Your candidates – DeKalb County Sheriff

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 1, 2014

To help educate voters in our area about their choices in the May 20 elections, Decaturish.com sent local candidates a simple questionnaire. Here are the responses of the candidates running for DeKalb County Sheriff.  Not all of the candidates responded. If a candidate wishes to complete the questionnaire, please send it to decaturish@gmail.com along with a head shot. Editor’s note: A few of you have asked whether Vernon Jones responded. We sent his campaign the questions via the campaign website. We didn’t receive a response. We called his office again today and they said they would provide answers ASAP. We received the responses from Vernon Jones on the evening of May 2. His answers have been added to this post. We received the answers of Tony Hughes on May 6. His answers have been added to this post. 

MelvinMitchell

Melvin Mitchell

Melvin Mitchell

Campaign website: www.melvinmitchell.org

Have you ever run for public office or held public office before?

No.

Why are you running for this office?

I believe the Sheriff’s Office is, first and foremost, a law enforcement job, and my 31 years of experience as a police officer makes me the best choice to make DeKalb safer. As a husband, father, and neighbor, I am outraged and disgusted by the 17,000 outstanding warrants that are unserved in this county, and the significant public safety risk that poses to our neighbors. As Sheriff, my number one priority will be to reduce the more than 17,000 outstanding warrants, beginning with getting the most violent offenders off the street first.

Please describe your professional background and list the attributes that you think make you qualified to hold this office.

I’ve spent 31 years working at the state’s largest police agency. I’ve walked a beat, supervised the Bomb Squad and SWAT Team, and served as a top aide to the chief of the Atlanta Police Department, a more than $200 million, 2,000 officer force. I hold a BA in Education from Clark College and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College at Columbus State University.

If you are elected to this office, what will be your responsibilities as an elected official?

My first priority will be the 17,000 unserved warrants in the Sheriff’s Office. We must get the wanted criminals and repeat offenders off our streets, starting with the most dangerous ones: wanted felons, spousal abusers, drug pushers, and gang members.

In a larger sense, I want to be a Sheriff who inspires the respect of our deputies, and I believe I can do that, because I’ve done those jobs I am asking them to do. I’ve served felony warrants. I’ve faced down dangerous criminals. I know cops – what they need to do their jobs, and what they expect from their leadership. My responsibility to run the most efficient and effective Sheriff’s Office and work to keep our streets safe.

Do you promise to act in a transparent, ethical manner if elected to this position?

I do. I believe the Sheriff is accountable and answerable to the citizens of DeKalb County. As Sheriff, I will lead from the field, not from behind a desk, and I will be a regular and accessible presence in the community. DeKalb has recently seen some dark days, and it’s time for a fresh start. I will be a Sheriff who gets results AND makes you proud.

Please complete the following sentence: The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is _____. Tell us what you would do to fix it.

The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is our economy, and even though that might not seem like a law enforcement issue, it is. As Sheriff, I will have a major role to play in DeKalb’s prosperity. Business owners in the community need to have trust in their Sheriff, and the knowledge that they can lock up their business at night and go home to their family without fear of becoming a statistic. Businesses looking to relocate to DeKalb need to be confident that they are moving their operations into a community protected by the smartest, most capable Sheriff’s office that we can provide.

As I’ve said, my top priority will be clearing the 17,000 outstanding warrants on the books in DeKalb, and I think it will be a major point in our favor when talking about economic development to say, “In just a few years, we’ve taken literally thousands of wanted criminals off the streets and made DeKalb a safer place to live, work, and thrive.”

Melody Maddox

Melody Maddox

Melody Maddox

Campaign website: www.melodymaddox.com/

Have you ever run for public office or held public office before?

I have never ran for or held public office before.

Why are you running for this office?

I am running for DeKalb County Sheriff to help DeKalb progress with its diverse and changing needs. It’s time for a positive shift in government with new leadership and Innovative Ideas for our county. My education, skills, administrative and police street training has poised me to handle such responsibilities. I bring leadership with a very high level of Integrity and moral ethics.

