There are a number of issues that the citizens of Macon County are concerned about. I will utilize this section to notify you on where I stand on each of these issues. As concerns are raised during the campaign, I will add them to this page to enable everyone who may not have the option of asking, to see how I stand on their concern.
I have a plan to reorganize the Department and put additional manpower into areas where they are needed during peak times. I believe I can immediately add three Deputies to the road patrol and once accomplished, they will be allocated to the areas of Nantahala/Topton, Otto and Highlands to provide coverage when needed. Additionally, once the department is reorganized, I believe there will be a much more efficient use of manpower and thereby make better use of the scarce taxpayer funds allocated to the Sheriff's Department. (Read More)
This is an area I have much expertise in. I will work with our federal and local partners to address drug related crimes in our county. However, while I will enforce all laws and make arrests of those who violate the laws, I realize we cannot arrest our way out of this issue. My goal will be to make Macon County a place where those who sell drugs would not want to be. I have more experience than any of my opponents in addressing this matter. I will utilize all the tools at my disposal to eradicate our county of those who want to sell their poison here. Once a person with a drug problem enters the legal system, I will expand the programs already in place to offer rehabilitation to those who are willing to participate. My goal would be to never have to arrest the same addict twice. Education and treatment will go a long way towards meeting that goal. I will work with the District Attorney to try to establish a drug court that can adequately deal with people who have drug addictions. (Read More)
I will work to ensure that this Sheriff's Department is as transparent and responsive as it can be. I will work to ensure that all officers are equipped with body worn cameras. I will work with the District Attorney to release recordings when necessary as quickly as necessary. This will ensure that trust and professionalism is continuing to be built between the citizens of Macon County and the Sheriff's Department. I will work to investigate all complaints of corruption and wrongdoing by our Deputies. I will release the results of those investigations in accordance with state statutes as soon as possible to ensure our citizens are confident in the process.
In the event we have an incident where an officer causes great bodily harm or death, an immediate investigation will be initiated. I will work with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to conduct the investigation to ensure the citizens of Macon County are confident that it was done in a fair and transparent manner. I will ensure that outcomes are made public, consistent with state statutes, regardless of whether my officer was at fault to ensure the process is as transparent as possible. If I find that there were deficiencies noted, they will be corrected as soon as possible to build trust with our communities.(Read More)
Alex Palachnik asked the question on Macon Co. Politics. I thought it was a good question and felt you should know where I am on it. My response was:
Alex Palachnik I will support whatever the constitution of the United States and the State of North Carolina says. When it comes to our rights under the constitution, until congress and the people change that right by vote it is the law which I will swear and affirm to uphold. Until the people of this country and state decide to vote to give up their rights to bear arms, I will support their right to do so.
North Carolina Constitution says:
State Right to Bear Arms in North Carolina
DECEMBER 1, 2020
Article I, § 30 of the North Carolina State Constitution, entitled “Militia and the right to bear arms,” provides:
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; and, as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained, and the military shall be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. Nothing herein shall justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons, or prevent the General Assembly from enacting penal statutes against that practice.”
Blake BuchananRobert W. Cook Nick Lofthouse just to clarify on a point made here, concerning the post I made about the RCSO K9 Unit, I believe that it may have been taken out of context. MSCO works closely with RCSO, and that post was simply me cheering on their successes. As far as the quote mentioned in the post, the quoted individual was referring to the county line in general, not specifically the Macon/Rabun line. (This interview didn’t take place in Macon Co.) I assure you, if drug traffickers feel at ease traveling through Macon, it’s only because of their own ignorance. MCSO investigative efforts have created ripples in the drug trafficking industry that extends well into North GA, and beyond. The MCSO Narcotics and K9 Divisions are often looked at as the premier drug enforcement entities in the area. Beyond Macon County, both units are also heavily involved in the investigative and criminal interdiction efforts of several Western NC and North Georgia law enforcement agencies. As you know, Narcotics investigations is and always will be a team effort, involving multiple jurisdictions and investigative agencies. All this to say, the guys and gals at MCSO are carrying their weight on the team, and often the weight of others.I’m one of the first to talk about the value of tools and resources.. and that’s something that’ll always be constantly evolving.. but I tell ya, a resource you can’t campaign into or out of is the heart of those out there doing the job day in and day out. To them, this is beyond a mission, this is blood red and personal.Narcotics Supervisor - B.Buchanan
AuthorBlake Buchanan thank you for your input. Too bad that anyone who read my post took it as a disrespect or indication that I had anything but the highest regard for not only the Narcotics team but the K9. My point was about the management and utilization of the members of the K9 unit. Every Unit within the department will be scrutinized when we plan the reorganization. I believe the citizens of Franklin deserve to be secure in the knowledge that their Sheriff's Office is putting all assets into the prevention of ALL crime. Not just Narcotics. I am well aware of the far reaching effects of a Narcotics investigation. I have authored a large number of highly complex investigations involving wire tap and federal prosecution. Until we are 100% manned on the street and in the jail, we all may have to change the way we do business just a bit. As a matter of fact, I said in my responses that the life of a K9 officer may not change a whole lot. It just needs to be under the control of a Lieutenant who, along with the Chief Deputy and I will decide on the best use of our assets. You guys rock! But while I have to worry about Narcotics in the county, I also have to answer the calls for service. As I said before, nothing is carved in stone. If a better idea comes along, that too will be considered. Again, I always appreciate the input from members of the department and the citizens of Macon County.
