Third in a series
Chris Hailey has spent most of his adult life driving around in a patrol car, cruising the highways of North Carolina and the streets of Raleigh.
If he’s elected sheriff, he says he’ll commute 20 miles round trip from his home in Matthews.
So it’s no surprise that his big idea for the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office has to do with drive time. He wants to open jail substations in distant parts of the county to reduce the amount of time officers spend carting suspects to jail and increase the time they spend on the streets.
The substations would be temporary holding stations for prisoners, who would then be bused to Jail Central in uptown.
“You have a million people in this county,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense to arrest somebody and then take two, three, four hours to process them.”
Hailey faces Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Detective Lou Rango in the Republican primary on May 6. Early voting starts April 24.
Hailey said he has a knack for how the different pieces of the law enforcement puzzle fit together because he’s enforced the law in so many places.
Hailey was a three-sport athlete at Bowman Senior High School in Wadesboro, where he was also class president.
After college, he was nudged into law enforcement by a man he calls his mentor, John Baker, the first black sheriff elected in North Carolina. Baker, a former NFL defensive lineman, was Wake County sheriff from 1978 to 2002. Baker died in 2007.
Hailey has been in public safety for 27 years – with the Raleigh Police Department and then with the Highway Patrol. As a trooper, he served stints in Mecklenburg, Union and Wake counties, but also in Pasquotank County in Eastern North Carolina.
He ran unsuccessfully for sheriff in 2010, losing to Chipp Bailey in the general election.
Now he’s teaching at Central Piedmont Community College as the director of public safety training. He said he wants to expand educational opportunities for employees of the Sheriff’s Office.
“We want to make sure that our deputies are well-trained and they have the education they need to be able to train the community,” he said. “Just because you come in with just a high school diploma, we don’t want you to leave with just a high school diploma.”
Hailey said he also wants to partner with other police departments on a mentoring program for at-risk youth. The cornerstone would be lunch with an officer once a week in a school’s cafeteria.
“Not only will it help kids stay out of trouble, but it also will make the schools safer as well,” he said.