Law in the family
Published on January 17, 2023
Get the Crayton brothers in a room together and you’re going to be entertained.
Teasing jabs and chuckles from years of inside jokes reveal their relationship.
Soon as they walk in, Rick and John, the older brothers, affectionately refer to younger brother Jason as ‘FedEx.’ Jason’s height and athleticism—which is markedly different from his brothers—led them to joke that he must’ve been delivered by a FedEx truck.
Conversations with the brothers flow naturally. While it’s evident Jason and John look up to big brother Rick, middle brother John usually takes the lead.
John was the first Crayton to join CCSO in 2016. He encouraged Rick to follow suit about three years later. Jason completed the triad in November of 2022.
The three brothers came together in early December, all proudly displaying the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office badge on their chests, as part of the CCSO swearing-in ceremony.
“It’s a unique situation to have three siblings that all work for the same law enforcement agency,” says Cabarrus County Sheriff Van Shaw. “We have siblings that work here, but this is the first time that we have three brothers serving as Sheriff’s Office deputies.
“All three of the Crayton brothers bring years of experience and different skill sets to their jobs. I feel very fortunate to have all three of them working here and serving the citizens of Cabarrus County.”
A tradition of public service
The values of public service and respect were instilled in the brothers from a young age.
“We brought our sons up to respect everyone,” says dad Jerry Crayton. “Their mama (Donna) was strict on them. She made them walk a straight line.”
Jerry spent years serving with the Locust Volunteer Fire Department and Donna was one of the original members of the ladies auxiliary. The brothers grew up tagging along on calls and visits to the station.
“A lot of parents took their kids to the ballfield, ours took us to the fire department,” John says.
“They loved going to the fire department,” Jerry recalls. “People there would come up to me and their mama and say, ‘how in the world did y’all raise three boys with so much respect for y’all and everyone else.’ I would say ‘well, they’re told to listen and if they don’t, they get what’s coming to them.’”
While it sounds strict, the brothers speak fondly of their parents and upbringing.
“We were definitely blessed with a good, sound household and a lot of love and support” Jason, the youngest, says.
“I am proud as anybody could be,” their dad says. “Everybody that I talk to tells me that they think the world of the boys as law enforcement officers.”
Their father can take some credit for that praise. When the brothers began their public service careers, he reminded them of the importance of respect.
“I told them, ‘you go out there and do your job. You do your job like you’re supposed to do your job,’” he says.
While no childhood with siblings is without quarrels, the brothers were always there for each other.
All three recall one significant Christmas, when the brotherly feuding had reached its peak. Though they don’t remember the reason for the fight, they do remember how it ended.
On Christmas morning, their mother handed them a card. On the front was an image of a boy pulling his brother on a sled. On the back, it read “Always remember. Love, Mom.”
That’s when they all realized they needed to grow up and look after each other.
“And that’s what we did, and we never looked back,” John says.
Turning passions into careers
Growing up, most of the Locust police officers were also volunteer firefighters. The exposure to law enforcement, and the relationships they forged with the officers, sparked John and Rick’s interest in the field.
They both began their careers as police officers, serving various departments before joining CCSO, where Rick now serves as a senior deputy assigned to the Harrisburg patrol division and John is a senior deputy and field training officer with the patrol division.
Jason, the only brother to start his career as a tradesman, later decided to follow in the footsteps of his older brothers. He served as a police officer before landing at CCSO, where he’s a school resource officer at A.T. Allen Elementary in Concord.
“Our family turned out to be very law enforcement oriented,” Rick says. “We also have several cousins that have gotten into it.”
Rick’s daughter-in-law, Heather, also works for CCSO. Rick and Heather first met in orientation. After talking, Rick suggested Heather meet his son and they hit it off. They are now expecting Rick’s first grandchild.
The brothers enjoy working together at CCSO. “To pull up and assist with the officer or deputy that’s there, then have the next car pull up to be your brother is a pretty neat experience,” Jason says.
Treating others with respect is at the core of the brothers’ law enforcement principles, a value that was instilled not only in childhood, but in their education.
A speaker at eldest brother Rick’s basic law enforcement graduation gave advice that stuck with him his whole career. “[He said] ‘this profession can be whatever you make it. If you try to treat people like they’re below you, you’ll have problems all the way through. You’ll have to fight everybody you deal with. If you’ll treat people like you’d expect to be treated in whatever they’re going through, you’ll be fine.’”
“That’s probably one of the most important things I teach when I have a trainee. Treat everyone with the same amount of respect that you would the sheriff, or your mama, or dad—whoever you respect the most.”
Maintaining a deep appreciation
In addition to a great working relationship, the brothers also appreciate each other at home.
Jason holds his older brothers in high esteem. “They care, they love, they support anyone they can and help anyone they can. That’s a testament to the parents that we had and the life that was instilled in us.”
The older brothers return the admiration, giving praise that makes Jason tear up.
“Jason is one of the most family-oriented people you will meet,” Rick says. “[He] is probably one of the most prime examples of what a modern father should be,” John adds.
For middle brother John, his big brother is the embodiment of what an older brother should be. “Growing up I wanted to be like Rick, and now I want to be like Rick,” John says.
This was true, even if Rick wasn’t always the doting brother.
“From the time I was old enough, Rick and his best friend would roll me down the hill on my bicycle just so I could crash into a building and they could laugh at me,” John says. “It was OK … it was OK because I got to watch mom whoop him.”
“Well, you wanted to learn how to ride,” Rick quips.
When looking to the future, the brothers aren’t sure the next generation will carry on in law enforcement, but they want them to follow what they enjoy.
“We try to help explain to them what the experiences are,” Jason says. “It’s great to be able to have an impact and help others, and there are different ways to do that. It doesn’t have to be law enforcement.”
“Anywhere you can help others in a positive manner is worth getting into,” Rick adds.
An extended family of brothers and sisters
While the brothers value having each other in the field, they also appreciate their extended family at CCSO.
“We’ve got a bunch of brothers and sisters out here doing the same job that we’re doing, and I’d lay it down for them just like I would these guys,” Rick says.
“This is a large agency, but it’s built around family,” John adds. “Sheriff Shaw is very family oriented, and it shows. To him you are not just a number, and that’s one of the biggest reasons I pushed so hard for these two to come over here.”
“There’s a constant love and support here,” Jason adds.
Looking ahead, oldest brother Rick is set to retire in just over a year, and middle brother John a couple years after.
Jason plans to be at CCSO a while. “This has been nothing but a great experience for me,” he says. “I’m excited to continue to be a part of Cabarrus County and hope it continues to make me a better officer.”
While the Crayton brothers deeply value their extended family, at the end of the day, they are most thankful for each other.
“I couldn’t have been more blessed to have these two brothers,” Jason says.
About the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office
The Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office is committed to protecting the lives, property and rights of all people and to maintaining order and enforcing the law impartially.
The CCSO is currently accepting applications for deputy sheriffs at https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/Cabarruscounty. Annual pay starts around $42,000 and benefits include paid holidays, a retirement plan, paid on-the-job training and employee health, dental and vision insurance.
Visit https://www.cabarruscounty.us/Government/Departments/Sheriffs-Office to learn more about CCSO. Stay up to date with news, emergency alerts, inmate information and more through the CCSO app, available for download in the App Store and Google Play store.