For the past number of years, the current administration of the Macon County Sheriff's Office has had a second in command that was working only in a part time capacity. I am not sure how effective that would be for such an important position. One of the items on my "to do" list would be to ensure that is a fully staffed position. As it is, it leaves the chain of command with huge hole within it. Additionally, it keeps the Sheriff from being as effective as he can be (in my opinion) as he would have to handle much of what that position entails in addition to his normal duties. I plan on a complete study of the department from top to bottom and reorganizing it to ensure the greatest efficiency possible. I also will make leadership responsible and accountable for their positions withing the chain of command.
This week I will address the issue of transparency. I have spoken to a number of citizens and this is one of several issues that are mentioned. They are concerned they do not get a response from the Sheriff's Office when they make inquiries. There have been those who run local social media blogs/news outlets that have made inquiries to no avail. I will change that. While I don't play gotcha type games, I will entertain any and all questions to the best of my ability. You will get a response from either myself or from someone within the organization that is responsible for that function. When an elected official fails to respond, it appears they are hiding something. Even if that is not the case, there is the image of impropriety. I do not want that image in my administration. I believe the citizens of Macon County deserve to know what is going on. The more they know, good or bad, the more they will be willing to listen when the important things like funding arise.
One thing I will work hard to do is ensure that every Deputy is outfitted with body worn cameras as well as in-car cameras. There are some already in use and have been for nearly a year. However, as an organization, it is absolutely necessary to have the proper policies and procedures in place to govern how that equipment is utilized and when video footage can be released. It is my understanding the department has not had the necessary formal polices in place which has put them in a position of liability. Even if the policies are "in process" the use of equipment without proper policies being in place is just as bad as not having them. As an administrator, the Sheriff is negligent and can be held personally responsible if his deputies are operating without directions. This is but one area that I had mentioned early on. It is an indication that now is the time for a change.
In the first month of my administration I will institute a review of all policies and procedures to ensure they are up to date. Where there are areas, such as the lack of policies concerning body worn cameras; I will get it corrected immediately. There are hundreds of departments within the state of North Carolina alone who are currently utilizing the cameras. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. It has already been invented. We just have to modify to meet our particular needs. This refers to the need for efficiency, transparency and professionalism. It is also an indication of how little things change when an administration doesn't. It is time for a change.
It is time for new ideas. It is time for a new Sheriff; one who has been leadership tested and experience proven. It is time to elect Bob Cook as Sheriff of Macon County.
A number of my posts have been in reference to transparency. I feel it is important that the citizens of Macon County know what the Department is doing, especially when it comes to interactions with citizens. Equally important is that the citizens have confidence in the department to handle issues when they arise and report the results to those they work for. There are rules regarding personnel matters and they must be followed. However, waiting until it is reported in the news to address it is not in the best interest of the citizens. Every officer who is accused of something is absolutely entitled to an investigation to prove or disprove the allegations. It is necessary to let the public know the details of the issue. Without reporting the results of an investigation within a reasonable amount of time, it has the appearance of impropriety even if the officer is exonerated. The delay in an investigation is detrimental to the officer involved, the department as a whole and the citizens of Macon County. If I am elected Sheriff of Macon County, I pledge to report back the results of an investigation as soon as I am legally able.
I was asked in a post last week if I “have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with bad cops”.
I have been tasked with investigating officers I’ve known in the past. I have also lost investigations because those I worked with were involved with who I was investigating. The way I see it, if you are an officer and are involved in corruption of any type, you have no place in the department and no place in law enforcement. I conducted those investigations just as I did any others I was tasked with. On occasion there was no proof and I moved on. It was difficult to get through a wire tap investigation without picking up at least one officer with whom I worked who was associating with my target. When I had the occasion where that did happen, I immediately reported it to my supervisors. They would then determine if it should be turned over to the unit that handled criminal investigations involving law enforcement within our department. In no way did they receive any protection from me. Many times the Officer that was dealing with the target had no criminal intent. Often, when an officer appears corrupt and hanging out with a criminal or one who is known to commit crimes, it is because he or she may be associating with someone they grew up with or went to school with and have known for a long time. Other times, sadly, they are involved.
