The following are answers to rrspin.com questions for the Halifax County sheriff’s race:
Class of 1987 Northwest Halifax, Degree in Criminal Justice, Graduate of NC State Administrative Management Officer Program
US Army Veteran and Gulf War Veteran active duty, followed by six years of service in the NC National Guard and Army Reserve totaling 10 years of service.
I worked as a Correctional Officer at Caledonia Correctional Institution at night and attended Nash Community College during the day.
I earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice.
I always believed higher education and training is essential to be competent to lead an organization.
I started my law enforcement career at the Rocky Mount Police Department as a patrol officer. After about a year on the force, I was offered a position on the department’s Neighborhood Reclamation Team (NRT).
This team gave me invaluable experience in working within neighborhoods, identifying community problems and working toward solutions.
I learned that community policing does work.
The Neighborhood Reclamation Team was a grant-based program designed to reduce violent crimes, the drug epidemic and the gang problems arising during that era.
This team was funded by the Federal Government to combat the emerging drug epidemic, community violence with an upswing in youth violence and crime participation by youthful offenders.
In 1998 I began my career in State Law Enforcement, first with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, then joining the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
I retired from the North Carolina Highway Patrol as First Sergeant for Edgecombe and Nash Counties.
I served in several units of the Highway Patrol as a Supervisor.
I served in Greensboro as a Field Sergeant/Supervisor, as well as at Highway Patrol Headquarters.
At this time, I gained valuable experience in the areas of Federal Grants and Budgeting.
This assignment required me to work with Supervisors from all 100 counties and I was assigned to the Special Operations Section (SOS) for several years.
This assignment allowed me to work and train with various agencies throughout North Carolina as well as the United States.
During my tenure at SOS, I was a supervisor for the Hazardous Material Team and was the Governor's designee in cases of major incidents or classified shipments or events.
During this time, I worked closely with the Drug Interdiction Unit of the Highway Patrol.
I have attended numerous courses throughout my tenure and earned over 3,000 hours of training.
I am currently a North Carolina Training and Standards Instructor.
I have received numerous hours of training by the State Fire Marshal’s Office and was among the first Law Enforcement Officers to be a Hazardous Material Instructor.
I have been a supervisor in charge of various critical incidents at the local and state level.
I am also a Federal Instructor in the areas of Incident Management. In addition, I have served on the Brunswick Task Force for Critical Incidents for the Coal Plant. I also served on the Catawba Task Force for Duke Energy Nuclear Power Force and the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant.
I received numerous hours of training in Homeland Security, Counterterrorism and Drug Interdiction.
Terrorism, Human Trafficking and Drug Trafficking are forms of Criminal Enterprise that use similar approaches for funding and trafficking.
I have served on numerous committees and boards regarding Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.
I was also a supervisor for the Halifax Weigh Station and Commercial Vehicles Safety Alliance (CVSA) members in eleven counties while assigned to the Motor Carrier Unit of the Highway Patrol.
Retired First Sergeant was my last assignment as District First Sergeant for Edgecombe and Nash County.
As the District Commander I was responsible for all district operations such as staffing and planning for normal operations and special events, all personnel matters such as receiving and initiating complaints from citizens about illegal activities and about misconduct of troopers.
This position is responsible for all evidence collected and stored in the district and must undergo bi-annual inspections as well as yearly state inspections.
I managed the performance evaluation process that is instrumental in ensuring troopers are on track and properly trained.
This evaluation also assists in preparing troopers for advancement and detecting performance problems.
This position holds you accountable for developing a plan to reduce fatalities, and other offenses.
I have attended numerous courses in leadership and management.
There's a difference in management and leadership. You must have to lead an agency such as the Sheriff’s Department to have real succes.
