West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

#62-Interview with Mike Chapman-Democratic Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn more about Mike Chapman, his previous management and law enforcement experience and his views on issues facing law enforcement in Jefferson County WV.

Listen to the Podcast

Mike Chapman Interview Excerpts

Mike Chapman: Hi. Good morning Mr. Urban and all your viewers. Thanks for having me on the show today. I really appreciate it. I am Mike Chapman. I’m the Democratic candidate for Sheriff. I’m probably a little different than the other candidates in the field. I was a reserve deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years. I logged a lot of volunteer time in a police cruiser, doing by my best to make the citizens of Jefferson County safe. I served under three different Sheriffs. I’ve seen three different management styles of the organization. But my primary bread and butter, so to speak; throughout my life, I’ve been involved in information technology, business and finance. I’m an entrepreneur. I have owned a few small businesses over the years. Still do actually. I also own a farm out on the South end of Jefferson County. I think that basically, I’ll bring a unique perspective to the office. One, I do have the law enforcement experience. I do know what goes on inside the sheriff’s office. I do have some experience with all that. But the fact that I spent my entire career in the private sector, where in order to survive, you have to make things more efficient, more cost-effective and more customer service friendly.

Those are traits that you do not see in government, generally speaking. Not always. I don’t want to be too over dramatic with it, but a lot of times in law enforcement, we’re missing some of those things. So I think that once I get in office and I take a good hard look at everything and do a complete process analysis, complete needs assessment. We’ll find some opportunities to save the tax payers’ money, to be more responsible to the voters, to provide a higher level of customer service to people that have to react with the Sheriff’s office. And hopefully, just provide a total better service to the community while providing a better experience to the employees that work under me.

Richard: Can you clarify for myself and the viewers, what do the reserve officers do? Have you ever made an arrest, for instance? Or is it more like direct traffic or is it much more involved than that?

Mike Chapman: It sort of depends on the Sheriff, as to how much leeway he gives them. It also depends on the deputy that you might be working with at the time.

The reserves have an academy with about 200 hours of training. They are trained in Tasers, pepper spray, take down tactics, hand cuffing. They assist deputies with arrests. At least in my day they did. I assume they still do. I’ve rolled around on the floor with the subject trying to apprehend him along with the deputies. You’re very much involved. We transport prisoners. We take them to arraignment, take them to prison. We help process the paperwork on DUIs. We do direct traffic when there’s a catastrophic event, something that might down the highways. We’re extra manpower, extra eyes and ears in the community. A lot of the things we do, for example, I think a DUI arrest might take several hours to process. And that will also include a trip to the Regional Jail. So we’ll take some of those responsibilities off the deputy to get them back out on the street faster. So we’re sort of a force multiplier for the sheriff’s department.

Richard: And that’s a volunteer position, so you’re giving your time.

Mike Chapman: Yes. And I was involved in that early on. I was one of the people that helped form the organization and make it what it is today.

Richard: I notice about the training academy, they said it’s one of the, maybe the only one in the state or something.

Mike Chapman: A lot of the counties, local counties will send their officers here for training, because we do have such a great program. Ours is the model program for the state of West Virginia.

Richard: What do you think right now is the greatest issue for law enforcement in Jefferson County?

Mike Chapman: That’s a two-part question for me.

The biggest issue as we see it immediately is the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis drives so many other things. To an extent, human trafficking. To an extent, healthcare, because we’re seeing upticks in hepatitis, HIV, because of things that are going on in and around the opioid crisis. It’s destroying families, it’s creating despair. It’s definitely a problem. But what I see as an even potentially bigger problem looming on the horizon, if you’re following the news, the national rhetoric against police officers, de-funding the police. It’s driving down morale. We’re seeing in New York that there is a mass exodus of police officers from New York City. They’re retiring, they’re quitting.

Has it happened here yet? No. Are the guys and girls in law enforcement feeling it? Yes. A lot of them want out. And even before this, recruitment nationally for law enforcement officers is down by 60%. Used to advertise, you’d get 100 applications. Now you’re getting locally, you can get 10. It’s a problem, it’s a real problem. And so what scares me is, at some point, you’re going to lose your talented police officers because they’re educated, they’re smart, they can get another job. You’re going to lose them, and there’s nobody to back fill them because nobody wants to go in law enforcement. The younger generation didn’t like it, that idea, anyway, they’re not jumping in to fill the seats, and everybody else is, why would they subject themselves to what they’re hearing?

Richard: If I might ask the question. Okay, so I saw your post about the New York City Police Department and the patrol officer just quit. And I know hundreds of other officers have quit. The patrol officer, chief or director or whatever the title is. But the conundrum I see is, the Democratic Party and the Democratic Mayor De Blasio, he’s causing a lot of these issues and the whole kind of nexus between the Democratic Party and the defund the police movement. I know yourself you clearly indicate you’re not for that, but your party seems to be leaning that way. Can you address that?

Mike Chapman: I can’t speak for the Democratic Party. Listen, there’s a lot of labels that I used to define myself. I’m an American, I have to leave in the constitution 100%. I understand on the West Virginian. I’m a husband, I’m a brother, I’m a son, I’m an entrepreneur. Somewhere down on that list, way down is the label Democrat. I am a part of the party, but I don’t understand the national objective. I really don’t know what they’re trying to achieve by forcing his rhetoric on us. Because, I don’t know that many people that really want to de-fund the police. I have met a few locally, I have. But it seems to be very much a minority. Because what’s going to happen when you call 911 if there are no police officers to take the call? I don’t want to live in that world.

Richard: On the question of the big issue of the opioids, and you were mentioning on your website or Facebook about also a multi-pronged approach or reducing demand. I know specific you mentioned that. What could be done to reduce demand? How do you see that?

Mike Chapman: Sure, sure. First thing about opioids is that it knows no socio-economic boundaries. It can happen in any family. It just can. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what race you are. What I see is part of the problem is the supply-demand equation. As long as there is a demand for the product, there’s going to be a supplier. We catch the supplier, we take down, we disrupt the network for a little while. Somebody else comes back in to fill it because there’s demand for it. So, we have to find a way, and I know that once you’re on opioids, it’s almost impossible to get off. It’s a life-long addiction. I know all that. But, the point is, if we do nothing, we’re not going to make any progress at all. So we have to do something. If we can only save 10% than that’s still worth it. But what we do now, we catch people with drugs or we catch people who have committed a small property crime to get drugs, and we put them in jail for a while. And we don’t really cure then, we don’t fix them, we don’t make anything better. We pay $50 a day for them to sit in jail, and then we release them back into the world, still addicted. Still, whatever the underlying problem that may have led to their addiction is still there, if it’s mental health, whatever it may be.

So what I would propose is that we try to fix them, as best we can. We try to help them, and we have a day report Center in town. It obviously has limited capacity. The treatment is funded largely through insurance companies. So it alleviates the jail bill. The insurance picks up the tab for the treatment. It’s expensive to send them through that, but the idea is first we treat the chemical addiction, then we try to treat the underlying condition that may have caused the chemical addiction, then we try to re-integrate them back into society. Give them some job training. There’s some employers locally that are hiring people out of that program. And try to make them productive citizens, again, give them a reason to be proud. The current system of just putting addicts in prison because they were holding drugs and they got caught and they go to jail, now they have a drug addiction and a criminal record, that’s not really helping them, so we have to do something different…

Richard: On another topic. We’ve had the governor’s mandates for COVID-19. Then we know that some businesses locally in Jefferson County, at least a couple, and others, and I know in Martinsburg, there’s a barber shop where the gentleman said he wasn’t shutting down. Presumably these could or have escalated where the Sheriff’s Office might be sent over or maybe Martinsburg actually it’s the police, but in any case as an example, so to say, ‘Hey look, you have to shut down’. Would you enforce those kind of COVID 19 regulations? Or even they could involve wearing a face mask. I was at the Moulton Park on a Memorial Day. It was closed. I was going to have a picnic with a friend. It was closed. The signs said it is not open. In fact, they removed the picnic tables. So presumably, someone could have said ‘Hey, don’t congregate here’, or even arrest you. How would you handle those kind of mandates? Are those constitutional? What would you do?