Now on to the question of what would I do if I discovered corruption within the Macon County Sheriff’s Department. Depending on the offense, if it is of a serious nature such as a felony, I would contact the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation or the appropriate federal agency to conduct the investigation. This is one area that I think the mere image of impropriety can be devastating to the reputation and morale of the department. If the violation is not a felony, I would direct my staff to conduct an investigation and if borne out to be true, the appropriate level of discipline would be the result. I will review each and every investigation into corruption within my department to ensure it’s thoroughness. There will be no place in my organization for any type of corruption. We must have the trust of those we serve. Completed investigations involving criminal behavior will be turned over to the District Attorney for possible charges.
I have been told on more than one occasion by a citizen of this county that they are tired of law enforcement getting away with things that they themselves can’t do without penalty. As Police Officers, we are held to a much higher standard. There are always mistakes that will be made. I can deal with that and violations of policy will be dealt with in accordance with those policies and personnel rules. But, deliberately violating the law and policies, will not be tolerated and handled accordingly. We cannot afford even the image of impropriety!
One thing I must make clear though is any Officer accused of wrongdoing will get an absolutely fair investigation and responses to complaints will NOT be dealt with in ways just to placate the complainant. The Deputies have the same rights as any other citizen. I cannot and will not be bullied into making a decision without a full investigation! I owe that to each and every Deputy working for that department. Additionally, I will not be making comments on the merits of any case until the investigation is completed. The citizens of Macon County deserve that. It is the only way to ensure a fair process for all involved.
One of the other things that seems to be a common perception is how some people can get away with violations while others cannot. The common complaint is that it appears that one person avoids being cited or arrested, while others suffer the consequences. (Remember what I said about image of impropriety?). We can not tolerate that. I can assure everyone that if they break the law, they will be treated equally in accordance with the law. Everyone gets equal treatment regardless of who they are. I have arrested people I’ve known in the past, one who was a very good friend and an ex-officer I worked closely with. I have also arrested informants I was using because they violated the law once again while I was utilizing them. Hopefully the arrest of someone cooperating with authorities will not jeopardize an ongoing case but if it does, we will have to find another way to prove it. That is where my Detective’s investigative skills will shine as they find another way to prove the case. I have been there and done that. That is where I differ from my opponents. I know it can be done because I have done it.
If I am presented with a complaint of corruption, it will be fully investigated and a report of the results will be released in accordance with the laws governing internal investigations. I have seen and lived through the devastation that can be caused by corrupt Officers. It takes years to get past the damage even from the cases that are handled appropriately.
As I have not been able to review the department policies and procedures, I can only assume there are policies on how to handle citizen complaints. These will be reviewed, updated and strengthened to ensure that each complaint is properly handled. The complainant will always receive a report from me that lets them know whether the complaint was sustained or not. This is how we build trust.
This is a tough issue that always evokes strong emotions. Transparency is one of my key issues and I will be transparent. The citizens of Macon County demand it and if we are to have their trust, they will get it.
A number of my posts have been in reference to transparency. I feel it is important that the citizens of Macon County know what the Department is doing, especially when it comes to interactions with citizens. Equally important is that the citizens have confidence in the department to handle issues when they arise and report the results to those they work for. There are rules regarding personnel matters and they must be followed. However, waiting until it is reported in the news to address it is not in the best interest of the citizens. Every officer who is accused of something is absolutely entitled to an investigation to prove or disprove the allegations. It is necessary to let the public know the details of the issue. Without reporting the results of an investigation within a reasonable amount of time, it has the appearance of impropriety even if the officer is exonerated. The delay in an investigation is detrimental to the officer involved, the department as a whole and the citizens of Macon County. If I am elected Sheriff of Macon County, I pledge to report back the results of an investigation as soon as I am legally able. (Read More)
I was speaking with a friend I respect very much today. We were discussing the Sheriff’s race. He had a unique observation. He said the job of a Sheriff is very much like a business owner. I gave that some thought and I have to agree. As Sheriff, I will be the face of the Macon County Law Enforcement. I will be expected to make the big decisions in reference to how the department will progress. I will be the one who takes responsibility when one of my employees makes a mistake. I will make the decisions on who we hire and sadly, who we fire. I will make the decisions on how to best utilize our assets to further our mission. I will be the one who puts the very best people I can find into the position they are best suited for. Especially when it comes to the leadership positions. Like President Harry Truman once said, “The buck stops here.”