Please describe your professional background and list the attributes that you think make you qualified to hold this office.

I have 20 plus years of law enforcement within different municipalities ranging from Atlanta Police as a Police Recruit/Police Guard, Morris Brown Campus Police Guard, Dekalb County Sheriff Office Detention Technician and the most recent, Master Police Officer with DeKalb County Police Department and Assistant Chief of Police with Ga.Piedmont Technical College. I have a B.A. in Sociology, concentration Marriage and Family Counseling, Master of Science Administration Degree in General Administration and looking forward to completing my Ph.D in Business Administration, concentration Organizational Leadership. Post Certified General Instructor, Defensive Tactics Instructor. Intermediate and Advance Certifications. Terminal Agency Coordinator to conduct background checks. Development of Policy and Procedures. Managed salary administration, budget (multi- million), performance evaluation and new hire recruitment. Develop and presented in service training and other law enforcement programs. Supervised sworn and civilian personnel.

If you are elected to this office, what will be your responsibilities as an elected official?

My responsibility as an elected official is Integrity to my community first. Making a difference for strong work ethics and uncompromising devotion to service. Establish a strong partnership with other law enforcement municipalities. Most of all, address the concerns of citizens.

Do you promise to act in a transparent, ethical manner if elected to this position?

I do promise to act in a transparent and ethical manner if elected for this position. Serving my community in Honesty,Humility, Integrity,Justice and Equality.

 

Please complete the following sentence: The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is _____. Tell us what you would do to fix it.

The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is lack of Integrity, no morals or values for the position that our leaders hold. I plan to fix it by winning this DeKalb County Sheriff race and building a platform with those values for myself as well as for my employees. Fostering better morals, ethics and professionalism.

Jeff Mann, incumbent

Jeff Mann, incumbent

Jeff Mann

Campaign website: www.mann4sheriff.com

Have you ever run for public office or held public office before?

Yes, I am the Sheriff of DeKalb County.

Why are you running for this office?

I love being a public servant and get great satisfaction from the rewarding law enforcement work required of the Sheriff. I have worked with the great men and women of this Agency for the past 13 years, first as their Chief Deputy and now as their Sheriff. Together we have restored the integrity and respect to the Sheriff’s Office, as evidenced by our Triple Crown Accreditation status, placing us in the top one percent of all Sheriff’s Offices in the nation. I want to continue to serve as Sheriff to ensure that the great work we have done is not compromised, but built upon.

Please describe your professional background and list the attributes that you think make you qualified to hold this office.

Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1987; Juris Doctorate, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, 1990; Assistant County Attorney, DeKalb County, Georgia, 1993-2001; Director of Labor Relations & Legal Affairs, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, 2001-2004; Chief of Staff/Chief Deputy Sheriff, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, 2004-February, 2014; As Chief of Staff and Chief Deputy Sheriff, I managed the day-to-day operation of the Sheriff’s Office, overseeing its $78 Million annual budget and 860 budgeted personnel assigned to its Jail, Court, Field and Administrative Divisions, and its Training, Accreditation, Fiscal Affairs, and Professional Standards Sections. Oversaw the development and administration of approximately $20 million in annual contracts with private entities.; DeKalb County Sheriff, March 2014-present; Veteran, United States Air Force, 1981-1985 (honorable discharge, two Air Force Achievement Medals, Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Ribbon, Distinguished Graduate Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership School); Georgia Peace Officer Standards & Training Council certification, 2006 (top academic and emergency vehicle operations course awards); President, DeKalb Lawyer’s Association, 2000-2001; Leadership DeKalb graduate, 2000.

I am the most qualified and have the most relevant experience needed to execute the constitutional mandates required of the Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, my commitment to fiscal responsibility and adherence to proven procurement procedures ensures that DeKalb County taxpayers’ money is properly safeguarded. With me there is no on the job training – I have a proven track record. My candidacy offers continuity of leadership that is beneficial to taxpayers, citizens and the great men and women of the Office.

