Full Legal Name: Albert Lindy Pendergrass
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Lindy Pendergrass
Office Sought/District: Sheriff of Orange County
Date of Birth: 05-13-1934
Home Address: 400 Severin Street Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Mailing Address (if different from home):
Campaign Web Site: www.reelectpendergrass.org
Occupation & Employer: Sheriff/Orange County Sheriff's Office
Years lived in Orange County: 75
Home Phone: 919-929-5535
Work Phone: 919-245-2923
1. If elected, what are your top priorities and how will you achieve these goals?
Our first priority is to meet the budget challenges facing our county. We will be seeking grants and revenue as in the past. This year our budget was $10,160, 631. We obtained $2,957,200 in revenue which off-set our budget to $7,203,431. We expect to obtain a grant for interoperability and will phase over to 800 MHz radios. Our third priority is to fully implement project life saver for assisting in locating lost children and adults who have wandered from care takers.
2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
There are several programs we are involved in which we believe will help all citizens and assist in attaining your mission.
Our School Resource Officers began in the 1990's as a stopgap measure to prevent behavior problems in the High School during lunch periods. Deputies are a day-to-day fixture on all county school campuses. They act as instructors, role models, mediators, counselors and trouble shooters in averting potential disturbances in the student body. This is best illustrated by the Orange High incident involving the shotgun and explosives attack in 2006. The quick thinking, training and immediate response by the SRO in apprehending the offender, prevented a more serious or catastrophic outcome.
Another unconventional program was first instituted by our Office almost 20 years ago. This was a specialized unit to manage a recurring problem in Orange County which included domestic situations involving court ordered requirements. To meet this challenge our Crisis Unit was formed in 1991 on a grant. This funding allowed the placement of qualified and skilled persons responding to the escalation of domestic incidents. With the passage of the NC Domestic Violence Act of 95, the General Assembly addressed and recognized, as a crime, domestic violence against women. The Legislature mandated required assistance and procedures be provided by law. Our Crisis Unit began with one person. It now has 2 full time positions.
In 2009, the unit assisted 1109 victims of domestic violence. The unit acts to provide victims with assistance in obtaining court orders, acting as advocates with victims in the courtroom and aiding victims to obtain emergency housing if needed. The Domestic/Civil process can last 1 month up to a year. Crisis personnel continue throughout as a lifeline and a safety net for victims of domestic violence. Our unit assists all law enforcement agencies in Orange County, various Sheriff's Offices in North Carolina and domestic court orders received for service here from across the United States.
Our goal is to involve the citizens in our efforts to reduce crimes against property. Today we have over 65 individual active community watch groups in the county. Citizen awareness and participation in the reduction or preventing crime is a continuing effort. The solid and dedicated participation of citizens, has allowed us to maintain a diminished property crime rate by national standards in Orange County. We daily e-mail to over 855 members of our community watch members crime reports of any activity in their area. Utilization of a "citizens e-mail force" provides information which has proven success to the credit of the practice. Providing community watch group's relevant information in a timely manner has more than once proved invaluable to an apprehension of a responsible individual. These alerts are also sent as notifications involving lost children and/or missing or elderly persons to alert a given community.
3. Identify a principled stand you have taken or would be willing to take if elected, even if you suspect might cost you popularity with voters.
4. In some jurisdictions, local law enforcement are being called upon to function as de facto border patrol agents, including detaining persons suspected of being illegal immigrants. What is your opinion about the role of local law enforcement in enforcing U.S. immigration law? How will your office handle the "Secure Communities" program and how transparent will the process be?
As the reply to each question is the subject of both queries; for purposes of brevity and repetition, my response will be a collective statement covering the respective issues in #3 and #4.
In January of 2009, there was erroneous information involving the federal initiative, the Secure Communities 287(g) and the Orange County Sheriff's Office. It was reported the Sheriff's Office was an active participant in the ICE venture identifying and deporting illegal aliens. This was, by some, viewed as in conflict with the resolution passed by the Orange County Commissioners in 2007, going on record in opposing the procedure.
This undertaking, by the Department of Homeland Security through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), identifies and works to remove criminal aliens in local jails and state prisons.
Provisions of the federal law, the acronym, ACCESS, (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security) allowed for contractual accommodations involving, training and "deputizing" local authorities to function empowering them to enforce federal statues. For local agencies to participate there must be a Memorandum of Agreement executed between the DHS and non-federal personnel. Prior to this extensive broadening of governmental authority, under the Patriot Act, local and state law enforcement had no authority to act on federal laws.