I was a Specialized Law Enforcement Instructor (LEO) and I currently maintain State and Federal LEO Instructor Certification. I served as the Tribal Administrator for several months without salary when the Tribal community was in need. I also served as a Tribal Councilman, chairman of the Tribal Veterans Committee and Chairman of the Personnel Committee.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award
Special Award presented by State Representative Bobbie Richardson on behalf of the NC House of Representative for service to the state and the nation
North Carolina Highway Patrol Outstanding Service Award
North Carolina State Highway Patrol Special Operation Section Hazardous Material Unit Recognition and Appreciation Award for Support and Leadership
National Defense Service Medal
Southeast Asia Service Medal with Bronze Star-2
Army Service Ribbon
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Government of Kuwait)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Government of Saudi Arabia)
Army Lapel Button
Law Enforcement Awards
Letter of Commendation for Community Service
Letter of Commendation for Assisting with locating escape prisoner
Letter of Commendation for Hurricane Fran
Letter of Commendation assisting allied Agencies with a border check.
Letter of Commendation from National Guard Counterdrug Task Force 2000
Letter of Commendation for Supervising a Detail to Protect NAACP President Cornell William Brooks and the NAACP members from the South Carolina Line to Virginia Line without incident
NC Trooper Association, NC State Employees Credit Union Advisory Board, Haliwa-Saponi Tribal Council and Tribal School Board, Vice Commander American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War Lifetime Member, the Order of The Long Leaf Pine Society. I have served as Chairperson of the State Employees Credit Union Advisory Board.
I am married to Terri Hedgepeth Silver, a Halifax County Native as well.
My wife is a career employee in the mental health field. I have two daughters India and Elizabeth and two grandchildren.
India works for NC Legal Aid and Elizabeth for Nash County School system.
My entire family is actively involved in community activity and volunteering whether in our tribe, church or worthy cause.
I was the leader of AWANA (Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed — an international evangelical non-profit organization to help children to become great leaders — Englewood Baptist Church, Rocky Mount.
I was a Sunday school teacher and leader of a monthly “Men’s Roundtable'' at my home church of Faith Baptist in Enfield.
I regularly support the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina and the Special Olympics.
For over 20 years I have supported Duke Children's Miracle Network and Make A Wish Foundation.
I have organized and sponsored car shows at Faith Baptist Church to support youth activities. I Organized in 2018 a car show for the American Legion Shaw-May Post and donated the trophies for the event,
North Carolina Trooper Association, Retired Police Chief George Robinson (2021) Rocky Mount Police Department.
Why are seeking this office and what makes you qualified to hold it if elected?
I believe that the citizens of Halifax County deserve a leader that has been properly trained to lead the county.
The next sheriff should be a sheriff of the people for today's time.
Old-fashioned police work still works but you must embrace training in all areas including leadership and management.
The sheriff should be in the front row to receive training and not be afraid of feedback or admitting they made a mistake.
Example: In the Glenview case once they realized the case had fallen completely apart after the recanted statement it should have not been taken to the District Attorney Office by the defense attorney several months after that.
The Investigators should have done their job and the leadership should have demanded an answer for the family of the victims and explained to the public what happened.
This shows how unaccountable leadership is to the people they knew they did not have any real evidence on — only a coerced statement.
If a leader will mislead a family in a murder case and coerce a statement and permit someone to be held for years, how can I not run for Sheriff when I know I can offer my home county, my people leadership that is fair and not afraid to stand up against the establishment and belief that our justice system is in trouble until we remember that at the end of the day law enforcement is here to serve and protect the citizens.
I believe that the next sheriff should be one of compassion but tough on crime, especially violent crime.
I will be a sheriff that will get out and lead occasionally working with the patrol deputies or a team of investigators.
I want to assemble a team of skilled investigators by allowing the current staff and new staff the best training possible.
If you look at the Glenview case, it was handled poorly.
From the beginning to the preparation for the courtroom, the reason I did not say end is because until justice is received the case will be a priority for me.
The current leadership was an active part of this investigation from new footage at the scene and to the conversation with the victim's family.
My opponent continues to state that he oversees the daily operations and investigations until the camera shows up about unsolved murder then there is no statement.
I will lead through the tough questions and tough times as I have each day as a law enforcement officer, council member and father.
I will place doing the right thing ahead of my political career any day,
Do you identify as a conservative, liberal, or moderate?
I consider myself a conservative but with respect for everyone to worship, vote and make life choices for themselves.
I must admit I do not believe that we should infringe on our family values or Americans beliefs to please a few.
