The first woman to fulfill the role of Chief Detective with the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office has retired this month.
A reception was held in honor of retired Chief Detective Donna Clanton, who began working part-time in 1991 at the Sheriff’s Office and was hired full-time July 16, 1993.
Clanton worked first as a Patrol Deputy 1993-1996, attended DARE instructor school in 1996, and then served as DARE instructor in Alexander County Schools 1996-2002.
Then in 2002, Clanton was promoted to Detective Sergeant. She worked 2003-2020 in the Investigations division of the Sheriff’s Office. In 2013, Clanton was promoted to Chief Detective and served in that role until her retirement.
She also supervised gun permits, Concealed Carry Weapons permits, Marsy’s Law, and the NC Sex Offender Registry for the county.
Over the years, Clanton attained a two-year degree in Criminal Justice and a four-year degree in Criminal Justice; earned Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Law Enforcement Certificates; logged 1,000 hours in the Basic and Advanced Network Forensics CSI program; and completed the Criminal Investigation Certificate Program from the NC Justice Academy. She had over 1,000 hours of death investigations as well.
Friends and family joined Clanton at her retirement ceremony, during which Sheriff Bowman presented Clanton with her service sidearm as a parting gift. Detention Capt. Phillip Starnes presented Clanton with a gift knife. Det. Dennis Foster presented Clanton with a plaque on behalf of the Sheriff and the department, honoring her 27 years of service. There were also a few laughs as Det. Buddy McKinney presented Clanton with a gag gift.
Department Chaplain Robert St. Clair presented a small testament “Shield a Badge With Prayer” to Clanton, and offered an invocation at the gathering before refreshments were served.
Sheriff Bowman praised Clanton’s work ethic and accomplishments.
“I know she would come in to work early in the mornings, about 6 o’clock most of the time, and stay until into the afternoons and evenings,” said Sheriff Bowman. “A lot of [her activities] she took upon herself to see that they got done. Donna is special; always has been, and always will be.”
Clanton said to her fellow officers, “Today is bittersweet. There’s a lot of emotion. I’m happy. I’m happy that I’ve survived this, that I’m not like a lot of our brothers and sisters in blue, who haven’t made it. I’m also sad because I counted up yesterday: only four years of my adult life have been away from [the Sheriff’s Office]. Since 1991, you have been my family…I pray for your safety every day.”
She noted that former Det. Keith Warren instilled a sense of camaraderie and family in the Investigations division and she thanked her fellow officers for their support.
The retired detective said she has no formal planned activities as she begins retirement, but aims to enjoy spending time with her family and friends and continue in her hobby of making jewelry.