• Search

Hero Down: Richmond County Sheriff James ‘Clem’ Clemmons Dies Unexpectedly

Rockingham, NC – Richmond County Sheriff James “Clem” Clemmons died unexpectedly at his home on Aug. 5 due to natural causes.

“It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of our colleague and friend, Sheriff James ‘Clem’ Clemmons, who passed away unexpectedly while at home this morning,” Richmond County said in a Facebook post later the same morning. “We will all miss him more than any words can express. He was not just our co-worker, but a great friend to all and an awesome leader in our Community.”

“Please keep our Deputies, coworkers, staff and most of all Sheriff Clemmons’ family in your thoughts and prayers,” the post read.

The 60-year-old sheriff’s exact cause of death was not released.

Sheriff Clemmons joined the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) as a patrol deputy in 1989, the Richmond County Daily Journal reported.

He rose through the ranks over the decades that followed, and was first elected sheriff in 2011.

Sheriff Clemmons served as vice president of the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association (NCSA) from 2014 until 2018, as president from 2018 until 2019, and as the Executive Committee chair from 2019 until 2020, the Richmond County Daily Journal reported.

Then-President Donald Trump chose him to be a part of his Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice in January of 2020, according to the paper.

Approximately six months later, Sheriff Clemmons was also appointed as a sheriff representative to the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, which is tasked with establishing best practices for the state’s law enforcement officers.

“Sheriff Clemmons touched the lives of many people,” RCSO Chief Deputy Mark Gulledge said in a statement. “He was a true man of faith, dedication and integrity.”

Hamlet Police Department (HPD) Chief Dennis Brown said the sheriff’s death came as a shock to the entire department, the Richmond County Daily Journal reported.

“His loss is immeasurable. Sheriff Clemmons always had a warm and compassionate way that bridged idealistic divides to find a common ground,” Chief Brown told the paper. “He was consistently ready and willing to help no matter what we needed. Every day our sheriff demonstrated what is right and ethical. Our prayers are with his family and all residents of Richmond County. He will be missed.”

Sheriff Clemmons’ sudden passing also came as a blow to the NCSA.

“Sheriff James Clemmons was an outstanding and long-time leader of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, he held many leadership roles, and was a friend to everyone, was always a voice for doing the right thing and doing it professionally,” NCSA Vice President and general counsel Eddie Caldwell told the Richmond County Daily Journal. “His passing will be a tremendous loss for all of us affiliated with the association, whether it’s sheriffs and staff, and numerous law enforcement professionals all across the state.”

Sheriff Clemmons was laid to rest on Tuesday, according to his obituary.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Richmond County Sheriff James “Clem” Clemmons, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


Sign up to our daily newsletter so you don't miss out on the latest events surrounding law enforcement!

Follow Me

Follow us on social media and be sure to mark us as "See First."