If you are elected to this office, what will be your responsibilities as an elected official? (Did not answer)

Do you promise to act in a transparent, ethical manner if elected to this position?

Yes. I am very proud of the work that I along with the great men and women have accomplished at the Sheriff’s Office. I am most proud that in the last 13 years that I have served the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, we have restored the integrity of the office and instead of being a blight on DeKalb County, we have emerged as a pillar of the community and an agency of excellence. In those 12 years we have achieved the coveted Triple Crown Accreditation for high achievement and accreditation by the three accrediting bodies for sheriff’s offices nationwide. We were awarded this honor in 2008 and we have maintained this accreditation that less than 40 sheriff’s offices nationwide have achieved. The accomplishments I have outlined would not have occurred if this office did not open itself up for examination and review by outside resources to ensure that we operate in a transparent, ethical and responsible manner.

Please complete the following sentence: The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is _____. Tell us what you would do to fix it.

Unemployment is the biggest problem facing Georgia right now. My Agency has job vacancies that we struggle to fill because our officers are the lowest paid among other metro area sheriff’s offices. The safety of DeKalb citizens is dependent on the quality of employees the Sheriff’s Office is allowed to attract and maintain. Recruiting and retaining staff, particularly for the Jail Division, is the biggest challenge. To fix this problem, I will continue to lobby the Board of Commissioners to ensure that sufficient funding is available to increase the pay of corrections staff to market rate. Given that the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office currently holds all three accreditations for excellence for a sheriff’s office, it is incomprehensible why the pay for our staff is less than similarly situated sheriff’s offices in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

LaSalle Smith

LaSalle Smith

LaSalle Smith

Campaign website: www.lasallesmithforsheriff.com/

Have you ever run for public office or held public office before?

No.

Why are you running for this office?

There is a perception among many residents of DeKalb County that DeKalb is one of the most corrupt counties in the state of Georgia. Recent incidents involving public officials and law enforcement officers appear to strengthen these voters concerns.

As a career Law Enforcement professional of tremendous honesty, integrity and professionalism, as well as a life-long resident of DeKalb County, this gravely concerns me. Consequently, I am running for Sheriff in order to restore the confidence of these voters in government and law enforcement. DeKalb County is in need of new leadership with new ideas who will restore true and sincere public service back to government and I feel that I am the candidate to do that.
Second, I am running for the Office of Sheriff of DeKalb County in order to bring a more effective and efficient collaboration among law enforcement in order to better protect the citizens of DeKalb, their homes, businesses and schools. It is my objective as Sheriff of DeKalb County, to make the county the safest place in the United States of America to live, work, play and conduct business.

Please describe your professional background and list the attributes that you think make you qualified to hold this office.

My career began with the FBI in Washington, D.C., where I served in the Identification Division and Security Section. When my dad became gravely ill back in Georgia, I relocated back to Georgia in order to support my mother. I joined the Atlanta Police Department and spent 30 exemplary years serving and protecting the citizens of Atlanta.

During my tenure with the Atlanta Police Department, I served as Commander of the Organized Crime and Intelligence Divisions for many years; Commander of the of the Vice Section; Commander of the Executive Protection Section; Commander of the Internal Affairs Section; Commander of Communications Sections, Commander of the Field Operations Section; Commander of the 911 Communications Section; Commander of the Gang Enforcement Section, and Commander of the Chaplaincy Section. I wrote and developed the first Gang Recognition/Interdiction manual for the Department, as well as the first Chaplaincy Corps manual. In addition, I served as a Community Specialist/Law Enforcement liaison in the Office of Mayor Bill Campbell. I traveled extensively throughout the United States conducting law enforcement and related classes for law enforcement agencies regarding gang recognition/identification and enforcement strategies.

I attended an excess of thirty-two (32) schools/seminars and other training classes regarding various areas of law enforcement and management.

Upon my retirement from the Atlanta Police Department, I served with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as a Business Analyst and Compliance Trainer, traveling throughout the State of Georgia training Criminal Justice Agencies in the use of the Georgia Crime Information Center’s Computer system, etc.