So, as I look at my life’s experiences, I try to find those qualities in me and where I was able to exercise them. They began when I was a teenager and President of my Junior Achievement group for two years. I learned about making a product, sales and the like. Then also as a teenager, I worked at a Boy Scout camp for a summer and learned independence and teamwork. I then learned responsibility as a young man when I got married. I had to learn I was not the most important person in the world as my family grew. They were. When I joined the Navy, I learned leadership at every level. I had some great leaders teaching me by example. Something I carry with me today. As a Chief in the Navy I learned that you take care of those in your charge and they will walk through the gates of hell for you. I learned about placing the most qualified personnel into the jobs they are best suited for. I also learned about work ethic and thinking outside the box to get the job done. When I worked for the grocery chain Publix I learned about customer service; making our customers happy meant they kept coming back and shopping our store. Then I began my career as a law enforcement officer. There I learned the meaning of service. I learned about all sorts of people and how regardless of who or what they were, I was there to ensure their safety. I further learned about leadership and working with people. I learned that people are people and they all have a right to a safe and happy living environment.
Now this brings me to the job of Sheriff. I believe that a Sheriff doesn’t necessarily have to jump out of the car and chase bad guys. He isn’t responsible for advising the suspects of their Miranda rights or even ensuring that there is proper probable cause in the arrest. He needs to administer the department. He needs to ensure his employees are happy, well taken care of, well trained and have all the tools they need to execute their duties. What is the icing on the cake is a Sheriff who has all of these qualities and can recognize when the details of the job are not being completed correctly. A Sheriff who can look at a particularly tough situation and can recommend a tactic or process that hasn’t been tried before. A Sheriff who knows the job, inside and out.
I am that person who has all of those traits and qualifications. I am the best candidate to move our Macon County Sheriff’s Office into the next phase.
I was recently asked by Darren Womack how I would address the retention of employees. It is a great question and deserve attention.
Years ago, while standing at the podium in my retirement ceremony at the end of my Naval career, I had the opportunity to say pretty much what I felt. In front of me were standing the young sailors that had worked for me and to my left were my fellow Chief Petty Officers. I said the usual “sad to leave, excited for the future, blah…blah…blah.” Towards the end of my speech, I turned to my fellow Chiefs and told them that they need to take care of these people (pointing to my young sailors). “Because if you don’t they will take care of you. You just won’t like how they do it.”
My point of that story is that you must take care of the most valuable asset to any organization and that is those who work for and with you. That alone is one of the greatest reasons people leave. They do not want to deal with an extremely stressful job and have to worry about where the administration is coming from or what the crisis of the day is.
In my administration I will hold leadership responsible for how they interact with their subordinates. I will not tolerate screaming or cussing at them. They need to be able to count on their chain of command to function the way it is supposed to. They need to know we care about them and their needs. I have had the work with some great leaders and some not so great leaders. I have learned to deal with people through that prism.
One thing that we need to do aside from taking care of them and treating them right is to ensure they can make a decent living. That they can afford health care. So pay and benefits is important to retention.
Finally, we need to make sure they are not worked to death. The department is currently down a high number of officer, much like other departments in the country. We need to get better at recruiting. In the past two and a half years, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office has rarely recruited for more officers at the police academy that is in their own back yard. That will change. I will be there and speak to every class. A full complement of officers makes everyone else’s life much easier.
Through tested leadership and proven experience I will make recruitment and retention a priority.
Thank you Mr. Womack for the great question!
Questions for all of the Sheriff candidates.
How many years of experience do you have arresting drug dealers?
For my entire 22 years of Law Enforcement experience I have concentrated on ridding my areas of responsibility of drug dealers. However I was an undercover Narcotics Detective for 14 years. One assignment within that 14 years Was as a DEA Task Force Officer. For several more years I worked hand and hand with two DEA squads. During that time I began by working on the corner dealers purchasing small amounts of cocaine and heroin and the occasional marijuana. I eventually worked up to conducting hand to hand drug purchases of large amounts of heroin as well as kilogram amounts of methamphetamine. Additionally have conducted historical drug investigations for federal prosecution as well as complicated wire tap investigations.
How many years of experience do you have
Interacting with confidential informants?
Beginning when I was in patrol in Jacksonville Beach and continuing on to my tenure with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office I developed informants for a total of twenty two years. I have had some good ones and some bad ones and some I had to rearrest for continuing to deal drugs. I typically kept a small core of really good informants who have provided information on everything from locating kidnap victims, homicide suspect identification, shooting suspects, assassination plots, public corruption, international drug traffickers, food stamp fraud traffickers and of course local drug dealers.
