By Brian Freskos
SOUTHPORT, NC (StarNewsOnline.com) — George R. McCracken, who became Southport's first black police chief during an era of simmering racial tensions in the South, died early Monday in his sleep at his home on Jabbertown Road. He was 72.
Born on April 3, 1941, at Dosher Memorial Hospital, McCracken joined the Southport Police Department in the 1960s at the urging of white friends, his wife said, placing him among the first black police officers in North Carolina. The city appointed him chief in 1974, forcing the mayor at the time to travel to the state Capitol to defend the hiring of a black man as the town's top law enforcement official.
"He was here during some turbulent times in our nation and state's history, but he was the type of person that held everything together," said the current Southport police chief, Jerry Dove. He called McCracken a "seasoned officer" who "knew the distinction between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law."