After serving with the GBI for two years, the opportunity presented itself for me to serve as the Chief of Police for the City of Pine Lake, Georgia. This position provided me with the additional skills to serve as a Law Enforcement Administrator, dealing with budgets and other administrative functions.

After achieving my objective of establishing a professional department for the City of Pine Lake, I served with the Fulton County Police Department as a Law Enforcement Trainer and Administrator.

I attended Georgia Perimeter College, Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia and Georgia Command College of Columbus State University in pursuit of degrees in Criminal Justice and Public Administration. I possess a BA degree in Biblical Education from United Christian Ministries Institute and currently in pursuit of a Master of Divinity degree, with a concentration in Apologetics from Luther Rice University, located in DeKalb County, Georgia.

I am certified by both the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council of Georgia and the Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies as a Classroom Instructor.

I am the President and CEO of Georgia Security Professionals, LLC, a security agency that specializes in Security Officer Certification and Training, as well as Protective Services.

I am a member of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police

If you are elected to this office, what will be your responsibilities as an elected official?

As the chief law enforcement officer of the county, my responsibilities as an elected official entail the complete administration of the Sheriff’s Office, which include the operation of the DeKalb County Jail, maintaining proper custody of inmates, securing resources for the jail and ensuring that same is operated in a safe, secure, humane and legal manner.

Additionally, my responsibilities include defining the vision for the Sheriff’s Office, enforcement of the laws of the County and the State of Georgia, provide security for the Courthouse and Courts; the execution and return of all processes and orders of the Courts; receive, transport and maintain custody of incarcerated individuals for the Court. Other responsibilities include the collaboration with other law enforcement and criminal justice agencies throughout the county and maintaining the Sexual Offender Registry for the county.

Do you promise to act in a transparent, ethical manner if elected to this position?

Absolutely! Throughout my law enforcement and personal career, I have always acted in such manner and consequently, that will not change. I truly believe that the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the County should be an individual with unquestionable character of Honesty, Integrity and Professionalism. I possess all of those attributes.

Please complete the following sentence: The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is _____. Tell us what you would do to fix it.

From this candidate’s perspective, the biggest problem facing Georgia right now is a very high recidivism rate, which has led to a rise in crime; particularly violent crime.

The recidivism rate in Georgia currently stands at sixty-five percent (65%), which means that the spike in crime essentially can be attributed to this problematic area. Crime among youth and young adults is also an issue.

My plan for addressing this rising problem is as follows:

Immediately develop programmatic efforts in order to curtail the recidivism rate. This will be done by partnering with Community/Neighborhoods groups, law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies, the Faith-based Community, State and Local Elected Officials, as well as help agencies in order to devise an immediate plan (within the first 120 days of my administration) to combat crime and subsequently address the recidivism rate.

I will convene a committee of these individuals on a regular basis to monitor the progress and productivity of the plan, as well as regularly tweak same when necessary, to ensure its effectiveness and efficiency.

As stated previously, my goal as the Sheriff of DeKalb County is to make the county the safest place in the nation to live, work, play and conduct business.

VernonJonesVernon Jones

Campaign website:  www.vernonjonesforsheriff.com

Have you ever run for public office or held public office before? 

I have held two political offices.  First, I served eight years in the Georgia House of Representatives.  I later had the distinct privilege of serving another eight years as the Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County.

Why are you running for this office?

I am running for this office because I belief that my administrative experience and my expertise in local government have prepared me to take the office of DeKalb County Sheriff to new heights and a broader range of accomplishments.

Please describe your professional background and list the attributes that you think make you qualified to hold this office.

The Office of Sheriff requires considerable experience managing people, securing resources, and ability to advance the department to the next level vs. continuing business as usual.  As CEO, I appointed the Chief of Police, managed DeKalb’s largest law enforcement agency and developed the public safety budget.  My administration:

  • Created the DeKalb Police Foundation to provide life insurance for every officer
  • Established the nation’s first local office of Homeland Security and DeKalb’s Emergency Management Agency (DEMA).
  • Purchased a new public safety headquarters and built a state-of-the-art 911 Emergency Call Center
  • Combined Fire & Rescue to reduce response times and increase efficiency

If you are elected to this office, what will be your responsibilities as an elected official?

