NEW SHIAWASSEE COUNTY UNDERSHERIFF Cory Carson at his desk during the Wednesday, Jan. 20 interview.
Carson is taking on the position because Robert Brancheau, the previous undersheriff, retired at the end of 2020.
Sheriff Brian BeGole had several positive words to share about the new undersheriff. “As sheriff, I realize the importance of having qualified people in positions where critical decisions are made,” BeGole offered. “Having started our careers together here, at the sheriff’s office, I have seen his accomplishments and recognize his leadership qualities. Undersheriff Carson possesses the qualities of a true law-enforcement professional and has been well respected in all the positions he has commanded. I find it fortunate to be able to draw on his proven knowledge, skills and abilities and look forward to what his experience will bring.”
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
As five members of the sheriff’s office left the department at the end of 2020, opting to accept the extra buyout offered by the county toward reducing legacy retirement expenses, Sheriff Brian BeGole was faced with filling the undersheriff position. Team members that retired included Undersheriff Robert Brancheau, Det. Lt. Scott Shenk, Sgt. Doug Chapman, Dep. Craig Lawson and Dep. David Flores – all experienced and respected sheriff’s office employees.
BeGole didn’t have to look too far for another experienced individual to take on the responsibilities of becoming undersheriff. He decided on Lt. Cory Carson who has been with the sheriff’s office since January 1997, serving in just about every position imaginable. Carson is without a doubt a man who has worn numerous hats throughout his lengthy and admirable career.
Carson is a Lansing area native, and even while interning with the state police in Shiawassee County, decided he truly wanted to work in the sheriff’s office. He worked as a reserve police officer in Owosso in 1993, graduated from Lake Superior University in 1994, then took on a police position in Durand where he first met and worked with Brian BeGole. Eventually, Carson worked a full-time position in Perry for a short period before he hired on with the sheriff’s office in Corunna.
Carson’s first job with the sheriff’s team was working in the jail as a corrections officer – which he did for a few months. After his jail work experience, Carson moved to road patrol.
“Back then it was sort of a strange deal,” he explained. “If a dispatcher called in, then someone from the road patrol had to fill in as dispatcher.” So, Carson has experience as a dispatcher, as well. “I think I have worked every position in the department that I can think of,” he shared.
According to BeGole, that is accurate. BeGole confirmed that Carson “started in the jail and worked his way to a road deputy, then a road sergeant, then a detective sergeant and road patrol lieutenant … and now the undersheriff.” Compile Carson’s experience with the sheriff’s office and earlier service in Owosso, Durand and Perry, and it is safe to surmise, he has a fairly thorough understanding of the county and law enforcement – bringing a lot of experience to his new position.
As for his favorite position with the sheriff’s office, Carson has a strong affinity for his nine years with the detective bureau. “I loved it,” he said. “My best years were spent back there. We had four guys that were very eager and I don’t think there was a crime in Shiawassee that we couldn’t solve. We enjoyed working together and those were some of my fondest years here by far.”
One of the early cases he referenced he was involved with was the Rachel Scott murder. Scott, 20, of Lennon was reported missing on July 8, 2000. She had left home two days prior to visit friends in Vernon. Her body was discovered two weeks later near Vernon and Goodall roads in Vernon Township. The Scott case was lengthy, and eleven years after her body was found, a jury convicted Laurencio Rodriguez in her death in September 2011.
Another case Carson mentioned was the LaVern E. Daniels II stabbing case in 2008 in Caledonia Township. Chad D. Rhines stabbed Daniels in a confrontation related to his estranged wife who was Daniels’ girlfriend. Carson shared the Daniels case was the first homicide he was assigned to work on.
In 2013, Carson was the case officer on a case where Melinda S. Watkins, 44, of Laingsburg, was charged with second-degree murder for the shooting death of her husband, Dean Watkins. “We had a busy few years at the detective bureau,” Carson admitted.
“When you have a victim, you want to bring them justice,” he stated about being a detective. “You want to be able to help them close things out in their mind. Closure was always important to me.”
In going forward as the new undersheriff, Carson shared, “Even with limited resources, my goal is to continue to offer the excellent service we provide in this county. Historically, we’ve made a significant impact. My goal is to make sure that continues.”
“I love it here and I love my coworkers and fellow employees I work with at the county level. I think we’re looking good, you know, financially. I think we have a good plan in place. I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Carson said.
Aside from his career, Carson shared he has “three amazing daughters and one supportive wife.” He currently lives out of county but has plans to move back in.
As for the condition of the jail, Carson was gently honest. “This building needs to be retired,” he said. “There is no doubt this county needs a new jail.” He is fearful that one day “the state is going to knock on the door” and tell everyone “that time is up. You need to build something new or outsource your jail inmates.” In the meantime, Carson has already seen to it that all of the hallways got a new coat of paint with new flooring and signage. “We keep this building up to the best of our abilities,” he said.
On a happy side note to everything Carson shared, he was pleased to report that – to his knowledge – not a single inmate has contracted COVID-19 through the county jail system during the pandemic.