Mike Chapman: Well, let’s take the face mask. I don’t see the Sheriff’s office being able to enforce masks. We have a 32-33 deputies and they are all not on duty at one time. At any given time, there’s four or five out on the road. We have 56-ish thousand citizens. We are a tourist economy that has three million visitors per year. We don’t have enough deputies to do the law enforcement jobs that we have now, let alone try to tackle 3 million plus 56,000 people who may or may not be in compliance with mask law. I think this is, at best, it’s the responsibility of the Health Department to enforce. It’s also the responsibility of private businesses to handle on their own. I’m a little, in some ways, shocked at people that fight the mass thing so much. My entire life, I’ve been involved in things. Like, I’m an IT guy that worked in a factory. When I went out on a factory floor I had to have steel toed boots, hearing protection, eye protection. In certain areas a hard hat. Safety equipment is part of many, many, many jobs. If you play sports you are required to wear safety equipment. The mask thing to me is, I just wear one if they want me to, and that’s it. But I understand people who don’t want to do that. I understand some people can’t do that. But, it’s up to the businesses to enforce that, and if someone demands to come in without a mask and their policy is that you must have a mask, it’s within their right to deny service to the customer that doesn’t want to comply.

And if that situation that comes escalated, then we’ll step in and remove them because they at that point will be trespassing. But just to walk around and tell people or site people for not wearing a mask, we’re not going to do that. As for the gathering, if the park was officially closed and the owners of the park, is that publicly owned?

Richard: No, that’s County. That’s Moulton Park.

Mike Chapman: They may have closed the park. But no one was really interested in enforcing that. The Governor himself said people should be outside and doing things. And so if you were outside using public grounds for family activity, I have no problem with that whatsoever…

Richard: As we come toward a conclusion, why would the voters especially choose you versus your three or supposedly four opponents? What will be your distinguishing points?

Mike Chapman: Well, I’m the best candidate for the job. That’s a good reason to pick me. I bring a different perspective. The guys with law enforcement experience, to be a law enforcement officer minimum requirements are, high school diploma and 14 weeks at the academy and some on the job training. And I’m not speaking about specifically the other candidates, but just generally speaking. So, you can come up through the ranks and run a police department based on that without a broad scope of other world experience. And your knowledge is sort of pigeon-holed into that area. I think what I bring to the table above and beyond the other guys is that broader range of experience. Other ideas, ways to do things faster and more efficient. I’ve got some ideas and I don’t really want to go into the detail of them yet because they’re so, I’ll call them state-of-the-art, that the state code doesn’t even address whether it’s legal to do it or not. So I’m going to have to get a legal opinion on how to do some of these things to help improve the processes in the Sheriff’s office. I think that also having been in private sector, managing people, Sheriff’s office is king of definitely a chain of command king of organization, and it needs to remain so.

But what happens is, police officers who have done this forever, they become a little jaded. They definitely, they see the worst in society, and they see the best people quite often when they’re having the worst day of their lives. So, they’re a little jaded. They don’t always think in terms of more modern management and leadership styles. And I think this Sheriff’s Office needs an injection of that. We need to empower the deputies and the supervisors of the deputies. We need to provide them more competitive things to help make their jobs better, like training, for example. We have one guy that’s trained in action reconstruction. We’ve got two detectives. Why not train more people? If I find out that Officer X wants to be trained in accident reconstruction, because that’s something they’re really passionate, really want to do, I should be able to provide that training to them to further their career for their knowledge. And also just give them a better experience while they work there. Plus, when you only have one guy that involved in a discipline, if he moves on, then we have no one. So we need some bench strength. I think that also some of the things I bring to the table with that broader experience is like recruiting. We recruit deputies now by put an ad in the paper and an ad on Facebook. And we’re not drawing a broad base. We have no minority representation whatsoever.

So when I recruit deputies, I’m going to use, borrow from my business experience. What do we do? We partnership with educational institutions. We’re going to partnership with Shepherd College and catch their criminal justice majors. Blue Ridge technical Community College. Even Jefferson High School. There are students there taking forensics classes right now and Washington High School as well. So if we actually partnership with these organizations and try to recruit these kids that have a propensity for law enforcement type backgrounds, and then plan our testing around graduation time so we catch them first when they’re right out of school. And reach out to them to invite them to the testing, personally, maybe even have job fairs, if necessarily. Do something more than just an ad in the paper. And I think we can get a better pool we are picking from. We can also diversify our workforce a little bit.

Richard: You mentioned you’re in IT, do you work for a larger company, have your own business? Just tell us a little more about that.

Mike Chapman: Both, actually. My primary job in IT, I worked for a local company, there’s no longer here, Royal Vendors. The largest budget I ever managed just for IT was $3 million. Now, Royal Vendors, the world headquarters was here in Kearneysville. But we had plants in Mississippi once upon a time. Tennessee, Arizona. And of course, there we a plant in Missouri. It was an incredible place to work. I rode the upswing from $70 million to a $300 million company, and then I wrote it back down again as they started divesting of other locations. To add to that, we also had sales offices in Canada, Mexico, Australia and Europe. So it was a global IT network that I managed. And then on the side, I had a contracting in business. I did IT work for daycare, for healthcare. I did work for other manufacturing companies. I did work for construction companies, I did work for property management companies. I always just had kind of a sideline there. I’ve owned a few other businesses along the way, including a commercial property maintenance company, and property management company, which I still own.

Richard: Any concluding thoughts you’d like to share?

Mike Chapman: Basically, I am definitely the right candidate for the job. I’ve got the experience in finance to manage the budget. I think this year we’re fine with the CARES Act propped up the County budget, but at some point, we’re going to be in trouble. Because video lottery revenues are down, hotel and motel taxes are down, and table games revenues down, property taxes seemed to be on the increase or they soon will be because houses are selling like crazy. And I’m hearing from my realtor friends that they’re getting 25% over asking price. It’s going to drive up our property tax revenue. So where we’re going to land, I don’t know. But if we do find a budget shortfall, we’ll figure it out. I’ve got the experience to do budget modeling to come up with ways that very quickly tell what we can do to make the Sheriff’s Department work. If we have to lean it up, we can still provide the same local service to Jefferson County on a smaller budget for a short period of time. I’ve got some ideas for retention. I know, I’ve talked to some deputies. There are various morale problems. I think I can improve it. I’ve already got those plans in place. Basically, we can just provide the citizens of Jefferson County with a higher level of service than they currently have, regardless of the budget condition.

Interview with Mike Chapman-Democratic Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn more about Mike Chapman, his previous management and law enforcement experience and his views on issues facing law enforcement in Jefferson County WV.

West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

#60-Interview with Steve Cox-Independent Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn about Steve Cox’s diverse law enforcement experience and his view of law enforcement in Jefferson County WV.

