Editor's note: This story was written as a part of the Observer's Explorer Post program, which gives high school students the chance to learn about journalism.
The job of a detective has always been revered as crucial and virtuous, often occupied by those seeking to inhibit justice in the community. Such is the case of local Detective Sgt. John David Furr, age 42. The difference between a standard detective and Furr is that a detective sergeant leads a team of 28 individual detectives that make up a squad working to solve cases involving homicide or assault with a deadly weapon.
“The detectives in Charlotte are completely dedicated [to their work], and always want to put others before their selves,” Furr said about his squad and other people working in local law enforcement.
The dedication comes in handy, as being a detective can be a very stressful and strenuous occupation. These people must daily deal with seeing death and suffering from the crime in our community, and the hours of a detective are rarely constant as they revolve mostly around when it is the best time to solve a case.
Furr’s wife, Carrie Furr, said his schedule depends on his cases. “He has to be very flexible, as his schedule is unpredictable. Whenever a case comes up, he has to be at work for at least a couple days.”
The job of a detective is not only to solve a murder or find an assailant, but to help ease the families and victims through their times of trouble.
“We can only help a family as much as they want [to be helped],” Furr said.
He also said when a family is open and does not display a stigma of people working in criminal justice, it is easier for them to solve the crime and often causes the family less strife. Some families, however, hold a grudge against the detectives and police, and it is always a struggle to work with these people because they often withhold useful information or even lie to the media to make the situation seem different than what had actually occurred.
This stigma is clearly demonstrated by Jason Baker, a local high school student of East Mecklenburg who knew an aunt that was recently a victim of a homicide case in a neighboring county. “I understand that they [the detectives] are just trying to do their job, but I still found them very nosy.”
Everyone has to blow off steam from work, but working as a sergeant detective requires special tactics to stay up to par.
“You have to leave your stress at work, and try not to mix your ‘lives,’” Furr said about keeping home life and work life separate. He said he believes it would negatively affect his wife and daughters if he carried over the stress from his work to his family. He also attributed his peace at home to spirituality through his faith in Christ and to working out at the gym.
If the job of being a detective is so stressful and dark, why would anyone choose it? Furr credits his inspiration for criminal justice to his father, who worked as a police officer and then as sheriff for 40 years before retiring. He said that some of his father’s close friends also worked in criminal justice, and he has looked up to them since he was young. “Being a detective is challenging, and I’m never bored at work.”
Furr said that he is content with where he is in his life and career and plans to continue as a Sergeant Detective for many years.