Office Sought: Sheriff
Incumbents, when elected: Elected Sheriff in 1999
Fairfax County Deputy Sheriff's Coalition
Fairfax County Sheriff's Association
Fraternal Order of Police
Fairfax County Professional Firefighters
Fairfax County Coalition of Police
Law Enforcement Alliance of America
International Union of Police Associations
Virginia Coalition of Police
1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?
Incumbents: Describe the top accomplishment of your last term.
Saving money for the taxpayers. During my term, we were able to bring in over 8 million dollars in Federal grant money that had never been obtained before. We were able to trim almost 1 million dollars a year by privatizing the food service in the detention center. An independent audit of our staffing by the Department of Management and Budget found that we were one of the leanest organizations in the entire State.
2. What are the top five problems facing your the Sheriff's Office and what
approaches will you use to solve them?
Overcrowding- Without additional staff it is difficult to ease the overcrowding and funding is not available at this time to hire the additional staff. We are testing a GPS tracking system for home incarceration that may move as many as one hundred prisoners from the detention center.
Housing the mentally ill- The ADC has become a dumping ground for people with very serious mental illness. This puts them in a place that, in most cases, destabilizes them even more. What most of them need is treatment, not incarceration. We are joining with the police department and the Community Services Board to create an efficient diversion program so that they can receive the treatment they so desperately need. The system will be based on the one currently in place in Memphis Tennessee. The upshot of it is that it will be less time intensive and less work for the patrol officer to take them to a treatment center that it will be to take them to the detention center.
Terrorist Attack- It is not a question of if, but when, a terrorist attack will strike the metro area again. We have created an emergency response coordinator which has us as prepared as we can possibly be to handle a terrorist attack (in the case of the courthouse or jail) or assist in responding to a terrorist attack.
Speeding Civil Process- The amount of civil process has increased tremendously over the past few years yet staffing levels have remained the same. This has caused some delays in service. We are reviewing systems and plan to implement a tracking system similar to the one used by UPS and FEDEX in which all process will be tracked by bar code. This will allow for much faster service by the deputies as they will not have to hand write each service but will simply scan the bar code. An additional benefit will be that the attorney, or whoever initiated the service, will be able to track the specific process via the internet.
Attorney visiting- With the expansion of the size of the ADC, the number of prisoners (1300) and the staff shortages it is much more difficult to get prisoners to their attorney visits in a timely manner. We have instituted a reservation service that will ensure that the prisoner is waiting for the attorney when they arrive. We are now installing a telephone system that will allow the attorneys to call the prisoners directly in their housing areas.
3. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this office?
The ability to listen to others and work well with people. The constant innovation that is necessary to get the most service for your money and continue to improve public safety.
4. How will voters best distinguish between you and your opponent(s)?
The most obvious distinction is that my message is a positive one. My opponent structures his campaign around vitriolic personal attacks and unsubstantiated innuendo, offering no alternatives, just criticism. My priorities are safeguarding public safety personnel and maintaining my proven track record of running a very efficient, safe and fiscally responsible agency.
5. Describe the current workforce for the Sheriff's Office. Is it sufficient for fulfilling its pubic safety responsibilities? If not, what is needed and at what cost?
The current staffing would have to be increased by 120 in order to fully staff the new addition to the detention center. There is no funding available to do so at this time. The cost for the additional staff would be approximately 10 million dollars. We do have sufficient staff to maintain the current facility with the prisoners double bunked.
6. How difficult is it to recruit sheriff deputies? What is the ideal background for such recruits? What steps has the Sheriff's Office taken to expand recruitment efforts? What more can be done?
There is no ideal Sheriff Deputy recruit as long as they are honest and willing to work hard. Each person brings a different set of skills with them and the more diverse the staff, the better service we are able to provide. We established the recruiting section in 2000 and have had no problems with recruitment and hiring since that time.
7. Explain the process for identifying potentially suicidal inmates at the county Adult Detention Center. Statistically, how does Fairfax compare with other county jails?
Each person brought into the detention center is screened immediately for suicide risk and twice more over the following 24 hours. If there is any indication that the person may be suicidal they are put on suicide watch where they can be continually monitored and referred to the mental health staff. It is very rare for an inmate to commit suicide and those that do have usually given no indication to anyone that they are suicidal.
8. What policies and procedures are in place to prevent inappropriate contact between jail staff and inmates? How does such a system break down and what can be done to improve the recruiting or training of department or subcontracted staff in the jail?
Inappropriate contact between corrections officers and inmates is prohibited by policy and is against the law. Every effort is made to ensure that we hire people of good moral character that will not violate the law. Although these instances are rare, as in any profession, some do violate the law. It is not a matter of the system breaking down, but rather, of individuals making bad choices. Those who do are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
9. How do you address the perception that the Sheriff's Office is its own fiefdom, rewarding politically astute deputies at the disadvantage of other deputies?
This perception exists because of political rhetoric. The fact is that less than ten percent of the people promoted have contributed money to the campaign. Clearly there is no link to career advancement and political activities.