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Steve Cox Interview Excerpts

Steve Cox: Great, thanks. Thanks for having me on. Again, my name is Steve Cox, I am a candidate for Sheriff of Jefferson County. I’m an independent candidate, which means I am politically unaffiliated, and I’ve been like that since the day that I registered as a voter, so I’m a life-long independent individual. On top of that, my feel about law enforcement is, politics shouldn’t be involved in that arena. So I like the fact that I’m an independent and I’m running for Sheriff using my background and experience.

Richard: Okay, yeah. So right now, here in Jefferson County, what do you think the biggest issue is? Right at the moment for the law enforcement or Sheriff’s department.

Steve Cox: It’s addiction. Hands down. Our drug problem; we’ve had a war on drugs. I think that phrase was kind of coined with Ronald Reagan, so we’ve been going through this war drugs for a very long time. And we’ve been able to do a lot of good things with it, but we can’t get ahead of it. And it’s because of this one component that’s in there, it’s called addiction. We cannot police our way out of the war on drugs, if we continue to ignore addiction. And I’ve been talking about this, and I’ve actually been talking about it for a very long time, much longer, than I’ve even been running for sheriff. If we don’t get a handle on addiction, we don’t help with addiction, and when I say we, I mean the government, we don’t try to help the addiction, we are never really going to make any good solid headway in the war on drugs. Our county, I’m not speaking nationwide, but our county, that is our county’s largest problem. It absolutely drives most of the crime that happens in this county, and I say that with confidence, using my 20 plus years in law enforcement locally and everywhere else, to see that it is our number one issue.

Richard: How did we get here? I work on some health issues, not particularly addiction, like Health Freedom and vaccine choice. There’s some interplay because they involve large pharmaceutical companies. A good percentage of people got addicted to prescription pain killers. What do you think about that? Is that a big factor? Or not really?

Steve Cox: Well, it’s a horrible thing. And it’s true. A lot of this stems from prescribed medicines. We in law enforcement, we know that people will actually jump on an airplane and fly to other states and scoop up a bunch of prescriptions, and I’m talking about a written prescription, back in the old days a written prescription, and they will collect a bunch of these up. They’ll obtain the prescriptions and they’ll come back to West Virginia and sell them. That’s just one method, but that’s something that probably was at least a big thing going back about five to 10 years ago. It was one way, probably a major way, that a lot of that was coming into our area. But prescription drugs is no doubt a huge factor in our addiction problem right now. And when those prescriptions run out, those addicts tend to run over to the illicit side of things and get those ____.

Richard: Since you’re talking about a more holistic approach on your website too, and you can’t really combat it, well, to some extent you can, through arresting people or jailing them. It seems like it exploded in the last decade, right, where this whole prescription drug thing, where they didn’t used to be opioids prescribed. I mean, I guess at least 10 or more years ago than that, and now it’s like we’ve got this huge mess. Should more be done on the legislative side or the business side? Did profit motive cause, at the expense of the health of the society cause a lot of this?

Steve Cox: I would hope that health officials and pharmaceuticals would not have pushed the use of these drugs to gain pure profit. It probably has happened, but that would be a very big issue. And to go back to the legislative side of things, I do think that this is an area, and I’m not for bigger, more government, but I think that is one of those areas where government does exist to make things better for us. And I think that they should get involved and see what we can do about introducing some legislation that would help prevent that problem. However, I will say that the medical field, the doctors themselves making these prescriptions, computer related programs that are tracking prescriptions, have helped a great deal. It’s just not enough. It’s like, telling police that you’re doing a great job, but… we still have a drug crisis. Yes, we all understand this, and I’d like to see that it doesn’t fall squarely always on law enforcement. It’s got to be shared. And that’s where I say addiction, addiction services and that sort of thing. We’ve got to get something done with that, even like you were saying at the legislative side. Why can’t we get some government assistance in legislation that helps with addiction?

Richard: I remember reading not so long ago about the illicit drug prescribers. Some town in West Virginia, I wasn’t here, Jefferson County, they got like 6 million or 60 million or some ridiculous number of prescriptions that it would have been enough for every person in the county to have like 50 pills or something. It was crazy.

Steve Cox: There’s doctors out there who do make money just based on passing out prescriptions. And I’ve heard about these doctors who have issued and millions and millions and millions of pills to a handful of people.

Richard: The profit thing, being in the health freedom, which is kind of another issue, we meaning like vaccination choice, that kind of thing. I’ve seen some nexus that these profit motives can actually go awry.

Steve Cox: I don’t want to throw a bunch of mud at politicians, but I don’t think that anybody is blind. And most all people have seen how politicians pockets get filled with money, even by pharmaceutical companies that are pushing for the wrong reason.

Richard: Campaign donations. That’s definitely a factor. Absolutely. Well, on another topic, with the current COVID 19 situation, there’s been different restrictions put in place by the governor and the health department. I had a funny experience on Memorial Day. I went down to Moulton Par. I live in Shannondale, and decided to have a picnic down there with a friend. I noticed that they had removed all the tables. I thought, why did they waste your money removing all of the tables. Anyway, the point was, the sign said the park was closed. But there were people sitting around anyway, and honestly, nobody was bothering them. Would you, as a law enforcement official, try to enforce dubious mandates? For instance, ‘Okay, this parks closed’, or even, this has happened in other jurisdictions, I know it happened in Berkeley County. Some store said, Okay, well, you know you violated a barber shop, in fact, you violated our mandate. You have to be closed. So presumably the Sheriff would be sent out to close that store. How would you handle things like that?

Steve Cox: Let’s talk directly to the executive orders that came down. There is nothing in these executive orders that allow or give the power to law enforcement to have any enforcement role in that, at all. What we’ve seen locally, for instance, in Shepherdstown, the town council issued orders to the Shepherdstown Police Department. We need to remember that the police departments are run by the elected mayor. So when the council got together, they and the mayor decided that they were going to enforce face mask regulations that they couldn’t necessarily enforce, they decided they were going to use the law of that covers trespassing. If you’re asked to put a face mask on and you fail to do so, they’re going to call the police on you. Can they do that? Well, if you refuse to leave their store, yes, you can be arrested for trespassing. But, we shouldn’t rely on police to police this issue. As a sheriff, if I were to become elected Sheriff, I will not be sending my deputies on calls that initiate from the refusal to wear face masks. I know a lot of people would say that I’m now completely against face mask.

That’s not the issue here. I encourage everybody to wear a face mask I wear then myself. However, it is not going to be something that you’re going to have me responding to. Once you tell people, yes, call us, we’re going to come and make somebody where a face mask, you’re going to get thousands of calls. And I don’t simply have time to enforce face masks. I will not do it.

Richard: Okay, that’s clear.

Steve Cox: To make things clear, if you allow me to get into this a little bit more.

Richard: Sure, go ahead.

Steve Cox: On my Facebook page, you’ll see a writing that I put up many months ago, and it was in response to Shepherdstown’s request to the law enforcement to get involved in this. And I put it out and I actually got a lot of positive comments about it. I had a few that were negative. People, I think, tried to twist it a little bit and talk about the fact that I don’t care about people’s property rights, and that’s a 100% wrong. Because, if you go back maybe a month or so, you’ll see that I’ve made a posting about erecting illegal signs on other people’s property.

Richard: I did see that.

