Will There Be a New Sheriff in Town?
Spring is a season defined by new beginnings and fresh starts. But spring cleaning isn’t just for cleaning closets. It can be for cleaning offices as well.
Spring is election season, and it is almost time for Forsyth County to decide who stays and who goes.
This year’s primary election is on Tuesday, May 6, and one of the items on the ballot is Forsyth County Sheriff.
Since 2002, Republican William T.
Schatzman has been the sheriff of Forsyth County.
Schatzman offers the citizens of this county experience. His law enforcement career began in 1970 as a Special Agent in the FBI. As an FBI Agent, he received personal awards and commendations from FBI Director Hoover and the other FBI Directors for whom he worked.
He is currently serving his third term as county sheriff, and he says that he is just as excited for the potential fourth term as he was for his first.
“I think it’s the best job in the world,” Schatzman says, “I still wake up at six every morning, and I am excited to come to work.”
Schatzman says that he is proud of the way the sheriff’s department is being run under his leadership, and he gives a lot of praise to the people working for him. According to Sheriff Schatzman, the crime rate in Forsyth County has declined 38 percent over the last ten years.
He attributes that number to a department that works together for a common goal: to enhance the quality of life for the people of Forsyth County.
“We are one team with one mission,” Schatzman says. “We all rely on each other, so it’s important to have the right people in the right places.”
One of the changes that Schatzman hopes to see if he is reelected is a budget increase for the department. Schatzman says that for the past six or seven years, the budget has hovered around $41 million. If the budget increases, he would like to add more deputy sheriffs to the department for the citizen’s safety. According to the sheriff, each deputy sheriff costs about $110,000 to hire, train and pay.
“I’m proud that even though there hasn’t been an increase in budget, there has been an increase in performance,” Schatzman says.
Under Schatzman’s leadership, the Forsyth County sheriff’s office was CALEA accredited in 2010, and it was reaccredited in 2013. The sheriff’s office is only one of five accredited counties in the state of North Carolina.
“I am working with good people who are committed to integrity, trust and compassion,” the sheriff says.
Sheriff Schatzman is passionate about leading the sheriff’s department for another four years, but two familiar faces could stand in his way. Republicans Dave Griffith and Clifton Kilby are two of Schatzman’s former employees.
Dave Griffith was Schatzman’s 1 st Chief Deputy. In 2010, Griffith ran against Schatzman for sheriff and received 46% of the votes in Forsyth County. Losing by such a close number encouraged Griffith to do things differently this campaign.
“Last time I ran, I had never run for office before,” Griffith says, “I didn’t have a campaign staff, really. It was just a lot of generous volunteers.”
Griffith took a class at Wake Forest University in late 2012 to help him better his chances for this election. The class was given by the Institute of the Public Trust, and it seeks people who ran for office and were defeated. This class teaches techniques that will help people better their chances of winning an election should they run again.
“I learned a lot. If you really want to win a race, you need professional help,” Griffith says, “I have hired a professional campaign consultant, so this time I’m not spinning my wheels.”
If Griffith is elected, one of the biggest changes he hopes to bring to the residents of Forsyth County is accessibility.
“I would be accessible to the people,” Griffith says, “If a person has a problem, I will, at some point, make time to hear their problem.”
If elected, Griffith hopes to form a sheriff’s advisory committee. It would be a committee of 12-15 people made up of business, civic and academic volunteer agencies. This committee will meet with Griffith and act as a sounding board for the community. He would also like to have a town hall-type meeting to interact with citizens once a quarter. Griffith has a lot of experience in law enforcement, and he believes that his line of work is “a calling.”
“It’s about public service, not selfservice,” says Griffith He stresses the importance of law enforcement agencies working together. When Griffith was in the Marshal Service for the Middle District of North Carolina, he assembled a violent fugitive task force. This task force was made up of a number of agencies ranging anywhere from the FBI to State Highway Patrol. Cities and counties would notify this task force if they needed to locate a violent fugitive. The task force would then come into the area, find the fugitive and return them to whatever jurisdiction made the call. This task force was recognized nationally by winning an Outstanding Small District of the Year Award, and the task force is still going strong today.
“We live in a time when if law enforcement agencies don’t cooperate with each other, they become ineffective. You need to have a network of agencies working together for a common cause.”
Griffith says that he wants the people of Forsyth County to feel safe. He wants to help them do that by listening to them and being compassionate.
“The people of Forsyth County deserve a sheriff that cares about them. They deserve a sheriff who will be conservative with their money,” Griffith says, “They deserve a sheriff who will honor not only the people of the county, but also the people who work for him.”
The third candidate running for sheriff this May is Clifton Kilby.
When Kilby was the shift supervisor at the Sheriff’s Office in 2006, he was approached by friends and colleagues about running for sheriff. He passed on running for the position at the time, but once he retired he said, “If Schatzman is still there in 2014, I will run.”
He retired in 2011 from the Sheriff’s Department, and he was only retired for 14 days when he took a job at Forsyth Tech as Law Enforcement Coordinator.
“I didn’t want to retire all together,” Kilby says, “I wanted to stay active.”
As coordinator, it is his job to not only plan the classes for the program, but also find the instructors. If Kilby is elected as Forsyth County’s new sheriff, one change he hopes to make is to involve Forsyth Tech in the training done by the Sheriff’s Department.
SHERIFF: ‘He is currently serving his third term’
“Part of the tax payer’s money already goes to Forsyth Tech, anyway,” Kilby explains, “If Forsyth Tech puts the training on instead of doing training in the Sheriff’s Department, we would get reimbursed by the State through FTE.”
Another change that Kilby wants to make is to see more field work and less busy work. He explains that the officers have to do the job that they’re told to do, and he doesn’t like that they have to spend so much time on paperwork when they could be out on the streets.
“I believe in documenting what goes on here in the County,” Kilby says, “but some departments have their reports sent to a secretary, and the secretary does the reports instead of having the officers in the field do them.”
Kilby says he would insist that an officer or supervisor review the reports, but encouraging a system like this would free up time for the officers to be out on the street instead of behind a desk.
“The busy work would end,” he says, “they would start putting boots on the ground.”
One of the issues that Kilby feels strongly about is the safety of citizens against impaired drivers. While on duty, he was hit by an impaired driver, and he broke his neck.
“Long before I was a victim of an impaired driver, I felt strongly about getting them off the road,” Kilby says, “I’ve seen a lot of innocent people get hurt out here.”
Kilby was a Standardized Field Sobriety Instructor, and he trained officers across North Carolina on how to recognize people that are impaired. He also notes that in his career, he arrested 1310 people for driving while intoxicated.
Kilby is passionate about keeping the citizens of Forsyth County safe, and he feels like he is the most qualified leader for the job.
“I know how the sheriff’s office should be run,” Kilby says, “Folks know me here. They know I’m fair. I’ve spent over half of my professional career in the sheriff’s office.” !