Carter Witten named to lead N.C. Marine Patrol


Carter Witten is the new colonel of the N.C. Marine Patrol.

Witten, most recently captain of the Wilmington Marine Patrol District, will receive the golden eagle wings at a pinning ceremony at 3 p.m. on Feb. 4 at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries headquarters in Morehead City.

“The Marine Patrol is well-respected as a professional law enforcement agency, and we are fortunate to have someone of Witten’s experience and capabilities,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

Witten has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience under his belt. He replaces former Marine Patrol Col. Dean Nelson, who retired Dec. 31.

“Colonel Witten is a veteran Marine Patrol officer and has worked in the waters of our northern, central and southern areas,” said Division of Marine Fisheries Director Steve Murphey. “He has a strong vision for the Marine Patrol and cares deeply about the resource, our stakeholders and his fellow officers.  I look forward to working with Carter and his staff in the future and congratulate him on his promotion.”

The Marine Patrol colonel is the top law enforcement officer at the Division of Marine Fisheries. The colonel manages more than 65 positions, including 53 officers and six dispatchers, and directs law enforcement efforts over 2.7 million acres of ocean and coastal fishing waters in 21 eastern counties of the state. 

He then began his career with Marine Patrol in July 2001 as a patrol officer in Hyde County. He later transferred to Carteret County in early 2002 where he patrolled the Newport River, and later to Craven County, where he patrolled the Havelock and New Bern areas.

He was promoted to sergeant over Hyde and Dare counties in September 2008. He transferred in May 2011 to Craven, Pamlico and Beaufort counties. He was then promoted to captain in the Wilmington District in April 2017.

He has served as a field training officer, an instructor, and has represented North Carolina on the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference.

Prior to joining the Marine Patrol, Witten worked with the Havelock Police Department from October 1998 to July 2001.

Witten said he is looking forward to leading Marine Patrol in its next chapter, and he knows that this next chapter must involve building a rapport with those they regulate, including both commercial and recreational fishermen.

A big part of that relationship is education, he said.

“Education can be as simple as talking with the public and explaining why we do the things we do, and why it’s important to have fisheries enforcement,” Witten said.

He said he is also looking forward to working more closely with the biologists and other non-law enforcement staff at the division, and participating on multiple committees and advisory teams to protect and build the resource.

Witten has long been known amongst his fellow officers as the go-to guy who will take charge of whatever task he is presented with. His attitude and work ethic earned him the respect of his colleagues, who nominated him as the Marine Fisheries Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2004 and again in 2014.

Witten is the only officer to receive the award twice. The Marine Fisheries Enforcement Officer of the Year award is an annual honor given by the Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards Program of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.

A native of Havelock, Witten graduated from Havelock High School in 1994 and received his Basic Law Enforcement Training Certificate from Carteret Community College in 1997.

He currently lives in Havelock with his wife Joy and son Taylor.

Download a photo of Witten’s pinning ceremony here.



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