I was “channel surfing” yesterday (Tuesday, July 15) when, at 4:30, I stumbled upon an interview with Sheriff Candidate Clint Shrum on GCTV 6. It took me a couple of minutes to find something on which to take notes. I listened as I searched for paper, so the initial notes may not be complete. Also, I did not get the name of the lady who conducted the interview.
In his opening comments he said that he could provide leadership, for the department, and that he had extensive experience, including as a law enforcement instructor. He went to school in Grundy County and knows the county well, and he has established relationships in the county. Finally, the mentioned he has had additional training that would increase his qualifications for sheriff.
Question Subject: His priorities as sheriff?
Shrum: He sees misuse of prescription drug use as a major problem.
He expects the sheriff’s department to be a community oriented service agency, staffed by professional, pleasant officers, and partner with local agencies and be help their programs.
He did mention that he was aware of the possibility of applying for grant money.
Question Subject: How would he reduce crive in the county?
Using data is a great resource. We can use data to determine the types, frequency and locations of crime so we can focus our efforts. We can obtain records of criminal activity from the TBI, traffic analysis, the Department of Safety, among others. This approach is affordable.
Question Subject: Safety of inmates and the prison facility?
Shrum: The jail, built in 1971-1972, is “dilapidated,” and it has “not been kept up.” The way the current jail is designed, they cannot classify prisoners and separate violent and non-violent prisoners. He recommends going to “prison orange” uniforms for certain prisoners to make easier to identify them. He suggested the jail was designed as a 26 bed facility.
The current jail is not safe?
New jail will fix classification issue.
Says he is not sure of the $7 million cost for a new jail—he has not seen the data from the county commission. The new facility would improve control of inmate movement. As planned, it would be walking distance to the courthouse.
Question Subject: Safety on county highways and roads.
Shrum: Mentioned the “ three E’s”: Enforcement, Education, and Engineering.
Again, feels data analysis will provide guidance on how to improve each of these.
Is concerned about distracted and reckless driving.
Shrum: Says he has the Experience, Education, and Law Enforcement background to lead the sheriff’s department. He knows Grundy County and understands the needs and concerns of the people of the county.
As I said, I was distracted during the very first few minutes of the interview, but:
I did not hear a question about, nor any significant discussion of the sheriff’s budget other than the proposed total budget of $1.3 million.
I did not hear a question about, nor do I recall any mention of issues (if any) related to deputy morale or pay and benefits.
I did not hear a question about, nor do I recall any mention of “transparency” into the department budget.
I did not hear a question about, nor do I recall any mention of specifically how the sheriff’s department might interact with other county agencies.
In summary, it was difficult for me to really assess Mr. Shrum’s approach to effectively running the sheriff’s department. This was due, in part to the shorter time period and fewer questions.
At this point, the only resources I have to really compare the two candidates for sheriff are the debate on this past Saturday (Baker) and the GCTV 6 interview (Shrum).
Although either candidate may be qualified, based on the information readily available, at this time I would vote for Mr. Baker for several specific reasons: (1) for me, one of the key roles of the sheriff is the fiscal management of the sheriff’s department budget, which Mr. Baker covered in some detail with specific actions to take; (2) Mr. Baker offered more specific responses to topics like a plan to deal with possible school violence and fiscal transparency, (3) Mr. Baker expressed concern for and looking for a ways to improve financial conditions for deputies, including applying for grant money and (4) Mr. Baker seemed to have even more, and more varied experience as a law enforcement officer.