How many years of experience do you have as an undercover narcotics officer?
I have approximately 14 years working undercover Narcotics. Additionally, I have about one year working undercover food stamp fraud investigations and my last undercover deal I did was as a purchaser of over 100 catalytic converters. I have a total of approximately 16 years working undercover.
How many years of experience do you have compiling identifying information on suspects charged with selling narcotics?
For about 20 years I worked consistently towards identifying drug houses and the dealers who ran them as well as major trafficking organizations. My last couple years was in the homicide unit where I spent the same effort identifying shooters.
How many years of experience do you have developing plans on how to catch the suspect?
I was a Detective for 16 years. I was responsible for developing a plan to ensuring a good case, arrest and prosecution of the suspect.
How many years of experience do you have gathering, verifying and assessing all appropriate and available information?
While in the U.S. Navy, I was occasionally tasked with investigating complaints of disciplinary violations by young sailors. It was my job to either prove or disprove the violations. Once I was hired as a Law Enforcement Officer my entire time was spent developing cases either proactively or as a result of an assignment.
How many years of experience do you have maintaining surveillance of suspects to detect their habit of working?
One thing I enjoyed was conducting surveillance of targets. I was able to really home my skills one I was assigned in the Narcotics Unit. I did that for 14 years. While there I utilized every form of surveillance available to me (physical and electronic).
How many years of experience do you have selecting the undercover officers best suited to contacting the suspect and purchasing narcotics?
I occasionally had to select another undercover officer to conduct the purchase of drugs. This would usually be as a result of me not fitting the typical customer description. I did this over the period of 14 years I was in Narcotics.
How many years of experience do you have submitting written reports containing charges, available facts and evidence to authorize getting a search warrant or wire tap?
I have approximately 9 years conducting wire tap investigations. I was the affiant on approximately 99 separate applications for authorization to conduct wire intercepts. These resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in seizures of cash, cars and jewelry. Seizures of many kilograms of drugs (heroin, meth, pills and cocaine). Well over a hundred firearms and hundreds of arrests.
How many years of experience do you have participating in and conducting raids searches or arrests?
I conducted one while an officer in Jacksonville Beach and hundreds as an officer and detective with Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office either as an affiant or participant. Total of approximately 20 years.
How many years of experience do you have appearing in court as a witness for the narcotics work you performed?
I have testified in court in reference to narcotics hundreds of times. I have testified in both state and federal court. I was determined to have been an expert witness in state court in the following areas: drug terminology, street level drug operations and drug forfeitures.
How many years of experience do you have instructing a team of other detectives or police officers?
In my 14 years as a Narcotics Detective, I trained many other Detectives and a few DEA agents. Additionally I had at least two FBI agents, an FDLE agent and an NCIS agent work with me to learn how to conduct wire tap/drug investigations.
If you don't have any experience in the above listed questions, what is your plan to rid Macon County of the drug dealers?
I plan to use every tool in my tool box of 22 plus years experience to reduce drug crime in Macon County. There is very little that I have not done so when I have a less experienced Detective/Deputy assigned to a narcotics investigation I am able to provide guidance on tactics to utilize. Additionally, I agree with one of my opponents when he said Sheriff’s don’t actually do drug investigations. But he does need to be able to recognize when not enough has been done. As Sheriff I will bring to the table a very deep field of experience in combating the drug issue. Each drug dealer or drug location will in all likelihood require a different tactic depending on the facts of the case. There is no one size fits all approach. I will do what a Sheriff is supported to do. I will guide, instruct and motivate my Detectives/Deputies to think outside the box and utilize every tool they have to solve the issue. My job is to get them the tools they need to do the job! The important thing as the Sheriff is to know what tools are necessary to do the job.
I was fortunate this week to have my inspiration for this Monday Musing come from a recent posting from none other than Sheriff Holland. He posted about how proud he was of the three deputies that are running for the Office of the Sheriff position. He mentioned a number of times about how they have sacrificed for their county for many years. Sheriff Holland and I agree on a few things there. I agree he should be proud of his deputies. I agree they sacrifice for the citizens of Macon county. I emphatically agree that the men and women of the Macon County Sheriff’s Office are a very professional group of men and women who do their job every day for an inadequate amount of compensation. I would be just as proud to lead the men and women of the MCSO as I ever was to lead any team in the U.S. Navy! That is about as far as our agreement goes though.
