The Mecklenburg County Sheriffs Office is often overshadowed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, which handles the bulk of law enforcement duties. Yet the sheriff is still a powerful position that demands a skilled manager who understands and appreciates the departments considerable job.
The sheriff supervises more than 1,300 employees and manages a multi-million dollar budget. The office screens and provides security for a million or more visitors to the countys courthouse each year and oversees some 2,200 inmates.
None of the choices in the Democratic and Republican primaries provide the bounty of experience and proven skill previous sheriffs have had. Whoever wins on May 6 and becomes the victor in the Nov. 4 election will have to grow in the job to meet its expectations and needs.
Of Democrats Irwin Carmichael and Antoine Ensley, Carmichael is the one with experience with the Sheriffs Office. He started as a reserve deputy (a volunteer job), and as a captain trains Mecklenburg deputies in how to subdue inmates. He also presents crime prevention and self defense programs to schools and other organizations locally and nationally. His intimate knowledge of how the Sheriffs Office works and his understanding of its core duties give him a leg up on his challenger.
Ensley offers diverse experiences as a former police officer, SWAT team negotiator and administrator of a juvenile justice system reform effort in Virginia. And he has good ideas. Some, though, like providing tax credits to businesses to hire former inmates, are best pursued through other government offices or elected positions.
The sheriff must have a crystal clear understanding of and appreciation for the offices core responsibilities. He must be ready to focus squarely on ensuring those functions are carried out well. We think Carmichael is best positioned to do that, and recommend him in the Democratic primary.
Of the Republicans, former Highway Patrol trooper Chris Hailey, director of public safety training at Central Piedmont Community College, has a much better grasp of the management required to run the Sheriffs Office than challenger Louis Rango, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police auto theft detective. Former sheriffs deputy Rango is making his first run for political office. We recommend Hailey.
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