There are three major issues plaguing the citizens of DeKalb.  I will haunt criminals who scam our seniors, prey on our children, and burglarize our homes.  As Sheriff, I will bridge the current gap between the community and the Sheriff’s Department.  We will be responsive to the community and work to eliminate drugs in our neighborhoods, schools and places of business.  My office will serve as the conduit between DeKalb’s law enforcement agencies in order to ensure that we don’t just push crime from one area of DeKalb to another, but rather eliminate it from DeKalb all together!

Do you promise to act in a transparent, ethical manner if elected to this position?

As Sheriff, my first priority will be to be tough on crime and provide assistance to the other DeKalb County law enforcement agencies with their crime fighting efforts.  I have a proven record of fiscal responsibility and transparency.  I will partner with religious, educational and community-based organizations to develop programs that will ensure protection of seniors, children and youth.  I will also create a task force to address issues specific to women.  DeKalb knows me, and I know DeKalb!

Please complete the following sentence: The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is _____. Tell us what you would do to fix it.

The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is the quality of life declining for some of our citizens and stagnation in Economic Development, particularly in DeKalb County.  Improvement of the quality of life from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s perspective would be:

  • Reducing the incidence of crime in DeKalb

Citizens are concerned about the negative impact that crime has on their quality of life and their confidence in DeKalb County government.

  •  Economic development in DeKalb has been impacted negatively, not only because of rising crime, but the “go along to get along” philosophy exhibited by the Sheriff’s Department.  While the Sheriff’s budget has increased by 30%, there remains a backlog of 1700 warrants.  As Sheriff, I will bring a greater sense of efficiency and effectiveness that will cut crime, contribute to economic development and reduce the revolving door of recidivism.
Tony Hughes

Tony Hughes

Tony Hughes

Campaign website: www.tonyhughesforsheriff.com

Have you ever run for public office or held public office before?

No

Why are you running for this office?

I am proud to live in DeKalb County, which has always had a fantastic reputation as a strong and diverse county in the Southeast. But recently, the voices of citizens in DeKalb have shifted from feelings of pride to those of concern and shame. I am running for DeKalb County Sheriff to lead the change we need to restore our pride in DeKalb.
Please describe your professional background and list the attributes that you think make you qualified to hold this office.

My background and training have prepared me very well to be DeKalb County’s next Sheriff. I am a lifelong resident of DeKalb County and went to Lithonia High School before graduating summa cum laude from Columbia Southern University with a degree in Criminal Justice Administration. I am the only candidate with over 18 years of full-time law enforcement experience with both the Sheriff’s Department and the Police Department.

My career began in the Sheriff’s Department as a Detention Officer, where I received both the Academic and Leadership Awards. I earned leadership positions in both departments, including supervising in the Homeland Security Division’s Gang Unit and serving as the Safety Coordinator for the entire DeKalb County Police Department. My experience has made me aware of the strengths and struggles of both departments, which will be a great benefit in my work to facilitate better law enforcement relationships in DeKalb.

But my leadership experience is not exclusive to law enforcement. I co-owned the Chick-fil-A on Wesley Chapel Road for two years, building it into a multi-million dollar business, until a tragic criminal act occurred in the establishment. Since then, I have been working to make DeKalb a safer place in which to live, work, and do business.

If you are elected to this office, what will be your responsibilities as an elected official?

If elected Sheriff, my administration will not be more of the status quo – poor morale and ineffective policies. As Sheriff, I will support better trained officers, more collaboration with other police entities to provide safer schools and communities, and more youth engagement through mentorship and educational opportunities, which will put us on a path to restore the county to its once-premier status.