I need to correct a few items of misinformation that the Sheriff mentioned. I also make these observations solely as it pertains to me. As he certainly could be talking about one other candidate aside from me, I believe these comments were directed at me. After all, the four candidates running against me have all served the citizens of Macon county as a member of the Sheriff’s Office.
One of the first statements I take issue with is Sheriff Holland’s statement “these three are the only candidates who have been part of a team.” I was part of a much larger team well before the Sheriff or any other candidate in this race even thought of being part of the MCSO team. I joined team Navy in 1972 during the Viet Nam War and remained an integral part of team Navy until the Gulf War in 1992. It was while a member of team Navy I learned the leadership and people management skills I will bring to the Macon County Sheriff’s Office. While their team was a part of Macon county, my team encompassed Macon county as well as many others in every state and many countries. It was while a member of team Navy I learned service, sacrifice and teamwork. I submit that team Navy was just as important as the MCSO team. My family made those sacrifices right along with me. It appears that in the Sheriff’s opinion, only someone from this county should be chosen to lead the MCSO. Talk about a negative statement directed towards the thousands of Macon county residents who have chosen to move to this great place as well as those who chose to serve this great county and country in the military. Does Sheriff Holland think that we should be heard and not seen or we can’t possibly offer anything to benefit our county just because, like him, we didn’t grow up here.
I do have a confession to make. I do use the word “I” in many of my detailed plans I have put forth. My use of the word “I” is appropriate. When you see my name on the ballot, you are electing me. You are voting for the policies, procedures and proposals I have campaigned on. That being said, it appears he prefers the term “we” because it apparently is what you get when you vote for one of the other opponents. In their case “we” encompasses the policies and procedures that so many citizens tell me need to change. As Sheriff Holland pointed out, “they” have had decades to make or influence the changes that many citizens believe need to be made.
It was noted (several times) that I am running a negative campaign. I will once again ask the question: How do you identify areas which in your judgement need change, without specifically identifying those areas? How do I point out why I am the candidate who can make those changes without indicating who has already been in a position to make those changes? I could be like one candidate who stood in front of a group recently and proudly stated he plans on continuing the same policies and procedures that Sheriff Holland has put in place. I contend this statement is also confirmation that a vote for them is a vote for the same old things (aka good old boy system).
Unlike what has already happened to me, I haven’t personally attacked the Sheriff or any of his leadership team. (In the other candidates defense, it wasn’t them who made disparaging remarks to me.) I merely point out they need improvement and how it can done better with the right Sheriff at the helm. That is what detailed plans do based on proven experience. I have put forth a number of very detailed plans based on my decades of leadership and experience. Granted, some of these proposals need the cooperation of other leaders within our county but I and my leadership team can and will enact the others if I am elected. Invariably that team will also include some of my opponents.
Here is my positive vision. I see the potential for the men and women of the MCSO to grow, both professionally and personally. I see the MCSO being ran in a much more efficient manor which will benefit the citizens of Macon county. I see the increased transparency which will build trust in the MSCO. I see leadership having the authority to do their jobs and making the MCSO a stronger unit. I see streamlining the organization to ensure a more efficient office to save the taxpayers money. I envision the development of an assessment process to choose the best and brightest leaders for those leadership positions as opposed to the good old boy system of promotion currently in place. I see the ability to recruit and retain the best recruits available. I have laid out plans for every one of those things. You as a citizen of Macon county should take a look at “their” proposals on those same things. If you can find them. I will continue to put forth proposals and more importantly solutions. I have more experience and leadership than any of my opponents.
What we are now seeing is the pressure that detailed proposals put on the other candidates. What we are seeing is confirmation that a vote for one of the other candidates is a vote to continue the same policies and procedures that are in place now. We are told that the candidates can’t speak about their plans because they are currently working for the MCSO. I believe that is inaccurate. They can’t speak to their plans because there are none. If the citizens want the same old thing, then they should certainly vote for that. The citizens I meet on a daily basis frequently tell me it is time for a change. How is keeping the same thing doing anything different?
In closing, I could do what the Sheriff has proposed and just talk about my qualifications (which I have done several times). Then what do we talk about after that? How does that address the concerns that the citizens of Macon County have. I have not had one person tell me they don’t want to hear proposals. I have not had one person tell me that they just want a “nice guy.” They want someone who will stand up to those who seem to get away with anything they want and someone who is not part of the good old boy system. I am not in ANYBODY’S good old boy system. That is what happens when you are leadership tested and experience proven!
Thank you Sheriff Holland for the Inspiration. I will certainly refer back to your points over the next few months.
This week I want to discuss some of the most important topics various citizens ask me about as I travel around this county.