Steve Cox: I pointed this out and tried to explain to everybody what the laws are. And so… No, property rights are property rights, but what I wanted to explain is, shop owners, business owners, you don’t want to get involved enforcing face masks on people. What if there’s a guardian and a child in a store. This child has an issue with wearing a mask, whether it be a disability or something like that. And one of the examples brought to me was a child with Downs’s syndrome. And they were taking the child out to socialize. It’s education, it was life experiences for socializing. Wouldn’t you feel really bad if you were the one that walked up to the parent and said ‘Your kid has to have a mask on to me in my store’, and they said, ‘Well, listen, we’re just trying to do our thing’, they say ‘well leave’ and it gets all heated, that law enforcement shows up and now law enforcement is, ‘Well’. We just took the socialization part of this experience and decreased that child’s social activity and awareness, and we just dropped that level. We just destroyed anything that was even happened that day or maybe many days before that, because somebody called the law enforcement. Or, there’s a case out there where two people in a store got into an argument, and one of the individuals pulled out a knife and stabbed the other person. That turned into a pursuit. Law enforcement got involved. And that individual was so enraged about what happened that they charged law enforcement and law enforcement discharged their weapons and that person is now dead.

And now we have an officer with a death on their hands because of a silly face mask issue that somebody had. How are we going to conduct ourselves, what are we going to think, when that type of situation comes here to Jefferson County, and it becomes a national news issue, and we bring all of that drama and all of that attention down on us, and we have the rioting and all that type of stuff that goes along with these situations. So arguing and fussing over face masks just isn’t worth it in the long run. And as Sheriff, I simply am not going to get involved with it. And shutting down businesses, we saw that right here in Jefferson County. The Sheriff got involved with shutting down a business. What business of the Sheriff’s is that? It’s none. Absolutely none. It’s a health department issue. If, and only when, the health department has an issue and they try to shut that down, and that individual declines to cooperate and they take it to a civil court, and that civil court then renders to me documentation that says, ‘Hey, he has to shut down’, then I will get involved as I’m required to do as a Sheriff in those civil issues.

Richard: It never got that far, did it? I think I know what you’re talking about, like the golf course and the gun range were shut down. I don’t believe any papers were ever filed. That was part of the issue, right?

Steve Cox: There was more issues than, I think, just an executive order from the Governor that came down about businesses and such. But I’d like to point out, that it was the only golf course shut down in the entire state of West Virginia. And Governor Jim Justice, who made the executive order, didn’t shut any of his own golf courses down. I’m not blaming Justice for this, I’m just saying it happened to be the only one that was attacked and the Sheriff had zero, absolutely no reason to get involved with that…

Richard: You mentioned that maybe your second most important issue is more out of the Police Department. And I guess that might interrelate somewhat with the issue of training. Would you do anything different or introduce anything? Would you like to just generally address that issue of morale and maybe the related issue of training officers?

Steve Cox: So I think good leadership coming in will help fix officer morale. I also believe that getting somebody in there that the guys actually know is going to be good for them. Most of those guys, actually, everybody except for two of those deputies working over there, came in during my tenure there in Ranson, maybe just after I started. I can think of maybe two, two guys, Dave Colbert and Foreman, who have been there just a little bit longer, been around law enforcement in Jefferson County, just a little bit longer than me. A familiar face that they worked with and didn’t deal with as administration, will go a long way to increase morale. They’re getting a guy that’s been out there working the streets with them in the past, and I think that’s going to make them, one happy, and they’re going to have a great outlook for the future. So morale will increase. The training aspect of this; so I didn’t go into great detail about who I am and what I’ve done in my life, but my entire adult professional career has been law enforcement. I started back in ’98 as a police officer in Ranson. Actually… before that, back in the early ’90s, I was a Frederick County Sheriff’s Department cadet in Virginia.

I’ve been doing this for quite some time. But we’ll stick to the professional side of things, 1998. I became a law enforcement instructor many years after that, and I actually served with the United States Department of State as a law enforcement instructor. Now, I did that here, across the country and world-wide., There is not another candidate on this ticket who appreciates training as much as I do. This was my full-time job for 10 plus years. I wasn’t a part-time instructor who went back to the station and took calls. I was a full-time law enforcement instructor, you name it. I have instructed in it, I’ve taught it, I’ve written curriculum, developed it and delivered it.

So in law enforcement in West Virginia, there’s a minimum training certification required. Minimum hours, it’s got to cover certain topics. All of that has to be done. Continuing education is also mandated by law, that has to be done. But, the training that is sometimes used as your mandatory yearly training, is the same thing all officers get, year after year after year. And I’m not saying that good repetitive training should be in the future, what I’m saying is the repetitive, free, cheap training that we use to continue to keep our certifications, I’m going to stop that. We’re going to start looking at things like your everyday tools. Firearm control and retention type of stuff. Driving… These guys, some of them have never even been through a driving school before. We have a great facility right over here where I live in Summit Point…

Steve Cox: So that’s one of the things that irritates me, when I hear some of the other guys talk, they say, well, we can get this free money from the government and you can get free training. No it’s not free money from the government. We can apply for grant money. That grant money is actually tax money. Yes, we can do that. And I plan on doing that. We have to do that. Let’s flip this thing back about eight months ago. COVID 19 hit. It shut this county down for three months. The bulk of our money comes from the property taxes. What the percentage is, I’m not exactly sure, but it’s more than what we get from businesses. But if you don’t think three months or a quarter of the year worth of business income into this county isn’t going to hurt, then you’re kidding yourself.

It’s going to hurt. I’ve heard other people running for Sheriff, running for other elected offices, get into this thing and say, we’re going to be just fine. I never thought that for a minute. I said every day that this continues it’s just going to get worse. And we have to start looking at, when does this end? At the end of it, I still hear people say, oh, we’re doing fine. Now, everybody sees that there’s a problem. We had a problem when this thing hit. So we have to figure out how we’re going to provide essential services to this county. I’m not talking just the Sheriff’s office. All of the essential services that we provide, we have to figure out how we’re going to do that. And unfortunately, what I think is going to happen is the non-essential services that we also provide are going to have to take a sideline. People don’t want to hear that. You can’t take that away from me. Well, we have to do. We have to use the money that we do have for the things that we as government police have to provide you.

Richard: It seems like there has to be some trimming all around.

Steve Cox: Absolutely. Everybody has to trim. So a big question is, and I get this a lot. What about manpower? A lot of the officer morale that I’m hearing from other people, is that there’s not enough people at the Sheriff’s office. I don’t believe that is a huge issue in the officer morale. In fact, I think on day one, if I was to walk into that Sheriff’s office, I can provide everything I need to provide with the manpower that I have. I’m going to mix things up a little bit, and that’s going to help with the manpower issues. Well, let’s go back a year, a year ago, this about this time last year, the new budget stuff was being thought of and created, and the current Sheriff asked for 10 new deputies. He hasn’t asked for 10 deputies since he’s been in office, so it was kind of weird that is asking for it in this very last year as sheriff, but he asked for it. Where are we going to get the budget? We have to actually look at trimming what we have to keep what we have. We can’t afford to bring on 10 new guys, it would be great if we could…

Steve Cox: We have some law enforcement experienced candidates, which is great compared to what we’ve had previous. A lot of inexperience and a lot of just absolute no experience in law enforcement. I think what stands me above and beyond what everybody else has to offer this county is the diversity in my experience. I have been a law enforcement officer right here in Jefferson County. I left and worked for the United States Department of State’s Law Enforcement branch as a law enforcement instructor. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. I’ve done it here and world-wide. I’ve held multiple ranks. My jobs have been, for the most part, all inclusive of a lot of different things, and I’m not going to name off all 20 or 30 different things that I’ve ever done in law enforcement, but my diversity is what sets me apart. From that, being a public employee to being a business owner that I currently am, my business itself is wrapped up in law enforcement. It is completely related to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. I spend my work days in the courthouse and at the jail. I have the power of arrest, so even outside of that public paycheck I used to get, my own functioning company, which is not paid for by the government, paid for by individuals that pay me for my services.

