Wilson aims to place more deputies on street

Published 9:48 pm Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Clanton Advertiser interviewed each candidate for political offices with local implications. Below are responses from Terry Wilson, 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 did you decide to run for sheriff?

It’s something that I’ve always wanted to be and wanted to do. Being in law enforcement for 21 years, I would like to advance in doing things, especially dealing with the public. I’ve always liked to help people—I always did—and serve people, and I think I’m a good candidate for the job.

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

My top priority, if elected sheriff, would be getting the community back in the sheriff’s department and having good relationships with the people of the county. People have more eyes than we have in the sheriff’s department because we have people all over the county looking and seeing things every day, and if you have a good relationship with them, they will call you when they see problems going on in their community. But if you shut them out and you get them where they are disgusted, to where they don’t trust you, then they probably won’t call you and let you know anything that is going on. So, this is my top priority by serving the people in this county and protecting them and good relationships. I would like to be known and all my deputies known in the county, especially where they are working. I want them to be in sections: have deputies in the west side, north side, south and east, and I want them to get to know the people they work around every day. I want them to stop and introduce themselves and let them know we are here to serve them and protect them and anything we can do for them to call us. And also on top of that, I would like to have a meeting with the rural fire departments like once every three months in different areas and find out what their needs are in their community and find out what we can do to serve them better. I think a good relationship like that would solve a lot of problems if we get together like once every two or three months and have a meeting at each fire department and see what the problem is and what we can do to make this community better.

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

Well, this is one of the tasks that will work when you have good relationships with the people in the county. If John Doe over there is starting up a meth lab and you next door have kids in school, they don’t want their kids exposed to this stuff, so they are going to call and let us know. I know we can’t get rid of all the drugs, but we can sure slow it down. But I will try to get rid of it. I’m not going to say I am, but we’re going to try. That’s our main topic, is this drug problem. We’re going to deal with it.

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

Burglary. The way the economy is now, a lot of people are out of work. They have 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to figure out how they are going to beat you or break in your house and steal. If you know we have police officers to come through, they think twice about hitting this house, but if they don’t ever see a car from week to week, hey we can go break in this house, they never patrol out here. So, this is one of the things we want to do is make sure we have officers patrol in those rural areas. Not in the city of Clanton, not on the interstate, but in the county.

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?

Try to cut down overtime so we can keep the numbers that we do have. Compromise on keeping deputies on the streets. Budget. You said they cut the budget like $50,000. If that did happen, I’m sure there’s a way that we can keep men working. We might look at some other departments, like the investigation department. I was told they will have six investigators or maybe eight investigators, I’m not sure, but that’s too many. If that comes, we might have to pull two or three out of investigation and put them on the road so we can cut down on the overtime working of the ones that are out there patrolling so we can have more deputies on the streets. And laying off somebody is my last resort because we need more people anyway. I would try hard for that not to happen.