Editorials

Endorsement: Bibb County Sheriff

There are three highly qualified individuals running for -- what arguably is the top elected job in the county -- sheriff.

Albert Hall, David Davis and Bill Lucas all have years of experience. Davis and Hall in the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office and Lucas as a top Georgia Department of Corrections official. The job of sheriff, and the person elected to the position, has never been more important. Consolidation is on the horizon, and if approved by voters, will be the only elected position not term limited. This race was unique. For all the contested races our citizen panel participated in, this race for sheriff is the only one where deliberations over who to endorse spanned multiple days. The candidates are that good, a rarity in the political arena. Deliberations over some of the other offices could be measured in minutes rather than hours.

Hall has given 28 years to law enforcement and has a B.A. in business management as well as an MBA. He has run two divisions at the Sheriff’s Office at one time, something he says no one else on the command staff was asked to do.

In one area he handled, according to Hall, 1,000 complaints a day. Hall believes criminals don’t respect law enforcement and he plans, if elected, to form task forces for each side of town to deal with the problems of that area -- hyper-community policing -- with nine deputy chiefs, one for each of the designated districts if consolidation is approved. He promises a much more aggressive stance from the Sheriff’s Office.

Lucas has 34 years of law enforcement experience. He’s worked closely, while with the Department of Corrections, the GBI, FBI, Interpol, DOT and the Secret Service. He was a venue commander during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. He’s overseen a $900 million budget. After retiring, he’s worked as a consultant to prison systems and jails all over the country. While working in the area of compliance for the Department of Corrections, he boasts that he never lost a case in court.

Lucas wants to change the culture of the street by addressing sagging (teens who wear their pants below the butt line) to holding the district attorney and judges accountable for the revolving door that keeps the Law Enforcement Center at capacity or above.. He believes there is little cooperation between the sheriff and police chief. Lucas recognizes that many of the problems encountered in the area crime statistics come out of the Bibb County School System. Lucas would start a 365-day truancy program and step up the drug dog inspection in schools, and would target gangs with what he terms Red Dog Teams.

Davis, presently one of two chief deputies, can, as he put it, hit the ground running. He sees youth crime as one of the county’s biggest problems. Another challenge is finding qualified personnel. He grades the present force at C-plus, but he grades the department at B-plus to an A in the area of innovation.

Davis would lobby for more pay for deputies. The department has a starting salary of $27,900 and $31,000 for certified personnel. While that’s better than the $25,688 paid starters four years ago, it is still not enough to attract A-plus employees.

The panel’s choice, after much deliberation, is David Davis. He has several attributes that set him apart. He is a known commodity in every section of the county. He’s done his homework. If you call him, he’ll be there. While all the candidates are highly qualified, the panel had to decide which one would be the best fit. With consolidation approaching and the challenges that must be faced with blending two organizations into one, Davis is uniquely qualified to fill that role. He’s a known figure by both the Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office.

Beyond that, if consolidation does occur, Davis also has the smarts to work through the booby traps and can bring the political capital to bear to ensure that the city’s and county’s largest departments meld into one cohesive law enforcement entity. If consolidation does not happen, Davis has the knowledge and integrity to make sure we have the best Sheriff’s Office and vows to work more closely with the Macon Police Department. We choose Deputy Chief David Davis.

Candidates interviewed by: Bill Curry, Gigi Cabell, Sarah Gordon, Leroy Mack, Don McGouirk, Gene Strauss. George McCanless, Sherrie Marshall, Charles E. Richardson

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