WINDSOR - Bertie County Sheriff John Holley will retire at the end of his current term.

Sheriff Holley, who is in his third term as sheriff, said Thursday he does not plan to seek re-election next year, and will instead end his nearly four decades in full-time law enforcement.

“I’m pretty sure it was Kobe Bryant who said you’ll know when it’s time. It’s time,” Sheriff Holley said. “I have loved serving the people of Bertie County. It was my goal to become sheriff the day I started in law enforcement and I’m grateful I’ve been able to serve. Now, I know it’s time for me to do other things in life.”

While he said he loves his job and law enforcement, Sheriff Holley said it was time to spend more time with his wife and the grandchildren he adores.

“People don’t know what a law enforcement officer’s spouse goes through,” he said. “I can’t say thank you enough to Floretta for her support for all these years.”

Sheriff Holley will celebrate 39 years in law enforcement this coming February. He expressed his appreciation to then Sheriff J. Wallace Perry, who hired him.

“Sheriff Perry asked me what my goal was and I told him one day I wanted to be sheriff,” Holley said. “He told me he hoped he lived to see that day and I’m thankful – and I hope he is too – that he has been here to see me achieve this goal, and to be a part of it.”

Next year’s sheriff election filing is looming in December, and Sheriff Holley said he spent time thinking and praying about his decision.

“I think I’ve seen it all and basically done it all at this point,” he said. “I don’t think there is anything left to accomplish in law enforcement. It’s just time.”

Sheriff Holley said he will miss the citizens and the rigors of law enforcement work.

“Once you are a law enforcement officer, you are always a law enforcement officer,” he said. “I always want to serve our citizens, but the time for full-time service is coming to an end.”

Sheriff Holley said his staff has been “like a family” and he will support them and continue to help them in any way he can.

“They mean everything to me,” he said.

In fact, Sheriff Holley said while he may or may not endorse a candidate in the upcoming election, his decision will be based on what is best for his staff.

“I owe it to them to support them,” he said. “They have been there for me 100 percent and it’s the least I can do. I will hear from them and, if appropriate, I will make an endorsement based on them.”

Looking back, Sheriff Holley said he would do it all over again.

“I’d do it again in a minute,” he said. “In fact, I thank God that he chose me to have this opportunity. It has been the most wonderful experience serving the citizens of Bertie County.”

As for the remainder of his term, Sheriff Holley said he fully expects to serve out the final 13 months of his third term.

“At this time, that is my plan,” he said.

While saying he won’t seek re-election, and that he does not plan to seek office as a Bertie County Commissioner at this time, Sheriff Holley said he is exploring other opportunities of service.

“I have been approached to consider other ways of serving,” he said. “We’ll weigh those and see if anything feels right and is right for me and my family.”

Thadd White is Group Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly, The Enterprise & Eastern North Carolina Living. He can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.