Simultaneously with enactment of the federal statue, 50 states and territories were required to amend their laws regarding fingerprinting and positive identification of all persons incarcerated or imprisoned in state and local detention centers.
A technological requirement rerouted booking information and procedures, mandating all data would be "shared" re-directed from IDENT/IAFIS fingerprint collection stations. In N.C. originally the inmate datum was only forwarded to the State Bureau of Investigation and the F.B.I. The altered measure broadened the access of information to include DHS/ICE.
For this to be accomplished, a refurbishing of the IDENT/IAFIS fingerprint system in all states required a period of adjustment. Localities updates were phased into the system over a period of eighteen months. Each IDENT/AFIS machine was outfitted with an interoperability capacity to comply with data distribution. Orange county and others in the triangle, were among the first in the state of be updated and connected to the "new" system in 2008.
In January of 2009, a clamor arose regarding the Sheriff's Office participation in the 287(g). It was through a series of assumptions, misinformation, and confusion regarding actual duties and perceived actions of Detention officers.
As neighboring agencies: Wake, Durham and Alamance counties have a de facto agreement with DHS/ICE. These departments do aggressively pursue illegal immigrants at the behest and with full authority of DHS/ICE.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office has no Memorandum of Understanding or compact with DHS/ICE. Our office does not conduct concerted campaigns or operations directed at aliens. The sole and singular connection of our office and DHS/ICE is under what is required by law regarding information gathering. In our booking process/fingerprints, anyone in custody must be entered into the IDENT/IAFIS system according to law. Access by DHS/ICE to the information, is allowed by legislative mandate in all 50 states. The data entered into the system is in accordance and complying with the law; we can do no less.
During the period of allegations of our "partnership" with DHS/ICE, there was less than a supportive tone in the media and several communities. The Independent accurately reported the events which transpired at the Commissioners meeting and my replies to their questions. I fully understand and can appreciate how this information can be used and the disruption of the lives of those involved. Yet, I am sworn to uphold the law as it is written; not as I may wish it was otherwise. The process I presented to the Commissioners is strictly in accordance and in compliance with N.C. general statues.
I did receive information, phone calls and visits from citizens, who were deeply distressed with the DHS/ICE accessibility to information of persons booked and fingerprinted in the county jail. But my explanation again, was as I had previously stated, "I must enforce and obey the law as passed by the legislature; until it is changed, rewritten or removed. I recognize your objections and concerns. Even so, I ask for your continued support. My position is determined by the law and I have neither alternative nor discretion in the matter." I prepare a report each month listing all persons that have been picked-up by immigration; the report is forwarded to Orange County Human Relations.
5. Roadblocks and checkpoints can be used as a way to racially profile drivers and passengers. What policies should be in place in regards to roadblocks and checkpoints? Under what circumstances should they be used?
Our policy for checkpoints is written and used only for checking vehicles in areas where we have had reported speeding. We set up checkpoints and do driver license checks. We file a written report approved by the on-duty supervisor before and after the check point. Our record for citations is on file with the SBI and anyone checking will note our citations do not reflect we are in violation of any profiling.
6. What is your opinion on public access to officers' disciplinary records? What types of records should be open?
If criminal charges have been made they should become public record. For internal disciplinary matters the files should remain closed.
7. Given this year's budget issues, Identify some areas in the sheriff's department budget where money could be cut and others where more funding is needed.
We have lost 2 deputy positions and have had to reduce operational costs. With these reductions we will reorganize to meet the loss. We are continually using methods to reduce fuel cost, other than being frugal we can not do more at this time.
8. Please access current jail capacity and future needs. How do you balance the two? Are inmates receiving adequate services necessary for rehabilitation, their health and safety? What would you change?
We are in the process of adding approved budgeted bed space in our jail. We average during Superior Court week having 25 or more inmates in on writs (transfers from other correctional institutions), this places us in an overcrowded situation for normally 4-5 days. With the additional jail space we would not be over crowded. Our average daily in 2009 was 160. We have a Medical Contract which provides a nurse on duty at all times with a doctor visiting the jail 3 times weekly. The doctor is however on call 24 hours daily. We provide a physiologist 4 days weekly for Inmates to consult with. We continually train our staff in detection of those in need of mental health or substance abuse care. We also use OPC Mental Health to assists with inmate problems.