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Command staff will come from within agency, new sheriff says

Incoming sheriff Lowell Griffin says he plans to keep the command staff when he’s sworn in tonight, although four captains are being reassigned to lead four geographic districts that he has formed and other positions "may be moved around a little bit."


Griffin, who defeated Sheriff Charlie McDonald in the Republican primary in May, promised that he had no plans to terminate deputies based on their campaign support for McDonald, who sacked Griffin and a handful of other deputies after he was elected in 2014.
“Most of those people are friends of mine,” Griffin said. “They’re not just a supporter of a politician. They’re a supporter of the people of Henderson County. ...  I want people to pledge their support to the citizens of Henderson County. If they do that, I do that, then we’re all supporting each other. … Just about all of the top level (personnel) within the agency are going to be folks that are already in the department,” he added. “There may be some pieces that are moved around a little bit.”
Ahead of his swearing in, Griffin and his team have announced a restructuring and notified captains and lieutenants of their duties.

“It’s more than just changing the names on the doors. What we’re working towards is exactly what I campaigned on,” he said. “I’m going to cut the county basically into quadrants and I’m going to have a captain over each quadrant. These captains will be available, not only available but they’re going to become part of these communities. I want them to be available to do the community meetings, even homeowner association meetings. I want folks to know who their captain is so if there’s an issue they know who it is that’s in charge that they can go to to get answers.”
His transition team included Mills River Fire Chief Rick Livingston, a key campaign supporter; and Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue Chief President Randy Stepp; Roy Perry, a minister; Don Bowen, former Fletcher fire chief, all also retired sheriff’s deputies.

The department has four captains in administration, one who supervises the 911 center and one over the jail. He plans to keep the detention center and emergency dispatch captains. Captains over professional standards, investigations, patrol and support services have been reassigned to serve as “district captains.”

The few resignations that have occurred have been volutnary, he said.

“There have been some reassignments within the department," he said. "Some of those folks weren’t happy with the assignments they were given but they were offered actual jobs with benefits and retirement. There’s been a few that have chosen to leave but we have not terminated anyone.”
“There’s a lot of folks still in positions that were supporters, rightfully so, of Sheriff McDonald,” he said. “He was the current sheriff, he was their boss, it’s right to support him. But just because they were loyal to him does not mean I’m going to go in and just clean the slate because it’s about what’s best for the people of Henderson County. As long as they’re willing to serve the people of Henderson County that’s all I can ask.”
Griffin said last week he’ll introduce his chief deputy when he is sworn in tonight.