Letter to the editor: Hartman best choice for sheriff

Published 9:14 am Thursday, May 5, 2022

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To the editor:

Well, Davie County has a round of elections coming up and the signs for the various contests have taken up residence in our yards like the pollen that has us all sneezing and red-eyed this spring. Everyone is deeply entrenched in their support for one candidate or another for various reasons. Personally, I can’t think of any deep-seated issues that I have with anyone that is running for the particularly contentious office of Sheriff of Davie County.

I don’t usually publicly take a stand on public office for local elections. I’m going to have to make an exception this year for no other reason than I have a unique point of view that might help ensure that we enjoy good law enforcement services in this area for another four years.

Mocksville Police Department was my law enforcement home from the summer of 2006 until the agency’s shutdown in 2021. I worked part-time and greatly enjoyed most of my time there. As with most of my former coworkers, anger and disillusionment came knocking once the shutdown was announced. I continued to work (full-time hours or greater for the last two months) to the best of my abilities until we handed the jurisdiction over to the Davie County Sheriff’s Office on the last day. I spent a month or two off before moving from an inactive reserve position to an active part-time position at the Davie County Sheriff’s Office.

Right off the bat, I was welcomed by the organization. Field trainers are technically and socially competent. Everybody seems to get along – really well, in fact. There exists a genuine team-driven atmosphere. The equipment is in great condition – even the spare cars that are out of front-line service are in amazing shape and lovingly cared for. The new facility is a force-multiplier in that the minds working to solve the various crime problems presented in the county are all housed under one roof – you can walk down the hall and have a face-to-face conversation for a consult. Things that you need to do your job are an office away. There is consistency in the way that routine tasks are performed or supervised. These synergies do not appear overnight and were painstakingly built by the team assembled by the current administration.

Given the huge number of people brought on by the shift in responsibilities from Mocksville Police Department to the Davie County Sheriff’s Office, it’s amazing how seamless the transfer has been. The 20 or so new full-time bodies brought in have benefited from a sound field training process and the organization is reaping the rewards from having a great reputation in the area. Experienced officers and deputies from organizations that have less effective working environments are flocking to Davie County and you, the resident of this area, are benefiting from that. There are very few open positions on the road with this agency. The vacant slots stem mainly from retirements. Nationally-accredited training classes (multiple offerings of a recent two-day course in de-escalation, for example) are being run in-house and are attracting law enforcement staff from state and local agencies to come here to train from as far away as Pender County and Morganton. With less focus being placed on field training as new folks become more independent, these opportunities to make our deputies better and more skilled will continue to bloom.

The well-documented issues within Mocksville Police Department that contributed to its demise are conditions that we would all like to forget. I’m asked for an opinion on something regarding the police department debacles at least once or twice a week.

Is the Davie County Sheriff’s Office 100% perfect in every citizen encounter? Absolutely not. There are human beings behind each badge worn anywhere and we will, to a person, individually fall short from time to time. With that being said, I’ve seen from the inside that the Davie County Sheriff’s Office is filled with compassionate, motivated, well-intentioned people striving as a team to make this a safer county for your family as well as mine and it’s been an uplifting experience to join the team. Even watching the progression from the outside since 2006, the capabilities, training, equipment, and leadership have only gotten better as time has passed. Promotions seem to be genuinely driven by competency over the good old boy system. The organization is better now than it has ever been and has enjoyed a significant leap forward over the last two years. There is positive organizational inertia there.

I’m not worried about finding another law enforcement home if I had to – I can go work somewhere else if I elected to do so. I don’t work enough for my check at the DCSO to pay a significant portion of my bills. I owe nobody there anything and feel pretty free to speak my mind.

That mind is soundly made up to cast a ballot for J.D. Hartman in the upcoming primary.

Let’s keep moving forward.

Jeff Barney