Former Mecklenburg Sheriff Jim Pendergraph says he's not interested in the county's newly minted “crime czar” job because he doesn't think the position has enough power to be effective.
Pendergraph retired as Mecklenburg Sheriff last December to lead a federal immigration post, but resigned after 11 months and has been back in Charlotte for two weeks. At least one county commissioner said last week that Pendergraph would be a good fit for a post that local leaders hope will improve the county's criminal justice system.
The search for a justice accountability director began Wednesday and could pay as much as $141,017, according to the job listing.
But the former sheriff's lack of enthusiasm about the director's job could highlight a potential flaw in the post, one of 16 recommendations from a citizens' panel that looked at ways to fix the criminal justice system.
Pendergraph said the director wouldn't do much more than report to the county manager and would be put in the awkward position of policing elected officials, who answer directly to voters.
“I'm not sure that whoever takes that job could have any success because you can't hold people accountable that you have no control over,” Pendergraph said. “If this accountability director calls a meeting and no one shows up, what's he going to do? If there's no teeth in it, why have another layer of bureaucracy?”
Bill James, the commissioner who called Pendergraph “the perfect choice” for the job, said he understands “why he wouldn't want to get into the sort of bureaucratic back-and forth.”