Richard Buchanan | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Richard Buchanan

Candidate for Durham County Sheriff


Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Richard Buchanan

Full legal name, if different: Richard Daniel Buchanan

Party: Democratic

Date of Birth: Dec. 4, 1947

Campaign Web Site:

Occupation & Employer: Retired Durham County Sheriff’s Office, currently part-time NCCU

Years lived in Durham: Born and raised in Durham

Home phone: 919 530-1652 Work Phone: 919 530-5804


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?

The best part of the current administration is their continued emphasis on professionalism throughout the ranks through continued support of the international accreditation process. The worst thing about the current administration is communication both internally and externally. It will be a priority of mine to improve dialogue not only within the agency but throughout the greater community.

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?

This proves my point that the Sheriff’s Office can do a much better job of communicating with the population it serves. In order to deliver better services to the community one must first ask the community for their expectations. Open dialogue with all segments of the community we serve is the road map to meeting their expectations. It will not only point out our weaknesses but point out our strengths and allow us to enhance services we provide.

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 a retired Major with the Durham County Sheriff’s office I advocated for those in the community that were disenfranchised and for causes that were unheralded.

I was a founding father of Rape Crisis of Durham which has evolved into the Durham Crisis Response Center. I also partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Durham, the M.S. Society and Durham’s Long Ball Program. I have a proven track record of pulling together individuals from diverse backgrounds to solve difficult issues within our community.

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.

My community outreach program will help foster such a goal. In order to achieve this goal I will reach out to the community to identify their concerns and form a partnership to build a stronger Durham.

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?

No it is not a fair assessment. Because Durham sits between Wake and Orange counties which have significantly lower violent crime rates Durham’s crime rate gets more attention in the press. However, there is room for improvement in the reduction of violent crime and if elected Sheriff I will make it a priority in reducing violent crime in Durham County.

6. Durham’s jail and courts are full of drug defendants. Has the so-called War on Drugs been taken too far?

The war on drugs has led to a higher incarceration rate for some segments of our community. I believe that the answer to solving our dependency on drugs lies not in incarceration for non- violent offenders. I believe our community would be better served by community corrections programs for non-violent criminals that involve successful completion of drug treatment programs.

7. What do you think about the decriminalization of marijuana?

It’s coming. I believe our community would be better served and our tax dollars better spent by decriminalizing marijuana. If we tax marijuana similar to the way we tax alcohol and cigarettes we would be able to better fund drug treatment programs for those in need of such programs.

8. Some inmates have complained about unsanitary jail conditions. Is there any way to eliminate such complaints?

If you are asking if there is any way to eliminate sanitary conditions the answer is yes. If you are asking is there any way to eliminate inmate complaints the answer is no. The answer to eliminate unsanitary conditions in the jail lies within a partnership between staff and inmates.

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?

My stance on this is unconventional. I believe the American Judicial system is quite capable of dispensing justice to everyone on American soil.

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 believe that my stance on decriminalizing marijuana answers this question.

11. Identify some areas in the sheriff’s department budget where money could be cut and others where more funding is needed.

I don't believe any of the money should be cut. I believe that community leaders for years have been playing politics with the Sheriff's budget. There Is not one example in this country where communities have been successful in reducing violent crime without fully funding their law enforcement efforts. Safe communities require an investment In the law enforcement function.

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