Giving Back: Sheriff Asa Buck ’98 Serves his County

Asa BuckPeople are always looking for ways to make a positive impact. They want to see the work they do make a difference in people’s lives. For East Carolina alumnus Asa Buck III ’98, he makes his impact by serving as sheriff of Carteret County.

As sheriff, Buck is responsible for overseeing all of the operations of the Sheriff’s Office and all the personnel working with him. He leads 82 full-time employees, with 52 of them being law enforcement officers and the other 30 being civilian employees.

“I believe the education I received at ECU has helped me in many ways,” said Buck. “I enjoyed my classes, the process of learning, and many of my professors made lasting impressions. The culmination of my education (at ECU) and my interactions with people make me who I am today.”

After graduating ECU with a bachelor of science in criminal justice, Buck slowly worked his way up the offices of Carteret County. He started as a bailiff in 1998 and by 2006 had risen all the way to deputy sheriff. It was around that time he started to think about a possible future as Sheriff of Carteret County.

“I learned the various aspects of the Sheriff’s Office (as deputy sheriff) and once I decided I wanted to run for Sheriff, I worked hard to accomplish that goal,” said Buck. “I campaigned for 18 months in my off duty time and conducted a door-to-door campaign, visiting over 5,000 homes and meeting the citizens. My hard work payed off and I was elected Sheriff in 2006. I’ve been re-elected twice since then.”

Despite his successful career as sheriff, Buck didn’t see himself being a sheriff while at ECU. But he knew that a career in criminal justice was in his future.

“I knew from the start I wanted a career in the criminal justice field,” said Buck. “While I was at ECU I never had any idea that one day I would be the Sheriff of my county. It would be years later that I would begin to consider running for sheriff.”

Since becoming sheriff, a big issue that Buck has tried to tackle is the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. He created two programs, “Pills Can Kill” and Operation “Who’s Next?” in an effort to stop the crime and death that go along with it. His “Pills Can Kill” program has collected an outstanding 1.2 million dosage units since its creation in 2008.

Buck also served as the president of the NC Sheriffs’ Association in 2014-2015. Buck was recently appointed by a North Carolina Supreme Court judge to serve on the NC Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, a newly created group of leaders in law enforcement and the public and private sectors, to evaluate the court system and make recommendations for improvements.

Despite the 17 years since his graduation, Buck still holds Pirate Nation close to his heart. He left a piece of advice that reflects the type of attitude that has made him so successful.

“Find your passion and do what you can to make a difference. Go Pirates.”

By Michael Avila

Meet Richard Chavez ’80

richard-chavezEast Carolina University alumnus Richard Chavez ’80 is a senior executive with the Department of Homeland Security.

As the director of the Office of Operations Coordination, Chavez provides counsel directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. He leads more than 500 employees who are responsible for monitoring the safety of the United States on a daily basis. His office provides vital information to support decision making across all departments of Homeland Security as well as partners in state governments, law enforcement, and the private sector.

“I’m very proud that I went to ECU,” said Chavez, who graduated with a degree in corrections and law enforcement in 1980. “My experience definitely prepared me for my additional degrees and my career.”

Originally from southern California, Chavez came to eastern North Carolina when his father, who was in the Marine Corps, was stationed at Cherry Point. While living in New Bern, Chavez started looking at schools in North Carolina, particularly ECU.

“Of course football games were a big draw, but I really liked that Greenville wasn’t a big city; it had a rural atmosphere,” he said.

He was drawn to ECU’s corrections and law enforcement program because of its broader emphasis on social work and impacting the community.

“My favorite part of my time at ECU was the interactions I had in my classes and the different activities and field trips we did,” he said. “The law and policy classes really helped me understand how things work behind the scenes, and helped me learn how to interact with the community.”

After more than 25 years as an officer in the Air Force, Chavez served as a civilian advisor in the Department of Defense. He came to Homeland Security in 2010 as the deputy director of his office, and was promoted to his current position in 2011.

While with the Department of Defense, Chavez was responsible for leading the DOD’s largest, most comprehensive, and most extensive civil support mission ever in response to Hurricane Katrina.

During his time in Homeland Security, Chavez’s office has responded to several key events, most notably the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in 2011.

Chavez’s first time back on campus was after leaving the Air Force and bringing his son back for a football game after 26 years. “It’s nice to see how much the university has grown,” he said. “I loved seeing the Pirate State of Mind logo.”

Chavez resides in Washington, D.C. and attends ECU events in the area when he can. He says he loves running into fellow Pirates, and always recommends East Carolina to those who may not have heard of it.

Chavez also holds a master’s degree in public administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, CA, and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

By Jackie Drake