Everything about my adult career has been law enforcement, so when we’re talking the Sheriff’s position in particular, and you’re dealing with what is written in the Constitution, his job, criminal, civil and in taxes. I have covered all of those and I’ve been very successful in doing all of those. And if you look at my competition, you’ll see a history of a lot of failed inability to complete tasks and serve their office. You’re not going to find that with me. So come November 3rd, before you get there, do your research. You don’t have to listen to me. I want you to go and do your research, look into each and every one of these individuals and come out of it and tell yourself what you want as a Sheriff and go, check that box. I’m going to be there. And I’m the last one in the column, Cox for Sheriff.

Interview with Steve Cox-Independent Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn about Steve Cox’s diverse law enforcement experience and his view of law enforcement in Jefferson County WV.

West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with John King-Independent Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn about John Kings experience, attitude toward public service and much more in this interview. Richard Urban Show episode #53.

Listen to the Podcast

Excerpts from the John King Interview

John King:  Good Morning, Richard, thank you for having me on your show. I’m so happy to be here today with all of you. My name is John King. I’ve lived in Jefferson County quite a few years now. I retired from the federal government after 32 years with the US Capital Police, where I was a police officer, Special Agent, Supervisor, manager, Did a gamut of things. My last position was a Canine unit with 55 handlers; with a 14.3 million budget. I really want to give back to Jefferson County. The reason I got involved in running for office; when I retired two years ago, I had really intend to go back to work, and Mr. Jack Hewitt and a few people up in the community got together and convinced me to run for office, I told him I would do it, but the condition was I wasn’t going to take a salary from Jefferson County. Public Service to me is about public service, and I’d be honored to serve the people of Jefferson County to the fullest of my abilities.

Richard: From your viewpoint, what do you think are the three or three or so top priorities for the Sheriff here in Jefferson County?

John King: Well, that’s a little bit of a loaded question. I really need to get in there and do a needs assessment and look at the totality of the environment of the entire Sheriff’s Office because, we have the Tax Office, and we have the bailiffs, and we have, of course, the law enforcement, Sheriff’s department, and we have animal control. There are things that will cost money, and are there things that will not cost funding. We really need to go through and look at everything operationally, administratively, and then prioritize things in order to come up with a plan to meet our goals over the next, short-term goals, maybe six months to a year out and long-term, three to four years out. That’s kind of where we are. I really couldn’t give you… I have a couple of ideas of things I know that I think should be done right away, but I really need to get in there and really dig in to make sure I’m doing the right thing for the Sheriff’s office and for the people of Jefferson County.

Richard: A lot of the news is involving, of course, the whole COVID-19 and then the whole different mandates, like The Governor seems to like to make a lot of mandates, like mask mandates and business closures and these kind of things. So, my question as far as how that would pertain to the Sheriff; say there was some kind of orders from the Governor; would you enforce things that would cause business owners to be arrested for not following mandates. In fact, there was a case just brought, I know in Hurricane about some place that allowed their employees not to wear masks. And the Health Department said, No, no. And they were going to shut it down. Would you enforce such kind of regulations?

John King: Well, if you’re talking about the health department, that’s a completely different issue than the Sheriff’s office. The Health Department goes in, for example, if they’re expecting a restaurant or they’re doing their normal inspections, they find a violation, they usually notify, you have so many days to fix or we have to fix it immediately, and they close you down, the only thing the Sheriff’s office is designed to do is to go in and say, ‘No, the business has to be closed’. I know there’s been a lot of questions about the masks. Well, the masks, in a business situation, just like Walmart, any of the stores; the business owners, ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’. The same thing applies to a mask. So if the requirement is you have to wear a mask in the store, and if they don’t wear the mask in the store; the owner asks you to leave; if you don’t leave, then they can call the Sheriff’s Office, they can charge you with trespassing. The Sheriff’s office cannot enforce laws that aren’t legislated and put onto the books and actually in the code.

Richard: What about this situation. In the Spring I noticed that Moulton Park was closed and there were signs up. They even removed the picnic tables; I guess people could have criminal activity by sitting at the picnic table. But anyway, point being, people were still congregating in the park and nobody was bothering them, but theoretically could the Sheriff say, ‘Hey, you know, you can’t congregate here’, or even theoretically arrest those people?

John King: No, you can’t go around and arrest people for things that aren’t on the laws and in the books. You can’t do it. You’ll get sued. I’ve been sued in my career. I was not even in the United States twice when I got sued. So, being a manager and being the Sheriff, you take on all that liability, but you can enforce codes; you can provide recommendations. Basically, people need to be respectful of others, and if people are not comfortable being around you without a mask, then you need to try and go along and be a good citizen with folks. I think the businesses are doing a great job here in Charles Town and Jefferson County, by having people wear masks in the business. I think it’s a good precaution, especially inside.

Richard: One issue that’s relevant here in Shannondale, we’re concerned about the fact that here in Shannondale and vicinity we have over 4000 plus people down Mission Road, and there’s only one northern exit. There’s no way to exit any other way, which causes a possible hazard if there’s an emergency. So, question is, would you support having a southern exit for Shannondale and vicinity to the south?

John King: I think it’s a great idea. I don’t think it’s really the Sheriff’s privy to decide the roads, but I would support anything that would open up the second entrance in there. I think it’s a good idea for the residents, also can provide more fire apparatus and support. One of the things I’d like to see happen up in Shannondale, I’d like to see that substation, that’s up on the mountain be occupied by two deputies Open that back up; put two deputies in there, let them live there for free, and make them the deputies of the mountain, to build a community relationship with the people in Shannondale. I would come up to the mountain at least once or twice a month in the evening, 6,70 o’clock after people get home from work and listen to their concerns…

Richard: What about the opioid and drug crisis in Jefferson County. Is there anything you can say about how you would you handle things, what could or should be done?

John King: Oh, certainly, the drug problem working in DC all the years, I saw the gamut of drug problems and illegal drugs. The end user, unfortunately, is the victim in the equation usually, and what we need to do is use some technology too to help us. In the city, we used a system with cameras and tag readers, so you stage those in critical places in the county, and I don’t want to go too far into the weeds with this, but you’re able to track people through a database back all the way to Baltimore and to other jurisdictions. You start combining technology and where these vehicles are going and who’s operating them. You start setting up association matrixes. That’s the enforcement side of it. The next phase is the treatment, you have things like the daily report and you have, for the Court, to try and get people back into, being their own standalone person in society and getting back, not on their feet, I guess, I’d probably say more independent. One thing most people don’t understand about drug addicts, especially with opioids and the fentanyl, when they get on to these drugs, people think you can weave them off and kind of like you’re doing with alcohol, but what you find is the people generally relapse after six months. Some people will just have to take these drugs the rest of their lives to be able to get back to function normally, not overdose. And not that they’re gonna keep taking that, there’s not really a lot of heroin here it’s mostly the fentanyl mixed with the opioids, but that’s a huge part, just to get those people treatment and get them, because people need that opportunity to come back. The third thing we have to do is to educate people. We’ve got to give them jobs and finding places and trades and things, so that they have a skill set to go out and work. A lot of the skills and people that we have to work, they’re just not there anymore, and we need some trades, need to get these people back and functioning and see progressive, that they’re doing well in society and that they’re self-sufficient.

