RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The legacy of fallen Wake County Sheriff’s Office deputy Ned Byrd will now live through future law enforcement officers. Byrd, 48, a K-9 handler, was shot and killed in the line of duty in August. His K-9, Sasha, remained inside the patrol vehicle.
On Wednesday, Back the Blue NC, presented a $1,400 check to the sheriff’s office K-9 unit in honor of Byrd. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to assisting the children and families of officers killed in the line of duty.
“Try and put yourself into the mindset of having a job where every day when you go to work, you honestly don’t know if you’re going to make it home that night. This is what these men and women go through day-in and day-out,” Back the Blue NC’s Gadi Adelman said.
The agency’s 14 K-9s play a critical role in the community, whether it’s searching for a missing person or sniffing for narcotics. “The things that these dogs are capable of doing is unbelievable,” K-9 handler Travis Carol said. “Just watching them every day, one way or another, they amaze you in what they’re capable of doing.”
The nonprofit also announced a new scholarship on Wednesday: The Ned Byrd B.L.E.T Scholarship Fund. Back the Blue NC initially raised money for Byrd’s family, but they returned it and asked the funds instead to be used to help someone else. Back the Blue NC said it will partner with Wake Tech Community College to put one student through basic law enforcement training each year.
“If you knew Ned, that’s him. He was always about teaching that next person, taking that time and caring about folks and it’s just so fitting for him to be the one to pass on to future generations,” K-9 handler Devon Richardson said. “Speaking with his family [they’re] amazing people. It’s a representation of him.”
In addition, all 12 of WCSO’s K-9 handlers received a gift basket. Their partners weren’t left out, as all the dogs got a basket, too. It’s a gesture appreciated by the tight-knit unit.
“It’s easy to get distracted about all the things going on, but this is the real Wake County,” Richardson said. “This is what we love. This is what we’re here for, and ultimately, this is what we’re willing to give our lives for.”
Byrd first joined the sheriff’s office in 2009 as a detention officer. His goal was to become a deputy, and he reached that goal in March 2018. Byrd also competed nationally and internationally in jiu-jitsu and won titles.