What is your first priority if elected to office?
Simple — Make Halifax County a safer and better place to live, restore trust in law enforcement while ensuring our deputies are respected and appreciated for what they do.
Again that starts with the sheriff advocating for the deputy pay and our team getting to work for the citizens and serving them.
What needs to be done to improve mental health services in Halifax County? What would be the role of a sheriff in addressing this issue?
First take advantage of free training for each staff member at the sheriff’s department for crisis management.
I would also meet with all the mental health field partners in the county to see what we can do better together.
Before taking office if elected I would be meeting with resources such as Trillium MCO to utilize their mobile crisis center and other resources, This pandemic has increased domestic violence and suicide we need to act now.
Do you support the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes? Please explain why or why not?
I support medical use of marijuana as long as not abused.
Do you support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes? Please explain why or why not?
I have mixed emotions on this question because of the wide use among our society today.
My big objection to marijuana use is my faith-based belief.
I believe that it has some potential harmful effects from use but no more than alcohol. We spend millions of dollars a year for criminal enforcement at the local level.
Those resources may be better served removing more dangerous drugs and weapons off the street.
Legalizing marijuana could potentially put the street level dealers out of business creating a safer product and oversight.
This would also generate revenue for treatment for substance abuse education. I believe that as law enforcement officers leaders we should be preparing for it to be legalized. As a parent and believer I can not support legalization at this time.
Do you support the construction of a new county jail? Please expound upon your answer, stating how you would go about seeking support from commissioners, what alternatives you see as possible, or whether you support the concept of a regional jail.
Yes, I fully support a new and bigger jail with the increasing number of inmates.
This is a great time to talk about the jail conditions in Halifax County.
Our elected officials have not been forthcoming with the condition of the jail.
The jail has been fined for safety violations and conditions.
These fines were paid with taxpayers dollars. We live in a society where inmates are regarded as people.
My experience of working in prison and interacting with jail staff has me concerned for the staff and inmates’ safety.
The county commissioners are not talking about these conditions or a plan to improve.
The recent pay raise for deputies was long overdue yet disrespectful for our jail staff.
The reason I am tying this together with this particular question is that with the current conditions we need good staff members more than ever.
Before someone gets hurt or killed, I think it is important to explain to everyone that the county commissioners are responsible for funding a decent and safe facility.
The sheriff operates the facility that he is given and it is funded by the county commissioners.
As your next Sheriff I will share as much as possible on the jail situations to the public and will not let the commissioners hide behind red tape or ignore my responsibilities to the citizens and inmates. I would also explore what is the safest and most efficient way to stay in compliance whether is a new jail or explore a regional jail.
If I am not mistaken that could be feasible with Northampton County with the Odom closing. This would not be an ideal situation with having to transport inmates to court.
That could further strain our jail staff and possibly deputies.
This could also increase inmate escape opportunities during transports.
The jail situation needs to be studied further with the sheriff and commissioners at the table and with consulting.
Again actions needed to be taken soon to ease overcrowding, meaning less stress on jail staff and inmates, decreasing jail incidents and preventing further fines from the state.
How would you address the seemingly rising tide of youthful offenders committing violent crimes? What needs to be done to prevent this and what is the role of the sheriff in this?
My experience from working at Rocky Mount Police Department on the Neighborhood Reclamation Team serves as a guide and reminder — that community policing and community engagement works.
More involvement with schools and community programs is needed. We have to change the mindset of law enforcement officers that real police work only responds to calls and locks up bad people — anything else is the social workers' problem.
That mindset has gotten us some of the highest crime rates ever. We have to find the balance between using handcuffs with our youth and doing outreach with mental health, schools, clergy, and community resources. I would explore grant-based programs designed to reach our youth and reduce violent crimes.
We should explore resources with mental health that target drug use and mental health problems.
I believe some of our crimes committed by our youth are a result of the gang problems that are arising from a lack of parenting and activities for our youth.
The sheriff has a key role in assisting with finding a solution but it is everybody's responsibility starting with the parents.
This is where experience matters and being more than a law enforcement officer matters to make a good sheriff.
