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Griffin promises bodycams, politics-free sheriff's office

Lowell Griffin Lowell Griffin

Lowell S. Griffin, a candidate for Henderson County sheriff, says he would outfit deputies with bodycams, revive joint law enforcement teams that Sheriff Charlie McDonald dropped, offer the same services inside cities as outside, discontinue use of a state law allowing sheriffs to fire deputies at will and keep politics out of the office.

"The only allegiance that I will demand is to the citizens of Henderson County," he said. "I wholeheartedly believe that any person employed by the sheriff should serve the people of the county and not a political entity."

"McDonald has stated that he does not intend to use body cameras," Griffin said in publicizing his campaign platform. "I will not only support the use of officer worn cameras but fully intend to mandate their use in any official interaction with the public."

In a 2,000-word statement spelling out his goals and strategies, Griffin also pledged greater cooperation among all first-responder agencies and fiscally conservative management, saying he would "rethink and re-evaluate the needs of the county to ensure the citizens are getting what’s needed and avoiding extravagant and unnecessary spending," including a $20 million law enforcement training center McDonald sought and the Board of Commissioners OK'd.

Griffin, a Republican, was among a handful of deputies McDonald dismissed shortly after he won election to the job in November 2014. A native of Edneyville, Griffin is now a captain with the Polk County sheriff's office.

Here is the campaign statement:


Resource Supervisor

Currently the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office uses a paramilitary chain of command. This creates a multi-level agency which over manages the personnel in the field. Competent officers combined with competent field supervisors utilizing current technology, such as body worn cameras, reduce the need for excessive oversight. The H.C.S.O. currently has over a million dollars in annual payroll dedicated to administration who rarely interact with the public. As it is, corporals report to sergeants who report to lieutenants who report to captains who report to majors who report to a chief deputy who reports to the Sheriff. It is important to remember that the H.C.S.O. is a 200 man department and not a 2000 man department. Personnel can be reassigned to increase the efficiency of the department and make better use of our tax dollars.
Henderson County is a great county that encompasses a variety of geographical and demographical features. Currently the H.C.S.O. is hiring senior administrative officers from areas outside of the region at an alarming rate. A captain from the Chicago area, another captain from the Spartanburg area, and a lieutenant from a federal agency now supervise officers. While these folks may possess valid credentials, it is demoralizing for officers within the agency to realize that regardless of their training and performance, their upward mobility is limited. These top administrators hired from these other regions are not aware of any of the issues that the residents or business owners of Henderson County face.
Given the opportunity I would put field supervisors in place and allow them to perform their duties. I would then divide the county into four areas encompassing our communities and REASSIGN, not hire additional, top administrative personnel to positions overseeing these areas. The residents, business owners, and folks working in these areas, commonly called districts, would be made aware of the supervisor serving their district. These “District Captains” would be uniformed officers responsible for issues arising in their districts. Conversely, if a resident or business owner faces an issue which remained unresolved, or simply had a question, there would be a representative who is genuinely familiar with that district available to respond. Imagine having an issue where you live and knowing exactly who to call to get the answers you deserve.

Relationships with Other Agencies

Criminals do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries. A criminal may commit a crime in a town or city, and then commit a second crime in an unincorporated area, even moving on to another city or county. Many times investigators from multiple agencies investigate crimes and pursue criminals independently of each other. The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in Western North Carolina. The Sheriff has the authority to allow officers from other jurisdictions the authority to pursue criminals throughout the county. In the last few years the Henderson County sheriff has abolished the H.C.S.O. / Hendersonville Police joint narcotics task force and S.W.A.T. team.
It is time to step up to become the leading agency in the region in developing a team concept to protect the people. In order to accomplish this we must stow the egos and create the communication that is needed to be successful. I intend to work directly with the Police Chiefs and Sheriffs of allied agencies to create multiple task forces. Task forces will maximize manpower increasing efficiency of all agencies. This creates an environment which not only helps to bring justice to victims, but fosters proactive strategies while also helping save the taxpayers hard earned money.
Henderson County has some of the best emergency services and first responders in the
world. Prior to this administration, a strong and supportive relationship existed between other Henderson County emergency services and the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. I have received numerous complaints from other emergency services leaders indicating that currently, the relationship is not only strained, but continues to deteriorate. I pledge to personally maintain dialogue and involvement while assisting all emergency services throughout the county ensuring that during any crisis, the citizens receive the highest quality response possible.