Richard: I’ve been active in the non-profit sector in abstinence-centered HIV prevention, health education. And also part of our message is not to use drugs and alcohol. I guess there’s multiple aspects. The character aspect, I think, is a really big one. And another one, I guess, is that maybe the over-prescription of opioids.

John King: One of the big problems, too, is you’re seeing a lot more, since the pill factories have shut down in the state, you’re seeing a lot more of the methamphetamine, which is a real bad thing to get into the community. And there’s some technologies to use with drones and different things that can go in and you get the Feds to come in at no cost to the people of Jefferson County. And my thought would be to give them an office here in the city and let them go after some of these heavy duty drugs dealers, not to infringe on the citizens. We want to get them in there and do good enforcement that spreads across state lines to get these people back to the sources…..

Richard: How would you differentiate yourself from the other candidates? Why should the voters choose you instead of one of the other candidates, Republican, Democrat or Independent?

John King: My credentials stand on their own merits. I spent 32 years in the government. I’ve commanded over 100 people at a time. I understand budgeting, I understand the culture. I’ve all the experience in the world to run the Sheriff’s Office, I’m a level three incident commander for FEMA standards. The county needs someone who can make decisions, who has mad proven decisions for decades, and has the confidence of the rank and file not only from the sheriff’s office but from the tax office and the bailiffs, and from animal control. The sheriff’s office is 95% law enforcement, and I have the most experience and most skill sets and education in dealing with any aspect of law enforcement. I was a patrol officer. Like I said, a canine handler canine supervisor, bomb technician, special agent, investigator. I’ve done the gamut in law enforcement. My agency, I came from, had 1800 gun carriers, and we had a $430 million budget, like I said, which I control $14.3 million for canine. That was my last command.

Richard: How would you ensure deputies are properly trained in order to avoid some of the bad situations that get excessive news coverage?

John King: Training is training. Training is how to do a function. I want to educate people. So when I educate people, the purpose is to make them grow and learn about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. I want to bring CIT training here, crisis intervention training. We did it in our agency. A lot of people need empathy out there in the public and putting the bracelets on when someone is the last alternative. You look at the use of force policies. We need to make sure we’re documenting things, that we’re doing all the steps and giving confidence in the public for us and for them. You need to build the bridges, not build walls, and that’s another whole part of community policing that I support. It needs to be out there. We need to be out there in the public. We need to build relationships. And the training, the mental health training is key to dealing with people, it really is. I’ve seen so many people that really were mental duress and they just needed that help. And you need to have the ability to know where to go and get that help. And the Sheriff’s officers is tasked with all the mental hygiene hearings here in the county too. So that’s another whole function of the Sheriff’s office most people aren’t aware of.

Richard: You mean, if someone will be reported by their family or some people for commitment to a mental institution? Is that what you’re talking about?

John King: Yes, if they believe they’re a danger to themselves or others, they’ll have a hearing with an appointed judge to come in and medical people are involved, and they decide whether or not they’re going to be sent somewhere for treatment, and then they put it out in state wide to find out where they’re going to send them for the treatment. Martinsburg, I think has 16 beds. A lot of times, unfortunately, their tasked with taking them down to Huntington, and that’s a long trip down there to get him there and back. And that’s another thing that falls in the sheriff’s office. Just like conservatorships for people, that falls in the sheriff’s office. There’s a whole lot of things more than just the law enforcement aspect.

Richard: Do you know what part of the Sheriff’s office the tax office budget-wise is?

John King: I think it’s about $11 million a year. It’s probably about 15% to 18%. I don’t have my hands on an itemized budget. I wanted to get one, but I couldn’t get Pete to give me one. He didn’t have it ready yet for this year, I guess.

Richard: Anything you’d like to say to the voters in conclusion?

John King: Well, I really just like to tell them that I really look forward to serving the residents of Jefferson County. I love this county, I love the people here. I want to be the community outreach, I want to be the sheriff who’s approachable, that you all can come to with any problems, I’m not in any party. I’m not a Republican, I’m not a Democrat. My loyalty is to the people of Jefferson County. And like I said, I retired two years ago, I’m the0 most current law enforcement person who’s running for office. Some have very little, some have quite a bit. But, when I decided to run for office, it was, like I said, it was Mr. Jack Hewitt, a few people got together, and they thought I was the right guy for the safety and security of the county and the treasury in the county. And when I decided to do this, I said, I will not take a salary, like I said, I’m going to do this for the people, and we’re going to be fair and we’re going to be equitable across the board to everyone, and everyone’s going to get treated with humanity.

Richard: Thank you for joining us today. Everybody get out and vote on November 3rd.

Interview with John King-Independent Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn about John King’s experience, attitude toward public service and much more in this interview. Richard Urban Show episode #53.

West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Tom Hansen-Republican Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

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Tom Hansen Article

Welcome to this June 2 edition of the Richard Urban Show. We present news and views from God’s point of view. We’re very happy to have Tom Hansen on. He’s running as a Republican for sheriff here in Jefferson County. So please introduce yourself.

“I’m Tom Hansen. I am a Republican candidate for nominee for sheriff of Jefferson County, I’m the only candidate running for sheriff with 20 years of law enforcement experience, specifically in Jefferson County, specifically with the Jefferson County sheriff’s office,” Hansen said.

Richard: So what are the three main things you would like to accomplish? What made you decide to run for sheriff? What are you looking to bring to the department? You mentioned your experience but what would be your other plans?

“Well sir, one of the things I noticed is the moral of the department has gone down very badly. I want to re-instill this morale. I also want to re-instill the faith in the sheriff’s office for the citizens. I talked to some yesterday, they say, ‘we never see the police’. And I want to change that. I want them to be seen. I want them be heard and I want them be noticed and I want them to know that the sheriff’s office in Jefferson County, the largest police agency in the county, is there to protect them,” Hansen responded.

“I also want to try to get more manpower for the department, administrative and sworn. When I came on the department in 1995, I was unit 50, the sheriff was unit 40, they were nine other deputies because unit 40 wasn’t there that were on the streets and when I went to work on midnight shift, sometimes at 2 o’clock in the morning I was the only police around in the county. So I know what it’s like to be short of manpower, so I want to try to increase that and make sure that changes,” Hansen added.

“I want to make sure that the communications with the sheriff’s office is open to the public, that people can come talk to me and know that they can really share with us as and we’ll be responsive to their needs, their requirements or their wants,” Hansen said.

Richard: You mentioned having more presence of the department. Well, how do you see that? Do you feel there needs to be a lot more staffing or budget or I guess those kind of changes? Would it depend a lot on getting the budget or can you work with the budget that’s ready there? Do you want to comment on that?

“Right now because of the corona virus or pandemic, whatever you wanna call it, and I’m quite sure it’s going to be a shortage of fiscal availability because the county hasn’t gotten any casino money in 70 plus 80 days now, and they haven’t got it. They’re just now starting to get hotel occupancy taxes again, so it’s going to be tough for a while, but I’m quite sure that there are other ways obtain money,” Hansen said.

Richard: How much more staff do you think is needed?

AUDIO”The department of Justice says, there should be one man minimum for every 1500 residents. The Census Bureau says we have right now about 59,000 people. I think it’s a little over-60 because we do have transient population.  People who work at the race track in the barns area. People at the University. They’re not residents here, but they live here, and so I’m quite sure it’s over 60,000 people in the county so that means we should have 45 deputies. Right now we have approximately 35. So at least another 10,” Hansen said.

Richard: Okay, do you know what percentage of the budget goes toward the tax department?  -because that’s a major function of the sheriff’s office. Right? Collect property taxes.

