Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Michael D. Andrews
Full legal name, if different: Michael David Andrews
Date of Birth: April 27, 1958
Campaign Web Site: http://andrewsforsheriff.com/
Occupation & Employer: Sheriff, Durham County Sheriff’s Office
Years lived in Durham: 56
Home phone: (919) 596-9887 Work Phone: (919) 560-0853
1. How do you rate the current functioning of the Sheriff’s Office? What’s good? What’s not so good and needs improvement? If elected, what are your priorities?
I am proud of the commitment to public service consistently demonstrated by the leadership and as part of that, building on the long tradition of community engagement of the Sheriff’s Office. One way we are improving service, with the active support of the leadership, is through new technological initiatives. Specifically, our agency has connected with citizens in innovative ways by developing a social media presence through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The agency has taken substantial steps toward implementing video visitation at the Detention Facility. We have worked to expand our efforts through the Project Lifesaver program, which enables deputies to locate and rescue citizens with cognitive disorders who are at risk of wandering. Our agency has strived to welcome new technology such as specialized software that analyzes and visualizes crime trends, allowing deputies to make optimal use of policing resources.
I have also sought to engage with members of the community. In particular, the Sheriff’s Office implemented the Creating Healthy Opportunities Inspiring Children to Have Everyday Success (C.H.O.I.C.E.S.) program, which educates young people about the consequences of crime. Our deputies also provide gang awareness presentations to parents at schools and El Centro Hispano.
While the Sheriff’s Office has made significant advancements, I continually endeavor to maintain a progressive posture and respond to the ever-changing environment of law enforcement and detention services.
In my continued role as Sheriff, I will strive to facilitate safe and humane conditions at the Detention Facility. Mindful that the number of detainees with mental health issues has increased, I am currently attempting to install additional suicide prevention vents in the Detention Facility and increase the number of detention officers and deputies who receive crisis intervention training. I am also seeking to equip detention officers and deputies with critical safety tools, such as additional deadly force alternatives and protective equipment that would protect our personnel if it became necessary to respond to a mass disturbance.
Our agency continues to meet the challenges of providing animal related service through the Animal Services Division, which the Sheriff’s Office assumed control of in July 2012. In particular, agency-wide calls for service increased 40% in 2013, many of which can be attributed to requests of the Animal Services Division. Specifically, over 11,700 calls were related to animals. This places significant demands on Animal Services staff and tele-communicators. Accordingly, I am working to bolster resources in the Animal Services Division to provide exceptional service.
2. Some residents complain of poor relations between minorities and Durham law enforcement, even alleging racial profiling. If elected, do you anticipate making changes to better serve the African-American and Latino communities?
I am aware of those complaints and would note that they have not been made about the Sheriff’s Office, but I also realize that this requires vigilance. As Sheriff, I have worked to continue a culture free of bias-based policing. Investigation and enforcement actions are conducted without regard to race or ethnicity. This is a broad effort, which begins in the recruitment and training process and continues as we serve all citizens and visitors of Durham through accountability and supervision. As a component of this effort, our agency is in the process of implementing specialized software that tracks potential areas of concern, such as citizen complaints, and provides an early warning system that allows supervisors to track possible trouble.
Our agency has also taken a proactive approach to community outreach, striving to involve citizens in the policing process. In particular, gang awareness presentations have been offered to parents at schools and El Centro Hispano. Deputies attempt to combat impaired driving through the Impaired Driving Education and Awareness (IDEA) program, which has been offered at local high schools and El Centro Hispano. Additionally, members of our organization have assisted with events at the Durham Rescue Mission, participated in National Night Out events, and provided safety presentations at churches, community centers, and schools.
3. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you’ve identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.
As Sheriff of Durham County, I have strived to ensure public safety, combat crime, and provide public access to the Sheriff’s Office. This effort has been realized in a number of ways. Under my leadership, the Sheriff’s Office pursued a number of new initiatives designed to improve our ability to deter criminal activity, and solve crimes.
Through new and enhanced technology projects, we equip deputies with tools that will aid them in protecting the public and increase citizens’ access to the Sheriff’s Office.
The agency continues to provide online crime mapping available to the public through RAIDS Online, which is accessed through the Agency's public website, http://dconc.gov/index.aspx?page=752. This permits citizens to access greater and more accurate information regarding criminal activity in a given area, or by crime type.