In my experience as interim Tribal Administrator I oversaw the Indian Housing Grant during that time.
I learned that HUD funds can be utilized for crime prevention and various programs for our youth.
These opportunities exist here in Halifax County and I am not familiar with its use in this county. I know from experience that the Rocky Mount Police Department received funds for officers.
I know that the Haliwa Saponi Tribe housing program has\had space for a substation at no charge in the Hollister Community that the majority of the Tribal Council supported that use in the past. This would benefit the sheriff’s department and the communities of Hollister, Medoc, White Oak and many others.
How could the dismissals in the Glenview quadruple homicides be prevented? What should have been done differently?
This could have been prevented by so many ways and should have not ever happened.
The investigations should have never been promoted by an election in 2018.
The responding officer should have secured the scene properly, the district attorney’s office should have been notified immediately.
The investigators were not obviously not prepared for this crime.
The sheriff’s office should have sought assistance earlier and utilized technology to attempt to locate evidence like cell phone activity and location.
The crime scene should have been better controlled and searched more thoroughly.
I cannot imagine allowing some of the things that occurred at this scene happen under my watch of leadership.
I still can not believe the key evidence for this case was mainly based on a co-defendant’s statement.
If that evidence exists why was the case dismissed on a recanted statement alone? Where is the evidence that was sufficient for an arrest to be made before the statement was coerced from suspect Powell?
Why hasn’t the sheriff’s office spoken out to the media outlets such as WRAL or other TV stations?
If these murders were correctly investigated explain that to the citizens and families — maybe this will restore confidence in the sheriff’s office.
While there has been a movement to increase the starting pay of deputies, how do you propose to sustain salaries and keep them competitive?
By working with the county commissioners to accomplish this.
By reducing crime and restoring confidence in the sheriff’s department so that the citizens along with me as your sheriff will demand better pay for the deputies, jailers and support staff.
We need good qualified deputies along with a good support staff.
By educating our commissioners on what is required and expected out of the deputies.
The county commissioners have to come to the realization that public safety is key to economic development. That economic development is what is going to help generate sustainable money for county growth and public safety. One without the other is doomed for failure.
That grant money is great but should not be expected forever.
Who has been your biggest influence in your career?
The desire to help those that are weak and cannot defend themselves from the aggressor.
As a kid I saw and experienced bullying without people willing to fight and stand up.
Our society is in trouble.
I always believed in public service and law enforcement even as a defiant teenager.
The military gave me direction and appreciation for what America is about — taught me what having pride is and doing the right thing when no one is looking. It taught me what it means to believe in something bigger than yourself.
The military taught me that freedom is not free. I sacrificed my first child’s birth to serve my country.
I removed the dog tags off my friend’s neck and zipped the body bag knowing they died for what they believe in.
I experienced great leadership in the military and law enforcement.
My service and commitment is the result of their sacrifice and lessons learned.
I will not embarrass them by being unethical or allowing people under my leadership to perform that way.
Please provide a brief summation of what the sheriff’s office would be like under your leadership.
It will be an agency that is led by leadership that believes in providing the best service possible and one that will promote training and integrity from the top to the bottom.
It will be focused on community policing and providing respect to all citizens — a department that will take a tougher stance on crime.
It will be a department that will use social media to fight crime and educate the public on events in real time.
It will be a department that I am not going to claim excellence as the operation standard to get your vote.
Excellence will be a goal that may be obtainable in the future.
If it were that easy as a new leader on day one we would not have the problems we have in law enforcement.
There will be mistakes made under my leadership, some will be acceptable and lessons learned and others will have consequences.
Those people that think that justice has been forgotten or is out of reach will see that I will seek closure for them.
I have set goals for my first 90 days — from responding deputies to doing better initial investigations on all crimes.
Our investigators will increase the clearance rate for crimes that will result in a rightful conviction.
I will meet with the District Attorney’s Office to discuss cold cases and how to ensure pending cases can be better disposed of with people currently in jail awaiting trial.
I will meet with the county commissioners to see how we can be the best team possible to serve our citizens.
I challenge myself to have coffee at every store or shop that sells a decent cup with anyone that wants to talk about what we can do together for a better Halifax.