 “Yes sir.  The budget itself, I can’t say exactly how much does go there. I used to be able to answer because I used to help write their budget. But the major amount of the county’s budget from the sheriff’s office goes to the law enforcement side. But the chief deputy [unclear audio] will have a great working relationship with that I’ve known for years, is able to keep everything on track, is able to keep everything on track.  As far as exactly how much they get now I couldn’t tell you.  I’ve been retired for five years.  But, believe me The tax office is a very important part of the sheriff’s office and myself and the chief tax deputy will be working at hand-in-hand to make sure everything’s working fine there,” Hansen responded. H.

Richard: I know you mentioned you’re a strong supporter of second amendment rights.  if there are so-called “Red Flag” laws, which I know we don’t anticipate here in West Virginia, or that kind of thing, but it’s come up obviously in Virginia, would you enforce those kind of edicts, or not enforce them if they’re not like constitutional?

“Well, let me explain something to you. Mr. Urban, I’m also retired military between my military career and my law enforcement career, I have taken my oath to uphold the Constitution probably about 15 times. The constitution is very important to me and anything that’s unconstitutional, or close to being unconstitutional, I would not have my men enforce. If there’s adjudication, if the individual has been deemed a threat and has been adjudicated in front of a court, not just a hearing in front of a judge that somebody swears he’s violent or whatever, we’ll enforce that. If it’s been adjudicated in front of the courts. ” Hansen said.

“To give you an example, a law enforcement officer was involved in an incident, and had to take deadly force on a subject. The mother went into court and lied, saying she was a member of his family, and felt as though he was a threat because he had guns and it wasn’t only because the sheriff of that county went, I know this man and this is wrong, and I don’t know who this person is, but the judge had already signed the paperwork. That’s unconstitutional to take his second amendment rights away for things like that,” Hansen added.

Richard: To change the topic a little bit related with the current COVID-19 situation, with many different executive orders from the governor and some of them we see come down to our county. I’ve noticed like even kind of crazy stuff, like I noticed the park’s closed and there’s no park benches, in Moulten Park. What I’m trying to say is, so those kind of orders, like theoretically, I suppose like I went to Molten Park on Memorial Day and there were many people there. I suppose, if the officers want to take it to extreme, they could arrest someone, you know. ‘Hey, why are you in the park? It’s closed’. What about orders like that, would you enforce those kind of things?

“Can I make observation? It’s the same thing with the mail in ballot. Okay, we can go to Walmart, we can go to Costco in Frederick or Winchester, or we can go to Sam’s Club in Hagerstown or Frederick. We can go to any story on the area with a mask on, but we can’t go to a park, we can’t go to the courts and have a ballot. Because they felt as though they’re afraid. But he’ll go to Walmart, right? Ridiculous”, Hansen said.

Richard: So I think you mentioned on your website, of course you’re concerned as well about the opioid situation – the whole situation. Do you have any specific ideas about that, like what you could do maybe that’s different or that’s not being done or in general?

“Jefferson County is not an island. We’re not an oasis. We are surrounded. And most of our opioids come from Maryland, Baltimore to be specific. What I want to do is I want to point and sit down with the sheriffs of Loudon and Clark in Washington and Frederick and Berkeley County, either all together or, separately, trying to get a meeting with all of them and set up in the liaison system, where if, say, Loudon County sheriff’s office is doing a checkpoint on the county state line on 340, then we’ll do one up on Route 9, coming into Route 9, so that we try to work with and also do the same thing.” Hansen said.

Richard: Training, I think, you mentioned about training a little earlier. So with the training officers, we see a lot of stuff happening around the country now with the unrest and rioting stuff and it seems like that officer in Minneapolis was known for not being a very good officer, the one who’s accused of murdering like George Floyd. My question simply is, training, do you have any comment about training – the importance. Do you have any comment on it?

“First of all, let me explain. So, unfortunately when we hire police we have to hire from the human race, Hiring police officers take sometimes up to two years. There is a written test, there’s a physical agility test, there is a polygraph test and there’s psychology valuation, the psychological test is a psychological interview. There’s a background investigation. There’s a medical evaluation. There’s academy training, and then there’s six months of field training officer training where they’re riding around with a seasoned officer. And during those times, we do our best to try to weed out bad ones. Something that pops up, ‘this isn’t good’, and let’s stop him right here. But sometimes they slip through the cracks.

Richard: So we are coming towards the close here, I know you’re running against Steve Harris on the Republican ticket. So why would the voters choose you versus Mr. Harris? How would you really differentiate yourself?

“Well, I know the Jefferson County sheriff’s office, I know the citizens of Jefferson County. I’ve been here for 25 years and I’ve been associated in law enforcement for 20 of those years, here in Jefferson County. And there are a lot of people here that know me. I was the school resource officer Jefferson high school from 99 to 2000….   And so I’m known in the county, but I know the workings of all the departments in the sheriff’s office.  The animal control, the tax office and the sheriff’s Law Enforcement Division. I know them, I know how it works and I know West Virginia law. I know about chapter seven, which is the hiring, firing and disciplining of a deputy and I know how it works. And no one is better fitted for the sheriff’s office than me. So that’s pretty much what I want to say,” Hansen said.

Richard: Any other closing thoughts?

“Well, I’d like to say this. I have been endorsed by Patrick Morrisey. My campaign is endorsed by Patrick Morrisey, the chief law enforcement officer of this state. If that doesn’t tell you who’s the best candidate nothing does. And I’ve also been endorsed by the Tea Party and We the People of West Virginia. And that tells you that I’m conservative. So I think those two points, right there would tell you that I’m the best candidate,” Hansen concluded.

Interview with Tom Hansen-Republican Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn more about Tom Hansen and his views on constitutional issues, community relations, drug enforcement and more.

West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Steve Harris-Republican for Sheriff-Jefferson County West Virginia

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Steve Harris-Article

Good morning. Welcome to this edition of the Richard Urban show where we present news and views from God’s point of view. I’m your host, Richard Urban. Today, we’re very happy to have Steve Harris on. He’s running for Sheriff of Jefferson County. So please introduce yourself.

Good morning, thank you Mr. Urban for this opportunity to speak to your listeners.

My name is Steve Harris and I’m a candidate for Jefferson County Sheriff. I’m a native born and raised West Virginia candidate and my wife and I first moved to Jefferson County back in 1990.

I am a retired law enforcement professional and I am the candidate with the most total years of experience as well as the most years of experience in a variety of specialty skills.

I’m also a constitutional candidate for sheriff, which means that I will protect citizens, constitutional rights to and including the Second Amendment, the Sheriff of Jefferson County must be professional fair, honest and have integrity, all of which are the backbone of my candidacy. The sheriff must be friendly, approachable, with the residents.

Richard: you’ve been in the county since 1990. I know that you had quite a bit of experience in different counties, like in Prince George’s County and other places. So what prompted you, what are the main reason or three main reasons you’re running at this time, what prompted you to run right now?

“One of the biggest areas that I have a problem with is the erosion between law enforcement and the community. That has bothered me.

I was born back in Harrison County, West Virginia. I always had the utmost respect for law enforcement. There was a lot of communication, back then it was much different. You didn’t have all the patrols inside of a cruiser that you do now. Basically, that was the very beginning to community policing. We didn’t know it.

So my thing is I wanna restore the communication, the understanding and the support of the community along with law enforcement. We need to be a partner in this fight against crime. It’s not a one-man job, it’s the entire community. And one of my things within my plans within my community policing, is that as the sheriff, I will get out into the community. Come to you, get out of my chair at that office, come out to you and meet with you in your community, and I will ask you, What’s the problems and we’ll have real discussion of what the problems have been, in the past, what the problems are today and what we see as the roles to fix it for tomorrow.