The first concern, is the drug situation. Invariably, the citizens know someone who is addicted to drugs or a location where drugs are being sold. I (I know, there’s that word again) am the only candidate in this race who has actually conducted all manners of drug investigations. I have been faced with very complex situations which were always successfully resolved. I have fortunately had experiences, due to where I served, that few law enforcement personnel ever have had the opportunity to participate in. I will bring these unique experiences along with new ideas to Macon county if elected. I will unequivocally state, if you are a drug dealer, we will be coming for you, as well as, the assets you utilize in your illegal activities. Assets seized are regulated under federal law and are restricted to specific areas where we can spend the proceeds. One area I would like to see it spent is on rehabilitation services. I do not expect this to be a huge amount so I will need to be surgical in my approach. Having been declared an expert in the area of drug seizures by the courts I can assure you I have the necessary experience to ensure we leave no stone unturned.
The second concern, is a perception of a lack of responsiveness and not being informed of the results of investigations in which they, or their friends and family are the victims. A program will be established that will dictate which cases the officers will be responsible for investigating as well as which cases a detective must follow up and investigate. This will better allocate everyone’s time to areas where they are better suited to perform. Within this program, there will be required contacts with the victim to provide an update to their case. It will also require officers to inform the victim if their case is being closed, and why. These contacts will be documented and reviewed by their supervisors. My goal is to ensure you as the victim, that you are aware of your rights and the status of your case. In my experience, this type of program has enabled me to see the benefits of keeping our customers (you) happy and informed. I learned my customer service skills while a personnel officer in the Navy, a customer service supervisor with the grocery chain Publix, and a law enforcement officer for twenty two years.
Finally, to ensure the citizens of Macon county know I am their Sheriff, I will take a page from now ex-Franklin Police Chief David Adams. I will visit the various areas of Macon County to obtain feedback from the citizens I serve. You will see me in the Sheriff’s uniform walking around our county or stopping in businesses to chat. I want to be approachable. It is the citizens of Macon county who will elect me and I promise to never forget that. This is what you get with a candidate who is leadership tested and experience proven.(Read More)
Why I am more qualified than another candidate.
The question was asked by Tom Baker
What makes you more qualified to step into the sheriff position than your opponents?
I answered the question but for some reason, it is not showing up on the post even though the count on the number of comments is correct. So I will endeavor to respond again. I am sure it will show up and someone will point out that I didn’t copy and paste it. If that happens, it shows that I don’t go by any script. I answer all questions as they come to the best of my ability.
I served this great country for twenty years and retired as a Chief Petty Officer. As a Chief, I am required to make decisions, sometimes with little time and always with few errors in judgement. I was required to manage those in my charge so that they are responsible, well trained and taken care of. Additionally I was responsible for managing those assets to the accomplishment of the mission and ensuring that it was successful. As a Chief, I was responsible for the efficiency of my environment as taxpayer dollars were in short supply.
Just before I retired from the Navy, I worked part time for a grocery chain called Publix. I was the coordinator for the customer service operations at the front of the store. I was tasked with ensuring the operation ran smoothly as well as making sure the customer was happy with our service.
As a law enforcement I had the ability to work in nearly every area an officer could work. I have different skills than any of my opponents in law enforcement. I have listened to the citizens and when it comes to their primary concerns, I am only one with the experience and leadership to lead that great Organization. I have walked the walk as opposed to talk the talk. That is why you see me posting numerous detailed and well thought out plans and proposals. As your Sheriff, I will be able to recognize when an investigation is less than complete. I will be able to recommend tactics that have not been tried or procedures not done before. I have lived them and know what is successful and what will not work. I alone have this breadth of experience.
When you combine the leadership training and experience I have had in every area of my service as well as my desire to make a difference in the community in which I live, there is not another candidate that can measure up to what I bring to the table. I will bring more transparency, more ideas and more leadership than any other candidate.
In conclusion, due to my tested leadership and proven experience I am the best candidate to lead this great organization.(Read More)
I have been giving some thought to the inmate population. As I have said in prior proposals, I want to do what I can to keep inmate populations manageable. The first thing I would do is sit down with my leadership team and discuss their recommendations on who will be the next jail administrator. Once that person is identified, he or she will be added to any discussion that is conducted in reference to all jail policies.
I have been researching the subject of inmate trustees. The MCSO did have a trustee program but it has been suspended for some time. I would like to look at reinstating it. Of course there would be some changes and strengthening to the current policies. I would make the program apply only to the interior of the jail. Currently there is such a shortfall in personnel that an outside trustee program would not be possible. The benefits of a trustee program are many. A trustee would be utilized to clean the interior of the jail and to perform small maintenance issues that occur. No inmates will be paid for the work they do.