Narcotics Investigation

We cannot combat a problem until we choose to admit we have a problem. I pledge to assign real resources to combat the drug issue. Under previous administrations, Henderson County initiated and was part of numerous cases seizing millions of dollars and assets from the criminals who poison our citizens. Today the narcotics investigators remain understaffed in the face of the current epidemic. Currently, Henderson County Emergency Services respond to assist patients of illicit drug overdoses at an alarming rate.
I pledge to assign real resources to combat the drug issue. Dedicating adequate resources to the drug problem is a priority. There must be resources available to investigate drug complaints at every level. The diversion of legal opiates to the black market is a particular issue in Henderson County. Providing for a dedicated detective to work solely on these drug diversion issues is paramount. I will also reinstate the criminal interdiction unit. I have worked with a successful group dedicated to interdicting criminals and drug traffickers. Interdiction officers are specially trained and experienced in road side investigations that develop information which lead to broader investigations encompassing various crimes being committed locally, regionally, and beyond.
As outlined before we MUST partner with other agencies and utilize ALL resources available to include federal, state, and local officers. Drug activity typically not only crosses county lines but routinely traverses state and national borders as well. Without developing communication and cooperation with all of our partners, we will not realize the success that the citizens of Henderson County deserve!

Politics in the work place / Job Security

I intend to not only to demand professionalism, but to display it as well. I will proudly wear the same uniform as the officers that serve the county. The uniform should not be a symbol of authority, but instead one of servitude. My servitude extends past the voters. It also encompasses the employees of the department.
I will discontinue employing the North Carolina Statute that allows a Sheriff to terminate an officer at will. In this day and age where the public demands and deserves professionalism, it is imperative to secure the best officers possible to protect the greatest people in the world. I realize that the greatest folks in the world just happen to live in Henderson County. Unfortunately, far too many experienced officers with multiple years of training and experience have been dismissed solely for political purposes. These dismissals have not only deprived the citizens of extraordinary law enforcement talent, but have cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in training. I will not substantially demote nor terminate employees without a formal review process. I believe it is wrong to use my opinion and ego as the only tools to judge any employee who serves the people. This review process will include a board of Henderson County taxpayers who have a background in management and leadership. This will also provide employees with a venue to provide their point of view concerning any issue they may face.
Politics can so easily become an area of self-importance. I will refuse to force an employee to swear political allegiance to anyone, including myself. The only allegiance that I will demand is to the citizens of Henderson County. I wholeheartedly believe that any person employed by the sheriff should serve the people of the county and not a political entity!

Body Cams

The use of officer worn cameras, commonly known as body cameras, is an imperative step in protecting BOTH the officers from unjustified accusations and ensuring public confidence. Today’s technological advances have provided the majority of the public with the ability to capture photographs and videos with audio just about anywhere at any time. Unfortunately, there are people in society who are far too willing to record events from a less than ideal perspective or only offer a partial recording in an attempt to discredit the truth. Police recordings offer a true and accurate depiction of an event. In my experience, recordings have positively affected officers in complaints the vast majority of the time. Furthermore, these cameras have become a tremendous evidentiary tool for law enforcement agencies throughout the country. McDonald has stated that he does not intend to use body cameras. I will not only support the use of officer worn cameras but fully intend to mandate their use in any official interaction with the public.


Municipalities pay county taxes . . . . . PERIOD!!! The citizens of any municipality, such as Hendersonville, deserve basic county services. Most municipalities are required to offer enhanced services, such as police, fire, waste disposal, etc. and do so through extra taxation. Being located in a municipality does not mean that these residents and business owners are no longer citizens of our county. Every taxpayer deserves the basic county services and the Sheriff should be the Sheriff who looks out for the best interests of the people in Henderson County regardless of demographics or geography. I will not only assist any municipality with assistance from the animal enforcement division, but I intend to provide the services that people pay for regardless of the location throughout the county. . . . . PERIOD!!!!!

Fiscal Responsibility

I am truly conservative. I always been conscientious of my personal finances and I am known for trying to stretch every quarter I have past 26 cents. I realize that tax dollars are real dollars paid by you, the public, and I pledge to be conservative with your money. I have worked on and adhered to budgets comprised of taxpayer money for years, including budgets at the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. When it comes to spending YOUR money we need to consider all available options. There are current issues facing the citizens of Henderson County and I very much realize that there is a cost to doing business. Currently the administration for the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office collects a significantly larger salary than any previous administration and a twenty million plus dollar training facility remains in the works. We need to rethink and re-evaluate the needs of the county to ensure the citizens are getting what’s needed and avoiding extravagant and unnecessary spending.

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The Committee to elect Lowell Griffin Sheriff will host a campaign kickoff at Grandad’s Apples, 2951 Chimney Rock Road, from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20. The campaign will provide hot dogs and a chance to meet Griffin.