Richard: I live up here in Shannondale, and usually we don’t see anybody around. Not that that’s bad, necessarily. As far as the patrols. How would this work in say in Shannondale, for instance? How would this kind of liaison work? What would you do?

Well, I would find somebody within the community itself, to act directly as liaison between me and the community itself. whether that’s a person that would step forward to want to do that, or the people of Shannondale say, “Hey let’s get behind this guy, or this lady and see if they will step up and be a partner with the sheriff and to ensure that we need to get the things done in Shannondale that we want.”

I live in Shannondale. I know exactly what you’re talking about.

I noticed on your materials, you were saying you wouldn’t enforce any unconstitutional Red Flag laws or Second Amendment type laws like that, should they ever be passed. Is that right?

That’s correct and everybody out there can hold me to that. That is a promise. There are a number of counties, or not in so much counties within our state, but counties surrounding us, that have put those kind of laws on the books. Then cities. I don’t see that happening right now, here in West Virginia. I know there’s a push for it, but as the county sheriff I’m a constitutional officer.

My obligation is not only to enforce the laws of our state, and our county and our country but it’s also to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are not violated.

Now there’s a conversation as to whether or not, the Governor, well that was an unconstitutional act and this and that. Law enforcement as a whole, whether you’re a sheriff, a deputy sheriff, a state trooper, a city police officer. There’s a lot of discretion in law enforcement. And a lot of times it’s up to the leader of that particular agency to determine what discretion gets used. We recently here in Jefferson County, had two areas that were shut down, the Sheriff’s Department shut them down under what they thought was the Governor’s order. I would not have shut those two places down. And I’ll tell you why. The reason is because you could have gone into those situations knowing the COVID-19 problem that we have, and you could have put in play situations where those people could have done social distancing, while still being able to operate.

Richard: So those were business closures of a restaurant or a small business, or what was that?

“Well, well, one had to do with a weapons range where people could go and shoot. The other one had to do with a golf course. Those were the two businesses that I spoke of a particular they were in a paper, there were a lot of people up in arms about why those were shut. As the sheriff, even though weather or not the order by the governor is a constitutional or not, dependent on what people felt. I would not have shut those businesses down. I would have sent the deputies out there or I would have gone out there myself, when I received complaints or the knowledge if they were still operating. I would have gone out and had a discussion with those business owners and said, “Look I’m a pro-business as anybody in this world and I know that there’s a lot of business out here. That this shutting down is not only going to hurt their business, it’s gonna kill their business. It’s gonna affect our personal lives. So, let’s figure up a plan here together, so that you can continue to operate under the social distancing Laws and the plans that we have in effect, and not put you in a bind that is going to cause a spread of this COVID-19, and it’s also not gonna put you in a financial bind as well.

Richard: you were talking about discretion. I was down at the Moulton Park on Memorial Day and it’s supposedly closed. People were enjoying the park. Obviously, I’m glad to see there weren’t any offices there arresting people. However, it all the picnic tables were removed. The point is, I think there is discretion.  Somebody decided, people shouldn’t congregate in the park. Well, if you took it to an extreme, the sheriff could say, “hey we’re gonna enforce it, where you go down to the park and arrest the people who are congregating. Do you know where I’m going with this?

“Yeah, exactly, and I don’t think that serves a purpose. I just don’t see going out and locking people up because they went to the park and I don’t think that’s what the governor of our state or any state truly wanted to have happen.

If you had officers out there just simply ask the people, “Look, can you please keep at least six foot between you?” you approach it from a different aspect. You don’t go out there and go locking people up for this stuff.

It’s one thing now, if somebody is just blatantly doing something, they’re not keeping distance between people, they’re not wearing masks, they’re not doing anything at all to stop the spread of COVID-19. Then sometimes your hands get tired, but I don’t think going out and closing somebody’s business, down.

You can even turn it over to the health department in some of these cases, if it’s a health department issue. But it’s important, I think for the sheriff to use that discretion.

Richard: when you compare your candidacy to your opponent, I know you have an opponent, Mr. Hansen in the primary, what is different? Why should we choose you versus your opponent?

Well, I’ll start right off with Shannondale. I have been a long-time person that has endorsed another way off of this mountain. My opponent now says that he supports another way off of this mountain as well. I was the one, I pushed it out. We’re in our second home here. By the way, in Shannondale. We live off of gate one. But our first home was up off of gate four. My wife and I stood out there on our front deck and watched the wildfire across the mountain coming across that mountain from the Virginia side down coming down toward the Shannondale club and lake. That was a pretty scary situation.  Every year while we lived up there to the back of us was state Park land and every hunting season, we would have the fire trucks up there back in the woods trying to put out fires from folks who would be back there hunting and throwing their cigarette down.

So, sadly, but it’s a fact, if we have a major disaster, or a major fire up here there are people at some point that are trapped, and cannot get off of this mountain. I don’t want that to be a fact. I view public safety as just that. Public safety. I have a responsibility to everybody in this county to ensure that they are provided as much safety from the department, as well as from, means safety of getting in and out of their communities in case a disaster as possible…

My opponent likes to make an issue of the fact that he’s been a deputy sheriff for 20 plus years here in Jefferson County.

I was not a deputy sheriff for 20 some years. I have 40 years of experience but not as a deputy sheriff in Jefferson County. I did work for Berkeley County after I retired the first time for two years as a court Bailiff.

I grew up here in West Virginia, so I understand West Virginia law enforcement having a cousin that was a deputy sheriff and having the county sheriff, one of the best friends of our family, that was like an uncle to me as I grew up. I have worked alongside, and been best friends. I’ve ridden with the Blue Nights Association, which is here in West Virginia, which is all made up of law enforcement people.

So what I bring to the table different is that I bring here and not only an understanding of West Virginia law enforcement. I also bring an understanding of other ways to get things done instead of the same old, same old things the way it has been. If my opponent, who in fact likes to claim that he was either the number one or number two guy, at times under the sheriff, if there was those issues that he wanted to get done, he sure certainly had the opportunity while he was a deputy sheriff, to intervene and take care of some of those situations. I don’t see him having done that.

The big difference to me in between me and him, is the way we’ve seen within the community.

I certainly care about the way my image [is]. I care about the law enforcement profession. I like to talk with people, have conversation with them, and I am not seen as a person of arrogance or bullying and I don’t ever wanna be seen that way.

I’ll be the same guy as your sheriff that I am sitting here right now.

But I think our experience level, is the main difference. I’ve got a lot of experience in a lot of different fields. My experience level comes from multiple states, not just from Jefferson County, West Virginia.

Richard: as we’re drawing to a close anything else you’d like to share with the voters, as they’re approaching June 9th.

“I would just simply ask them to keep in touch with me on Facebook or my email…

I think if people could check into my web page.

And that’s as, they could check into my Facebook page, which is Steve Harris for Jefferson County Sheriff, share and my email, and all that’s listed right on all Those spots.

I would just simply say that I feel that I’m the absolute best candidate for this job. I’m concerned about the drug problem in this county and I have a drug investigator experience. I’ve got a grandson that still goes to the school. My kids grew up going to these schools, we need to give them a safe place to go to school, a safe place to live, and I’m the man to do that job.

Richard: thank you very much, thank you for joining us today. So everyone do vote on June 9th. Also, we’ve got three Supreme Court justices who will be elected then and the magistrates and of course all the primaries on both sides.