Surry Sheriff candidates take part in election questionnaire

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: October 26, 2019 | 3:45 p.m. 

SURRY – Ahead of the November 2019 General Election, The Sussex-Surry Dispatch afforded candidates in contested races the opportunity to take part in a short questionnaire where they could all answer the same questions and have their responses printed for prospective voters.

Candidates received the questions during the same 24-hour window earlier this month with a deadline of October 17 at 5 p.m. for their responses and a headshot to be returned. The questionnaire was distributed to candidates digitally and sent to the email addresses that were on file in recent Virginia Department of Elections candidate records. If a candidate did not have an email address listed, phone calls were made to the candidates to request their email address so they could receive the questionnaire.

Below are the unedited answers of the Sheriff candidates who took part in the questionnaire and provided their responses by the October 17 deadline.

1 – Why are you seeking election or re-election to local office?

Roderick Barbee – As a life-long resident of Surry County, I care about the welfare of our citizens. I have been involved in the county’s emergency services for more than 30 years and was a dedicated county deputy for six and a half years. Because of this experience I have a deep knowledge of the community’s needs. Surry has played a vital role in the person I have become. My interest in Surry County comes not from a place of political gain, but from a desire to build the safety and security of our community. The high turnover rate of Surry County deputies in the recent past has weakened our sense of community and I pledge, if elected, to put in place a solid, knowledgeable police force that will not turnover every few months. We will address the needs of our community in a timely and fair manner. I have made contact with citizens who believe their current problems and concerns have not been addressed either at all or not in a timely manner. The leadership skills I have acquired and developed in my previous positions, combined with my work ethic and determination, will allow me to be an effective, open-minded sheriff.

Carlos Turner – I would like to continue the progress we have started. I, along with my hard working staff, have served Surry County well over the past 3 1/2 years as Sheriff. The Sheriff’s Office has received an award for our traffic safety initiatives. Several of our deputies have received awards for their hard work and the initiatives to keep Surry County safe under this administration. We have lowered the crime rate by our proactive patrols. We have accomplished much of this with our crime prevention programs, and the increased interaction with our citizens and businesses within the county. We have established a culture of communication between the sheriff’s office and the community. We have worked hard in solving crimes and catching those who commit them. The trust and positive relationship we are building in the community is continually growing. Under my leadership, the sheriff’s office has received a number of grants totaling over $100,000. We have given $1000 scholarships to local high school students. We have implemented new community based programs to keep our community safe. I want each of you to know that as your sheriff, I will always strive to provide Surry County with a professional, honest well-trained sheriff’s office that is unbiased in enforcing the laws and committed to protecting and serving each of us. I am whole-heartedly invested in Surry County and want what’s best for everyone.

2 – What experience do you have that qualifies you for this office?

Barbee – As a former deputy in Surry County, I built knowledge of the department’s daily operations and gained vital experience and skill from former Sheriff Alvin Clayton. He trained me to strive for my personal best. Prior to serving as a deputy, I was employed in a number of leadership roles in the public and private sectors. In these leadership roles I worked from the ideal that it is better to have a “we” environment not a “me” supervisory role. I will never ask my staff to do something that I, myself, would not do. I will serve alongside my officers to complete the work set before us. To be a successful leader one must take time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of his staff. It is the job of an effective leader to build a strong team by highlighting the strengths and training up the weaknesses. In addition to local experience, I also have been trained in the National Incident Management System which is the gold standard for emergency management and response. This training allows me to lead a unified command center, as well as understand and function within a larger system should conditions warrant.

