It appears that special interests have now found their way into government enforcement, by default. Legislators and other politicians, which can include a Sheriff, are being bought and paid for, as a means to make and enforce law that not only secures special interests, but that also secures revenue related to special interests. Blind enforcement of these special interest inspired laws, generally benefit the special interest groups themselves, at the expense of the people's fundamental rights, wealth and property ownership. A wise Sheriff must see this, and protect the people from this, by exercising Constitutional discretion, aka, taking the Oath seriously.
We must as a community take mental illness very seriously. How does law enforcement approach a subject who has or is in the process of committing a "criminal act," who may be a special needs adult? Is the individual aware that the action may be criminal? This is something very close to my heart as a father of a special needs adult. Of course in my mind, I am a bit biased, compassion and communication must come first. But this may not always work, depending upon the illness. Law enforcement has some good training in approaching adults with special needs, and I would like to take it higher, through more professional, sensitivity training. It weighs heavily in my chest when a special needs adult is mistaken as a subject in the "willful" commission of a crime. I want to find a way to better balance the law enforcement and medical approach.
There is a fascinating new book out titled, The End of Mental Illness. We would never hold an individual accountable to symptoms of an organ that is not working properly, or is malfunctioning. For example, would we criminalize an individual who peed their pants after knowing that their kidneys were failing? Absolutely not. This is what we do with brains that are not working correctly. The brain is an organ, and we know the least about it. **The symptom of a brain not working correctly is behavior, behavior that can be mistaken as criminal intent.** It is time to change the way we deal with mental illness. Please read this book
The Criminal Element:
Probably the biggest job of the Sheriff is dealing with the criminal element. This entails crime prevention and criminal investigations. Community policing is a very good source for criminal activity prevention, as this allows for positive relationships to be established between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The criminal element within our society is what incites the creation of many new laws, bad laws and government overreach, all in the name of crime prevention, and all in the name of good intentions, but at a cost. That cost is your autonomy. I do promise, however, that if you exist in Lee County, with the intent to do harm to another human being, to do harm to the property of another, to take what is not yours, that leads to the fruition of a criminal act, I will do everything within my lawful authority to find you and to bring you to justice. I know this may sound dramatic and even funny, but I'm not kidding! Criminal acts have historically been the primary cause for chaos in any society and they move governments to restrict liberties even further through the creation of new and egregious laws. A competent Sheriff can help minimize this in the county by balancing good law enforcement with a keen eye on potential exploitation.
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault:
I believe that we can do more, as it relates to domestic violence and sexual assaults. This will include more education and training for officers, of course. But more specifically, the Sheriff's Office must be a place where a victim can run too, to feel secure and where they can rely upon the necessary and lawful procedures to help them medically, emotionally, psychologically, and socially. No victim of domestic violence and/or sexual assault should ever feel like they can't get help by their sheriff.
There is a dark side to human nature, especially in government, which is the essence of why we have a Federal and State Constitution, to help control this dark side of human nature within government. James Madison argues this, saying,“If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and the next place, oblige it to control itself.”
It pains me to see so many, now, interpreting a return to centralized power as being progressive. We need a strong and wise Sheriff to not only protect people from criminal acts, to investigate and bring to justice those who commit criminal acts, to secure rights and to commandeer peace, but to be the first line of defense against government overreach. County residents elect their Sheriff so as to have a voice in how laws are enforced. This is where constitutional discretion comes in. Government is always trying to make itself bigger and stronger, by becoming more and more centralized, which is the result of the dark side of human nature, I believe, all at the expense of the people's wealth and property rights. Again, a strong and wise Sheriff can help minimize this arbitrary growth of government in the county by simply taking their Oath seriously.
One thing I would like to do as Sheriff is install a library in the jail. While residents of the jail await their day in court, they have the opportunity to read and explore various subjects. Reading is a fundamental means to move the mind. The right book at the right time just might turn a life around, for the best.
