender County Sheriff’s Office.