The agency has bolstered its crime mapping tools with its implementation of ATACRAIDS. Using data from past criminal activity, this innovative technology analyzes and visualizes crime trends. The analytic information will be provided to deputies in the field, which allows them to make optimal use of enforcement resources. ATACRAIDS also provides greater information sharing among law enforcement agencies, a vital component of combating crime in our mobile society.Social Media
During my tenure as Sheriff, the Office established its first social media presence, connecting with our citizens through the use of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These outlets allow the Sheriff’s Office to communicate public service announcements, major arrests, and activities that deputies are involved in. Moreover, these information channels also facilitate greater community involvement in the policing process. In keeping with this goal, the agency has commenced its use of Nextdoor. This free service provides a private online forum for members of specific communities. It also allows the Sheriff’s Office to provide public safety information to registered neighborhoods. In doing so, the agency is able to inform community members of issues that are tailored to their particular geographic area.
This year also saw the launch of a new website feature called “Civil Paper Lookup” with the use of existing agency resources and assistance from the County’s Information Services & Technology Department. Expected to improve customer service, citizens can now view the status of civil process paperwork dating back to one year from the date of issuance. This effort also aims to increase efficiency. In particular, the service will provide an additional outlet of information, which will lessen the telephone inquiries related to the more than 40,000 civil process papers we serve each year, allowing clerks to focus on their numerous other responsibilities.
Utilizing grant funds, the Sheriff’s Office has undertaken efforts to begin implementation of video visitation at the detention facility. During the first phase of implementation, detainees’ friends and family members will be able to schedule visitation online. The next phase will provide video visitation booths. This capability will more safely and efficiently accommodate the more than 30,000 visitors to the detention facility each year and greatly expand the ability of inmates to connect with their loved ones.
Modern law enforcement is more than the apprehension of criminals, it also involves seeking ways to deter criminal activity before it occurs, and occasionally seeking deferrals from the traditional criminal justice process. Furthermore, the Sheriff's Office has a long and distinguished tradition of community support outside of law enforcement. My initiatives in that area include:
Mental Health Training
We continue to utilize alternatives to conventional enforcement action when encountering citizens with mental illness. Through the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program, the Sheriff’s Office has partnered with other local law enforcement agencies and mental health providers to equip detention officers and deputy sheriffs with the skills they need to more appropriately identify and respond to people facing a mental health dilemma. The goal in most of these situations is to resolve a situation without the use of force and with a self-referral for mental health treatment as opposed to criminal charges. To date, over 120 detention officers and deputy sheriffs have received CIT training, and the agency continues to outfit personnel with this critical resource.
The Sheriff’s Office also has sought to educate young people about the consequences of engaging in criminal activity. In an effort to achieve this goal, the Sheriff’s Office implemented the Creating Healthy Opportunities Inspiring Children to Have Everyday Success (C.H.O.I.C.E.S.) program. Aimed at youth ages 11-16, C.H.O.I.C.E.S. provides an interactive tour for youth through the arrest and booking process. The tour culminates with the Teen Summit, which facilitates open discussions with youth about issues that they face. With the assistance of Family Academic Mentoring Empowerment (F.A.M.E.), counselors provide parenting strategies training and family mentoring. This initiative aims to equip youth with essential skills necessary to support positive choices. These complement our longstanding commitment to youth through the School Resource Officers and Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT) program. Project Lifesaver
Certain individuals may be at risk of harm due to cognitive impairment. To assist them, the Sheriff’s Office has joined the Project Lifesaver program. With the use of a small personal transmitter worn around the wrist or ankle which emits an individualized tracking signal, Project Lifesaver enables public safety agencies to locate and rescue individuals with cognitive disorders who are at risk of wandering. The Agency remains vigilant about identifying citizens that could benefit from the program, establishing relationships with medical professionals and advocacy groups to identify those most in need. We continue to fundraise and acquire the necessary equipment to satisfy this important objective.
Other Community Involvement
Agency personnel also devote considerable time beyond their official duties serving the community. In particular, deputies read to children at schools and daycares. Gang awareness presentations have been offered to parents at schools and El Centro Hispano. Deputies attempt to combat impaired driving through the Impaired Driving Education and Awareness (IDEA) program, which has been offered at local high schools and El Centro Hispano. Additionally, members of our organization have assisted with events at the Durham Rescue Mission, participated in National Night Out events, and provided safety presentations at churches, community centers, and schools.
NEW AGENCY RESPONSIBILITIES
The transition to the new Justice Center presented opportunities to increase public safety and enhance public service. The increased size of the facility required the addition of 11 deputies to supplement existing courthouse security personnel. The new facility also saw the installation of a substantial camera system. Monitored by deputies, the cameras provide an additional resource to advance courthouse safety efforts for staff and visitors. Since its opening, deputies have recovered more than 2,200 weapons and made over 500 arrests at the Justice Center. We have also created a Courthouse Response Team specifically trained to deal with shooting incidents should they occur in the Justice Center.