I was asked an interesting question, which I am grateful for. I was asked how can the Constitution be enforced first, as it relates to the county jail. Well, aside from the obvious protections that an individual has following an arrest, the greatest manner in which the Constitution is enforced first is by treating the people in jail as we would any other human being that is not in jail, with dignity and respect. Jail is not prison. For the most part, the occupants in jail are still innocent until proven guilty. They are awaiting their day in court. People in jail are being temporarily held, for whatever reason, they are generally not serving a convicted sentence. That is prison, where an individual has been found guilty, in a court of law, and sentenced to prison. Jail and prison are two separate things. This is not an undermining of the need of a strong hand, however, as it relates to problem people in the jail. Moreover, even in prison, people should be treated like human beings. We are not Russia, or China. We are America, and yes, innocent until proven guilty, is an ideology. This ideology is what makes America so exceptional. This is also why, in part, if I am elected, the county jail will have a library. Prisons have libraries.
1st & 2nd Amendments:
The first two Amendments in our Bill of Rights are its bedrock. Without freedom to speak your mind, without the freedom to exercise your right of conscious, without the freedom to worship God, how, when and where you please, without the freedom to question and protest government policies, without the freedom to exercise self-preservation with a firearm, and without the freedom to form a militia to defend these rights, with firearms, we are no longer Americans. I believe that there is a strong movement to undermine the 1st and 2nd Amendments, as a means to "Europeanize" our American way of life. If I am elected Sheriff, Lee County will be a safe haven for not only our first two Amendments, but for the whole Bill of Rights. The free exercise of the 1st & 2nd Amendments are the backbone of what makes us Americans, and this has been theoretically threatening arbitrary power here and abroad, since America's beginning.
I would also like to organize the budget in such a way as to give an annual, possibly bi-annual, bonus to all the Sheriff's Office employees. This is something I strongly believe in. Teachers get a bonus, why not our law enforcement professionals? This can happen.
Constitution Courses for Officers:
One of my whole-hearted objectives as Sheriff is to increase the knowledge and understanding of our Federal Constitution to Lee County law enforcement personnel. I would do this by enrolling and sending officers off to take courses in the Constitution, on a revolving platform. One really great resource that teaches American law enforcement personnel the Constitution is in our neighboring state Virginia, at the James Madison Montpelier Center. Let's face it, basic law enforcement training (BLET) does not do enough when it comes to training our new officers in how to defend and uphold the Constitution, as its first line of defense, which every officer swears to do. I will change this.
School Resource Officers (SROs):
We love our SROs. They are essential to the security of our children while attending county schools, and SROs instill a level of presumed respect for their service to our communities. However, and this is a complex however, I believe it sends the wrong message to our children when a law enforcement officer enforces school policy that is not related to actual criminal activity. School policy enforcement is a school administrator’s job. Law enforcement should not be telling a child to take their hat off, spit out their gum, take out their earbuds, ask for their hall pass, or even search a student’s parked, and unlocked vehicle, without probable cause, etc. SROs are there to keep our children safe, not from actually being children. This is my opinion, and if elected Sheriff, this will be reflected within the SOP.
Qualified Immunity Reform:
I am not a fan of Qualified Immunity and will do what I can to minimize it within the Lee County Sheriff's Office. What is Qualified Immunity? Watch this explainer video to see how a doctrine made up by the Supreme Court in the 80s lets government workers off the hook when they violate the Constitution. I write about Qualified Immunity extensively in my book.
Community Advisory Board:
I would like to create a community based, advisory board to help assess and recommend legal, and/or disciplinary action if rights are allegedly violated. This board would be within an advisory capacity only.
I believe our local law enforcement does a good job, as it relates to illegal drug enforcement. I think we can do more. The problem I tend to see is, once a case goes to court, plea bargaining, rather than an actual trial, underscores the case, for time and costs sake, allowing the subject to walk away with a "slap on the wrist." How do we change this? How can we make this better? This is something I am digging into for more facts and ways to make illegal drug law enforcement to "stick."
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Institute of Health (NIH), the leading cause of death amongst law enforcement officers is cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke). If elected Sheriff, I will address this head on with physical fitness standards and requirements. Because, according to the CDC, nearly 80% of all cardiovascular disease events are preventable. Yes, preventable! This is a death statistic that we can change, together.