Q: Haywood County has a growing Hispanic population. How will you address language barriers in serving that population?
Hollifield: Would sign deputies up for Spanish classes at the community colleges and would employ an interpreter.
Suttles: Agrees that deputies should take Spanish classes. Also, says the department currently has translators that help officers communicate.
Allen: “I think the language barrier is a serious problem in our county. I think officers in this county should take Spanish classes, and I would promote classes for deputies at the community college.”
Ezell: Understanding the “cultural differences between where they grew up and our area,” is critical. For example, the way a question is asked can take on a different meaning according to cultural context.
Gilliland: Overcoming the language barrier is most important.
Q: If appointed, would you seek re-election?
Kenneth Hollifield: Yes.
Bobby Suttles: Yes.
Albert Allen: Yes. Allen said he had already planned to run for sheriff in 2010, and that his campaign had been in the works for 8 months when the position opened up earlier than expected.
Raymond Ezell: Yes.
Russ Gilliland: Yes, and like Allen, Gilliland already had a core group of people lined up to help him when he planned to run for sheriff in 2010.
Q: How will you fight drug problems in the county?
Hollifield: Would create a drug eradication team. He would also meet with members of a different community on different nights to collect citizen input. Also touts drug education in schools.
Suttles: Says marijuana is still the prevalent drug in Haywood County. Also said the sheriff’s office has applied for a grant to create an enforcement team of five people that could monitor I-40, a major drug route.
Allen: Working cooperatively with other agencies and groups and members of the community. With this approach, “we can beat the drug dealers.”
Ezell: Create a task force; work with surrounding counties to share information; educate citizens on signs of drug activity and educate kids in the school system about the dangers of drugs.
Gilliland: Teach drug education in schools. He would also send his deputies to the same drug and addiction school that Gilliland himself attended.
Q: How would you handle complaints within the sheriff’s department?
Hollifield: Encourages creation of an internal affairs committee, consisting of someone in the detention center, deputies, and detectives.
Suttles: A complaint currently travels through the chain of command, going from seargant to lieutenant to the chief deputy, then to the sheriff. “If it’s something of a serious nature, we might have an outside agency handle it.”
Allen: “If it’s something internally, I think it should be handled internally.” Also, facts of an investigation that could reflect on the department as a whole should be shared with employees of the sheriff’s department.
Ezell: Would be open to getting someone from outside the department, who has an impartial viewpoint, to conduct an investigation. “That way, it doesn’t hurt people within the department. If you gave them that investigation, it just causes problems.”
Gilliland: “Most of the time, anything that comes up is normally taken care of through the chain of command, but if it’s necessary to bring in outside counseling that’ something we could very well do.”