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Sheriff Steve E. Whisenant


I have been married to Renee Wright Whisenant since 1982 and we have been blessed with two children, a son-in-law and daughter-in-law.


My wife Renee is retired as the Executive Assistant to the CEO at Broughton Hospital in 2015. My daughter Lauren is married to Matt Imboden and they live in Winston-Salem. They have blessed Renee and I with a granddaughter. Both Lauren and Matt earned graduate degrees from Wake Forest University. Lauren is a Physician Assistant at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, and Matt is the Executive Director of Integrative Academic & Student Services at Wake Forest University's School of Business.  Matt is also pursuing his Doctorate Degree in Education at UNC Greensboro.

My son Tyler is married to Kelli Hemmings and they have blessed us with two additional granddaughters. Tyler is a UNC Charlotte graduate with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and is employed as an investigator with Maiden Police Department. Kelli is employed as a teaching assistant with New Dimensions Charter School. 






Burke County Sheriff's Office

11/04/14 – Present: Elected Sheriff of Burke County
06/01/11 – 11/04/14: Appointed Sheriff to fill the unexpired term of retiring Sheriff McDevitt


Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility (BCDCF), Morganton, NC

08/20/10 – 05/31/11: Interim Jail Administrator


Burke County Sheriff's Office

04/01/09 – 05/31/11: Sheriff's Reserve Deputy/Consultant


United States Probation Office, Eastern District of Virginia

05/01/06 – 12-31-08 (Retired): Chief United States Probation Officer
One of only 94 chief probation officers in the United States. Served as the chief executive officer for the Eastern District of Virginia Probation Office, the sixth largest probation district in the U.S.


United States Probation Office, Western District of North Carolina

01/13/03 – 04/30/06: Deputy Chief

01/02/00 – 01/12/03: Supervising Officer, Hickory and Statesville Offices
06/01/95 – 01/01/00: Officer in Charge (OIC) and Program Development Coordinator (PDC)
10/20/86 – 05/31/95: Probation Officer


Burke County Sheriff's Office

06/01/85 – 10/17/86: Captain of Operations

(Second in command. At age 29, asked by retiring Sheriff Jerry Richards to consider an appointment to serve Richards' final two years of Sheriff)
07/13/82 – 05/31/85: Lieutenant of Detectives
08/14/79 – 07/12/82: Detective and Sergeant of Detectives
03/14/79 – 08/13/79: Patrol Officer

12/01/77 – 07/09/78: Patrol Officer




Bachelor of Science in Social Science/Criminal Justice, June 1984
Gardner Webb University, Boiling Springs, North Carolina; graduated summa cum laude


Associate of Applied Science in Police Science, November 1981
Western Piedmont Community College, Morganton, North Carolina; graduated with high honors and served on the student court as a court justice


High School Diploma, June 1975
Freedom High School, Morganton, North Carolina




Community Leadership:

  • National Sheriff's Association Member
  • Burke County Domestic Violence Task Force Member
  • Honorary Rotarian
  • North Carolina's Local Child Protection and Child Fatality Prevention Team
  • North Carolina Jail Administrators Association Board of Directors
  • Burke County Narcotic’s Task Force – Board Member
  • Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility – Board Member
  • Strategic Alliance for Burke Youth (SABY) – Board Member
  • REPAY – Board Member
  • Morganton/Burke Crime Stoppers – Board Member
  • Burke Substance Abuse Network (BSAN) - Member
  • Safe Schools Healthy Students - Core Management Team Member
  • Juvenile Crime Prevention Council - Board Member
  • Options, Inc. - Board Member
  • Part-time criminal justice instructor at Western Piedmont Community College, Morganton, NC
  • Certified Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) Instructor for NC
  • Law enforcement representative for the Burke Youth Services and Delinquency Program
  • Secretary on Board of Directors for Western NC Lady Aces American Amateur Union Basketball Club, Asheville, NC


Educational Leadership:

  • President of Oak Hill Elementary Parent Teacher Organization
  • Vice-president of Table Rock Middle School Booster's Club
  • Board member of Freedom High School Athletic Booster Club


Church Leadership:

  • Church Trustee
  • Chairman of Deacons, Budget and Finance, Pastor Search, and various other committees
  • Sunday School Director




  • May 2005-Letter of Commendation for job excellence and professionalism
  • April 2004-Eight Hours Administrative Leave for outstanding job effort and dedication
  • 1995-First graduating class of a national three year Leadership Development Program created and administered by the Federal Judicial Center
  • 1999 United States Probation and Pretrial Services Officer Mid-Atlantic Line Officer of the Year
  • September 1999-Special Service Award for dedication and loyalty to the U.S. Probation Office
  • June 1997-Positive Action Certificate for organizing and facilitating the U.S. Probation Office transfer of offices
  • October 1990-Awarded Quality Pay Increase for superior work performance, efficient work habits, integrity and dedication to the job
  • Alpha Chi Honor Society, Gardner Webb University
  • 12 years perfect attendance in grade school