There would be strict procedures that would be required to be followed.
The benefits of using the trustees to include, but are not limited to the following:
- They get a sense of accomplishment.
- It makes time go by faster for them.
- They have incentives to follow all of the rules.
- It gives inmates some structure to their day.
- I give them time outside their cell.
To quote Sheriff Holland, “The average individual person in our community works 2,080 hours a year in a full time paid position plus benefits that come with being an employee. So, with the use of inmates who are often referred to as “TRUSTEES” this means it would take NINE full time paid individuals to replace what “TRUSTEES” do for free for the citizens of Macon County.” I believe this is a significant savings and with some changes, the program could work. This is in line with my pledge to run the office with increased efficiency and never forget this is taxpayers money.
I am trying to reduce the amount of time it takes to read these informative proposals. If you are interested, I have more to share on this subject.(Read More)
This week I want to continue on my proposals for inmate programs. I have discussed in my detailed plans and proposals for the law enforcement side of the MCSO many times.
I have said a number of times that I see no real benefit to continually arresting the same addicts over and over. To that end I have been researching the Medication Assisted Treatment Program (MAT). This program allows those arrested to continue with their prescribed treatment to prevent withdrawals from addiction. The MCSO is one of the participants in the MAT program but only on an outpatient basis at the current time. I understand that there was an attempt to have inpatient (in-house) MAT treatment but as of yet hasn’t been instituted. If I am elected, I would pursue this program as I feel it will save the citizens of Macon county valuable tax money in the future and cut down on the re-arrest rate..
There are many benefits to allowing an inmate to continue to take medically prescribed drugs to assist in the withdrawal process. If we are allowed to participate with in-house treatment, it would require us to get through a lot of red tape. There would be strict procedures like there are with any other medications that are administered.
Currently if an inmate is booked and has been taking methadone, he stops getting it and this causes him to go through withdrawals. However, according to a 2009 National Institute of Health on Drug Abuse study, many inmates return to previous levels of abuse not realizing they can’t tolerate it. Federal data shows that 85% of prison populations either have a substance abuse issue or was arrested for crimes related to drug abuse. An inmate that is forced to go through the withdrawal process is 40% more likely to overdose once they are released from jail.
Buncombe county Sheriff’s Office uses a system similar to MAT and has seen a 17% reduction in repeat offenders. We have a daily population of at least 75 inmates. If we were able to reduce even 10% of our population with this program, it could be a significant savings for Macon county. Additionally, this is a huge benefit for those inmates who are trying to break the addiction cycle.
The CDC provides guidance on how to implement this program. There are a number of grants available to deduct any costs associated with administration of the MAT. So before the usual naysayers begin, yes I know we may or may not get a grant. Yes I know the county commissioners must approve a grant. I also know we must have a plan of where to start and if you don’t have a plan then you are voting for the process as it was. The jail is overcrowded inmates who are not allowed to continue this treatment is one reason the same people are placed in the system over and over.
Look for more on this subject in the future.
It is this forward, out of the box thinking that I bring to the table because I have been leadership tested and experience proven.
This Monday I would like to discuss inmates again. But this is a certain category of inmate. I am referring to those who have served our country in the military.
If I am fortunate enough to be your Sheriff, I will be directing my Jail staff to develop and implement a policy directed at those who have served our country, but have for some reason fallen. Many of our veterans that end up in our system suffer from various mental health, medical, addiction or homelessness issues. I want to make sure they are offered the assistance they bought with their service.
After speaking with the Veteran’s Service Office (VSO) folks, I was informed they feel it would be helpful if an inmate was asked the question “have you ever served in the military?” If they answer in the affirmative I will direct a call be placed to the Veteran’s Service Office by the on duty jail staff (voicemail will be left if after hours). They will be provided with the name and branch of service of the inmate so they may be able to begin the process to determine what, if any, services they qualify for. They advised they would visit the inmate to determine any service related issues and begin the process to submit claims if appropriate.
I was advised that there is a program for those veterans who are homeless called U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD-VASH) Program. This is a program where vouchers are available to assist the vet in obtaining housing. This is one of the programs the VSO’s may be able to offer a veteran. If we can reduce the revolving door of crimes some inmates seem to be stuck in, the citizens of Macon county will be the winner as a result of reduced costs and crime.
This is an example of how we as a forward thinking Sheriff’s Office can show compassion for those in our system while ensuring we are upholding the law. Reducing our overburdened jail population while ensuring our county is the safest it can possibly be is what being leadership tested and experience proven is all about.