Turner – When I was a child I was inspired to be a police officer, so I prepared myself for that aspiration. I attended college and obtained my higher education degrees in criminal justice. I completed the police academy in 1998; I now have 21 years of Law Enforcement experience. I have worked hard to prepare myself to serve successful as your sheriff. I have knowledge of the best law enforcement practices, procedures, requirements and working knowledge of the sheriff’s office administrative principles. I served on the Riverside Regional Jail Authority Executive Board, Crater Criminal Justice Training Academy’s Executive Board, Riverside Community Criminal Justice Board, Virginia Sheriffs’ Association Legislative Committee, and Surry County Highway Transportation Committee. As the current sheriff, I have the experience with all administrative aspects of running our sheriff’s office: budgeting, policy development and implementation, hiring, training, civil process, court security, and Local, State, and Federal inter-agency collaboration. Not only do I have the administrative experience, but also assist in working on patrols and investigations. I am a working sheriff. I enjoy getting out and working on the front lines with the deputies who serve and protect us every single day. I’m invested because I love Surry County.

3 – If elected/re-elected, what are some of your priorities once in office in the areas of crime prevention and law enforcement?

Barbee – My first priority is to establish a community steering team. This team will be comprised of citizens from each district in Surry County. They will be invited to observe the operational practices of the department. Team members will be asked to participate in ride-alongs with deputies. This will give citizens a better understanding of the duties of our staff, and will develop transparency and build trust within the community. The team members will be tasked with collecting feedback from their districts and through that input we will be able to identify areas of concern. This relationship is an important part of crime prevention and law enforcement. Once all of this data is collected and organized, we can review policies and procedures of the department and make the necessary changes to benefit both our team and the community. The citizens of Surry deserve professional and proactive law enforcement, not the mindset that what is happening is just “good enough.”

Turner – School safety – I would like to continue to see our deputies involved in our schools. With the perception of imminent danger, our schools have become commonplace in many communities, leaving parents, students, and school personnel with, at best, a tenuous sense of security. Active intruder scenarios are a big concern to some I have talked with. Having deputies other than our School Resource Officer to continue their routine patrols at the schools will help foster relationships with school staff and increase the extra presence of law enforcement on school grounds, which can help reduce school violence. We have and will continue to take a stance against drugs in Surry County and will continue proactive measures to fight those who intend to sell them in our county. We will continue to work with the State Police drug taskforce and their enforcement efforts. Some of our efforts include educating our youth, with informative seminars on the opioid overdose epidemic. We will continue the use of Narcan by our deputies when they encounter an individual who have overdosed from opioids. Also, staffing is a priority. This is a problem facing the entire law enforcement industry nationwide. It’s becoming more and more difficult locating, hiring and retaining good candidates. We are finding many are not passing the background process and others can’t keep the high standards we have set for the sheriff’s office. The new standards we have set, will not be lowered which would damage the excellent reputation we have worked hard to maintain in the community and across the State. We are always looking to hire honest and hard working staff for our agency, but will not compromise our law enforcement values and ethics. We will continue to work with the Board of Supervisors for competitive salaries which will also enhance our staffing and retention needs.

4 – If elected or re-elected, what will you do to foster strong bonds between law enforcement and the community?

Barbee – Strong bonds with the community are built through effective communication. Effective communication is built through interaction within the community. That interaction is a two-way street. Officers should not wait for the citizens to reach out to them, because more often than not, that type of communication is a reaction to a negative situation. It will be the job of my deputies and me to reach out on a day-to-day basis by checking in not only on businesses and churches, but also neighborhoods, young people, and the elders of our community. This is the proactive philosophy that we will live by so that when a need arises the relationship and trust will already be in place. This community outreach also will give our officers the opportunity to assess threats as well as identify needs.

Turner – I saw an opportunity at the sheriff’s office to make a difference in the community and that still holds true today. I will continue to be active in the entire community as I have been consistently for many years. I am not one who shows up at steak dinners and other community events because I’m running for an elected position. I show up consistently, because I care and support our community. Our deputies show up because they care about our community. We, as a sheriff’s office being heavily active in the community, have been given the opportunity to build great relationships with community groups and citizens. We know that working together as a community, we can continue to build strong bonds and make those responsible for crimes accountable for their actions. We already have many great community related programs going on in the sheriff’s office that we will continue — and expand upon what’s already working, and implement new programs as needed to better serve the community. I am proud of our record of service and accomplishment and we will continue to serve you with the highest commitment to honesty, integrity and public service.

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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