At the request of the Board of County Commissioners we assumed control of, and responsibility for, Animal Services in July 2012. We are now responsible for strays, dangerous dogs, rabies enforcement, to include providing vaccinations, surrender of unwanted animals, and investigating animal cruelty cases. Although working with the same number of staff as they had before, we have seen unprecedented expansion of demands for service. Agency-wide calls for service increased 40% in 2013, many of which can be attributed to requests of the Animal Services Division. Specifically, over 11,700 calls were related to animals. To meet these demands we evaluated call service requirements and shifted schedules to expand coverage by Animal Services personnel to include evenings and weekends, periods when Animal Services had not previously provided coverage.
So long as I am Sheriff we will build on these accomplishments, address the challenges of policing, and strive to deliver exceptional service to the citizens of Durham County.
4. The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.
I am committed to community engagement as a critical component of effective public service. As the Sheriff’s Office strives to develop relationships with the public, we are mindful of Durham’s diversity and endeavor to maintain an agency that is responsive to the needs of all of our citizens. In particular, I recognize the need to expand contact with the Hispanic/Latino community and involve these citizens in the policing process. Accordingly, I am seeking to bolster our bilingual ability within the agency and increase our participation in community events to facilitate greater rapport with the Hispanic/Latino community. A law enforcement agency that is responsive to the needs of all its citizens can build trust, promote a greater sense of community, and realize greater effectiveness in crime reduction efforts.
5. Despite recent growth in business and urban development, Durham is perceived by some to be a place of persistent crime. Is that a fair assessment?
While crime is a persistent issue in our society, not just in Durham, the Sheriff’s Office endeavors to combat crime through a diverse array of efforts. In particular, our agency relies on innovative technology, community outreach, and proactive crime prevention measures. Fortunately, the crime rate in the County of Durham, which does not include the City limits, decreased 21% in 2013.
6. Durham’s jail and courts are full of drug defendants. Has the so-called War on Drugs been taken too far?
Illegal drug activity, and the crimes that can result from drug use, need to be addressed. However, this is not a matter that should be relegated solely to law enforcement agencies. Specifically, the criminal justice system should utilize assistance from community partners to address rehabilitation needs and the underlying issues that often lead to substance abuse. Accordingly, our agency supports the use of drug court to provide an alternative to incarceration. Additionally, we host the Substance Abuse Treatment and Recidivism Reduction (STARR) program and an additional component for STARR graduates, the STARR GRAD program, for inmates in the Detention Facility.
7. What do you think about the decriminalization of marijuana?
As Sheriff, I will continue to enforce existing federal, state, and local laws. North Carolina law prohibits active sentences for minimal marijuana possession violations, and I support that provision. Further, minor marijuana possession offenses remain among our lowest law enforcement priorities. Our agency focuses on preventing crimes against people and property.
8. Some inmates have complained about unsanitary jail conditions. Is there any way to eliminate such complaints?
The Sheriff’s Office has worked to provide a safe and sanitary facility. Recently, I directed that cells that had been defaced with graffiti to be repainted and we are more closely monitoring those conditions to stop inmates from defacing their cells. Under my leadership, we have upgraded kitchen equipment, replaced flooring, and exchanged outdated laundry equipment for new models. Our staff constantly monitors these and other related issues to ensure that we are providing an appropriate confinement environment. Moreover, we encourage inmates to voice concerns and we strive to address any in an expedient manner.
9. When you suspect a newly admitted inmate is an undocumented immigrant, do you feel the need to report it to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement?
We continue to comply with the requirements of North Carolina General Statute 162-62, which requires us to run checks with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when any person is charged with a felony or impaired driving offense.
10. 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.
I have and will continue to enforce the State prohibition against internet sweepstakes businesses, so long as the law is in effect. The Sheriff’s Office has proactively responded to citizen reports, conducted thorough investigations and initiated enforcement actions. While this has generated some public resistance, I will continue to enforce the North Carolina law related to internet gambling.
11. Identify some areas in the sheriff’s department budget where money could be cut and others where more funding is needed.
In recent years, the Sheriff’s Office lost 21 positions, which impaired our ability to serve the citizens and visitors of Durham County. For instance, our ability to combat juvenile truancy and elder abuse were diminished because of the lessened capacity to devote workforce resources to specific issues. Instead, existing employees were required to absorb these specialized functions. We have not regained these positions. Accordingly, I find it difficult to identify areas where the agency budget could withstand further reductions.
As it relates to funding needs, my current budget priorities are to provide additional suicide prevention measures in the Detention Facility, equip deputies and detention officers with additional alternatives to deadly force, and obtain additional in-car cameras to promote officer safety and enhance transparency. Additionally, I am seeking funding to add positions, some of which would bolster the resources of the Animal Services Division to adequately respond to citizen complaints and effectively enforce laws related to animal protection.