Randy Sturgill grew up in the living quarters of Harnett County Jail, but not because he broke the laws. His father was the Deputy Chief Sheriff and the Sturgill family lived on the prison grounds. It was the prisoners who taught Randy how to play cards and who taught him the importance of living a better life than the ones they had chosen.
It should be noted that Harnett County is mostly land and very little water, but the Cape Fear River runs through it and Randy Sturgill remembers playing near its shores as a child. He also remembers the family’s regular trips to the North Carolina coast where he played at the beach. They are the touchstones of his childhood, although they did not come into play in his professional life until more than half a century later.
He followed his father into law enforcement – first as a cadet with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, then returned to North Carolina to serve in highway patrol communications. A few years later he became a Lillington Police Officer – back in Harnett County. Eventually, he joined the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office where he worked as a uniformed assistant and narcotics investigator.
But you might recognize the name Randy Sturgill for another reason: local news. He is often credited with mobilizing the popular movement against offshore drilling and seismic testing, which has led hundreds of east coast municipalities to sign resolutions opposing offshore oil and gas exploration.
Today he works as Senior Field Representative for Oceana, a national non-profit conservation organization that works to influence policies for the preservation and restoration of the world’s oceans.
His path to the defense of the environment, as a group of four wise men once said, has been a long and winding one. Join us on a journey down this road on this edition of CoastLine.
Randy Sturgill, Senior Field Representative, Oceana; retired law enforcement officer
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