Davis says department should be proactive

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Clanton Advertiser interviewed each candidate for political offices with local implications. Below are responses from Kevin Davis, who is running for sheriff of Chilton County. Candidate passages are presented verbatim but may have been edited for length and clarity. Look for responses from candidates for county superintendent of education later in the week.

Question: Why are you running for reelection?

I’m running for reelection because I’ve always felt like serving the people was a calling on my life and have enjoyed the service to the community. I started out many years ago as a volunteer firefighter and through that got into law enforcement and have worked for many years through the chain of command and up the ladder to this position and hope the people give me an opportunity to continue to build on what we’ve started.

What would be your No. 1 priority if you are reelected?

The biggest thing that I want us to do in establishing the sheriff’s office is to establish good public relations. We have started many programs that work on that. I want to be involved in the community and have our deputies involved in the community, with people when they’re having good days, not just on the bad days. Of course, drug enforcement is a big priority here. There are drugs out there running rampant in our country, and our county is not immune to it. The meth problem is a big problem, and that’s a priority in our county.

Drugs, particularly meth, are a big concern in our county. As sheriff, what specifically would you do to tackle our drug problem?

There are more of them than there are of us. I have three people that are full-time, dedicated narcotics officers that work “from can to can’t,” so to speak, and primarily the only thing they enforce is drug laws. If we have major cases, like we had the homicide last week, we pull them in to help on that. And our first thing we can do to fight that is to have more people. I’ve heard people say that the drug war is a war that will never be won. I would have to agree with that to a certain extent, but it’s not a war that we can stop fighting. We’ve got to keep the dealers and the suppliers looking over their shoulders and thinking, which day are they coming? And we’ll continue to do that to the fullest of our ability. I’m not going to sit here and say that, if I’m elected to another term that I’m going to totally wipe out drugs. But I do say that we’ll continue to fight it. We have several systems in place that I won’t reveal because I don’t want people to know how we do know what we know. But we’ll continue to build those programs and those tactics to make our drug enforcement program even better.

What else do you consider the biggest threat to Chilton County’s well-being?

Our biggest concern, and I know there’s no quick fix and I have no real answer, but our biggest thing is having deputies on the ground, or a lot of people call it “boots on the ground.” We are strapped. Our call volume compared to the amount of deputies that we have is tough, but the county is in the same economic problems that we all have. There’s not enough money to go around, and that’s the sad point. We have to jockey our deputies and move deputies around and put deputies in different positions at different times of day and night to offset that call volume. Our call volume this day in time is through the roof, and we have not increased any deputies. Were at the same amount of deputies we were four years ago, and that’s tough. It limits us in how much we’re able to patrol and be proactive. We like to say were a proactive department, we get out there and try to be proactive and try to do that sort of enforcement. But it’s very tough to be proactive when you’re just reacting to whatever call you get, and that’s sad. There are a lot of times when we’re able to be proactive and get out and set up drivers license checks and do DUI saturation details and certain things, but more times than not, we’re reacting to situations rather than being proactive and being in the community.

Without question we are in some tough economic times. How do you weather cuts to the sheriff’s department without jeopardizing the safety of residents?

We’ve been level funded for the last two years, which means we’re maintaining the same as we have. Our service is the same as it has been. What makes it tough is our population increases and with the economy the way it is, more people are at home; more people are out of work. So that increases call volume and all that, and we’re still level funded at where we’re at. And that makes it tough to continue to stay at where we were years ago.