Pubdate: Tue, 17 Oct 2006
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2006 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Author: Michael Hewlett
Note: The Journal does not publish LTEs from writers outside its 
circulation area


Stokes, Chandler Campaign to Become Davie Sheriff

For the two candidates competing to become the sheriff  of Davie 
County, the major issue facing county law  enforcement is the 
increasing problem of illegal drugs.

"The drug problem in Davie County is being ignored,"  said Andy 
Stokes, the Republican candidate.

He beat long-time sheriff Allen Whitaker in May during  the 
Republican primaries. Stokes will face Danny  Chandler, the 
Democratic candidate, on Nov. 7.

Chandler also wants to tackle the drug problems. "A lot of your 
crimes come from drugs," he said.

They said that drugs have become increasingly prevalent  as Davie 
County continues to grow. According to  statistics from the N.C. 
Department of Justice, the  population in Davie County grew from 
29,735 in 1996 to  37,927 in 2005.

Over that period, the number of arrests made in Davie  jumped 128 
percent. In 1996, 12.6 percent of all  arrests were for the sale or 
possession of illegal  drugs. Arrests for the sale or possession of 
drugs  accounted for 5.8 percent of all arrests in 2005.

If elected, Stokes said he would establish a narcotics  and 
drug-education unit in the sheriff's office and  would work to 
increase cooperation between the  sheriff's office and other 
law-enforcement agencies,  such as the Mocksville and Cooleemee 
police departments.

"You get so much more done when you're working  together," he said.

He also said he would expand the county's DARE (Drug  Abuse 
Resistance Education) program to middle- and  high-school students.

"I'm convinced that to solve this problem that the  answer will come 
from the kids themselves," he said.  "The kids are smarter than we 
give them credit for."

Chandler said he also would like to look at ways to  improve the DARE 
program and agrees with Stokes that it  should be expanded to middle- 
and high-school students.

He also would like to form a drug task force to tackle  the problem 
and increase coordination among  law-enforcement agencies throughout 
the county.

Both promote their extensive law-enforcement  experience.

Stokes, who ran unsuccessfully for sheriff in 1998,  spent 31 years 
with the N.C. Highway Patrol and worked  as a magistrate for Davie County.

Chandler worked for 20 years as a deputy in the Davie  County 
Sheriff's Office and now works at the Mocksville  Police Department.

Both say that another of their top priorities is to  restore 
credibility to the sheriff's office.

Over the past two years, the sheriff's office has been  the subject 
of three investigations by the State Bureau  of Investigation.

The first started after an anonymous letter alleged  misconduct by 
Lt. Jimmy Phipps. The allegations  included time-card fraud and 
misuse of county property.

District Attorney Garry Frank concluded last year that  the sheriff's 
office had problems but said that they  did not warrant criminal prosecution.

A second SBI investigation last year looked into an  incident in 
which Whitaker prevented arrest warrants  from being served on a 
friend of Phipps' who was  accused of impersonating a law-enforcement officer.

Frank said this spring that there was a "strong  appearance of 
impropriety and favoritism" in the case,  but he gave Whitaker the 
benefit of the doubt and did  not press criminal charges.

The second investigation also looked into the  disappearance of 
marijuana that had been seized by the  sheriff's office. Kevin Adams, 
a sheriff's deputy, was  fired and charged with misdemeanor marijuana 
possession. He was found not guilty after a one-day  trial.

A third SBI investigation resulted in a 15-count  indictment in July 
against former Detective Robert  Trotter, who is accused of taking 
more than $12,000, 11  guns and a diamond-ring set from the evidence 
room that  he oversaw. The case has not yet come to trial.

The sheriff's office also has had major turnover, with  many 
sheriff's employees either being fired or abruptly  resigning.

Stokes said he would make some personnel changes if elected.

"I think there is a bit of top-heaviness in the  supervision side of 
the department," he said. "I do not  plan to have a chief deputy or a 
lieutenant of  enforcement. I plan a whole new administrative  structure."

He said he would have supervisors in each section of  the department, 
and that those supervisors would report  to him.

Chandler declined to say what kind of personnel changes  he would 
make if elected.

"If you don't have good management and good  supervision, you're not 
going to have a good  department," he said.
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