My first priorities will be stopping the revolving door of crime and promoting a more community-involved Sheriff’s department. I will promote partnerships with technical/vocational schools such as DeKalb Tech to offer training to unemployed youth. Currently the revolving door of crime in DeKalb County is well above the national average, which indicates a lack of effective youth involvement. The Sheriff’s Department should lead the way in reducing the school-to-prison pipeline, which is affecting the good students in our schools.

Do you promise to act in a transparent, ethical manner if elected to this position?

Absolutely. I am proud of my law enforcement career in which I learned that integrity and strong ethical behavior is the only way to get the job done. When I look at the current Sheriff’s Department, I see articles in the press and cases in court of detention officers and deputies acting in a manner that should not make DeKalb residents proud. Leaders should be held accountable for their staff’s actions, not just their own. I have always worked hard in my career to uphold the values of transparency and ethics in law enforcement. I worked with the Office of the Police Cheif to achieve the Triple Crown Accreditation, which is so rarely attained by law enforcement agencies around the country. I am also a member of the DeKalb Fraternal Order of Police and the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives, two outstanding organizations that routinely uphold the values of transparency and ethics.

Please complete the following sentence: The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is _____. Tell us what you would do to fix it.

The biggest problem facing Georgia right now is the revolving door of crime. DeKalb doesn’t need career criminals. The revolving door of crime takes dollars away from education, economic development, and infrastructure improvements. If I am elected, I will work to return those tax dollars to the residents who have been upstanding DeKalb citizens. The Sheriff’s Office will form alliances with non-profit and faith based organizations that offer mentoring and education opportunities to give those who have fallen through the cracks the opportunity to succeed and contribute to our county. I will also partner with technical/vocational schools such as DeKalb Tech to offer training to unemployed youth. Currently the revolving door of crime in DeKalb County is well above the national average, which indicates a lack of effective youth involvement. If elected, my administration will lead the way in reducing the school-to-prison pipeline, which is affecting the good students in our schools.

Here are some ideas I have for our plan to address this issue:

We must recognize that not every criminal is the same. Knowing this, we can shift current resources within the department and significantly reduce our recidivism rates in the county, while also returning tax dollars to hard-working residents.

Education programs work and the y should not be cut. Research shows that inmates who participate in education programs have lower rates of recidivism and can potentially earn higher wages once they are released. These programs’ benefits to both the county budget and society at large far outweigh their short term costs.

Electronic monitoring works. Offenders on community supervision, such as those required to wear GPS monitoring devices, have higher rates of compliance and the financial cost to the county is significantly lower than the cost of imprisonment. We should implement this type of punishment more often to keep costs down.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Chris Billingsley

    Thanks Danish. As someone who has been throughout the DeKalb jail more than fifteen times, I know more than most that the job of sheriff is one of the most important elected positions in our county. Not only must the deputies and detention officers believe that the sheriff fully supports their professional behavior but the unjustly accused must be protected from the predators who are awaiting trial for their crimes. The DeKalb County sheriffs department has been relatively free from the cronyism and corruption that has plagued the other departments but that could all change based on this election. I hope the voters pick the candidate with the proven record of success and not name recognition only. Otherwise, we’ll have “Mr. Sheriff” running the show and that my friends, is a circus I don’t want to see again.

  • alpha

    didnt see Vernon Jones naem. has he dropped out?

  • alpha

    sorry bad typer ..Vernon Jones name. did he drop out.

  • DK Jenkins

    Smith has a very impressive bio. I would like to see a more culturally diverse group. I will say though, anyone that can make it through a FBI screening process and be hired will get my vote.

  • Sabbath Keepers United

    I’ve observed that there is only one female, Ms. Maddox who is a candidate for Sheriff in DeKalb County. From prior interviews and interacting with her, I believe she will do DeKalb County some justice. Of all the candidates who have applied for this office, Ms. Maddox was the only one who genuinely seemed concerned about the morale and unity in the department. This is a very important component to running an efficient county before you start “rounding up all the criminals”. First mission, home. Not only do I believe that she has passion, experience of 24 years, education and qualification but she also has the wisdom to pull this off. Thank you, Ms. Maddox.

Receive the Daily Email DIgest

* = required field