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Sheriff candidates questioned at forum

The Greenville Advocate held a forum Thursday night for residents of Butler County to have an opportunity to question candidates running for the June 4 primary.

The first group of candidates to answer questions submitted by the public were the candidates for sheriff. The first question asked was, "Do you believe the Second Judicial Drug Task Force should have to notify the sheriff's office that they are working in the county, and why?"

Candidate Danny Bond was the first to answer. "The Seond Judicial Drug Task Force needs to be working in Butler County. The only thing I would like for them to do, as a courtesy, is to call and let me know that they are going to be here, and what area they are going to be in, just in case something happens. If they trust me enough to tell me who they are working on, it is all well and good. But they need to be working here full-time. If they call me, we can work together ," he said.

Sheriff Diane Harris was the second to answer. "I believe the Drug Task Force needs to be working in Butler County due to the fact that there is a great

number of drugs in the county. Also, as far as notifying us, we do need to be notified due to the fact that we may be working on the same people they are working on and it could lead to a shoot-out. I don't necessarily want to know who they are working on, but just that they are in the county."

Kenny Harden, also a candidate for sheriff, said, "I do believe the Task Force needs to be here because the more people you have fighting the war against drugs, the more you will get off the streets."

Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram, also a candidate for Butler County Sheriff, said, "I think it is time for an era of responsibility in the sheriff's office. Yes, I think we should be notified. We should know when they are going to be in town and where they are going to be working. They need to be here in Butler County."

The second question asked of the sheriff candidates was: "What is the role and what are the qualifications of sheriff?

"The roles and qualifications of the sheriff is to be a citizen of this county, be 21 years of age, and law enforcement background is not required, but helpful," said Harris. "The role of the sheriff is to protect

citizens and serve papers. The sheriff plays a large role in this county in everyday affairs, regardless of whether its drugs, court, murders or rape. The sheriff's role of this county is wide open."

"The role of the sheriff of Butler County is the chief law enforcement officer of the county. The sheriff must get along with the people, know the law and get along with other agencies. Serving the papers and being there for the needs of the citizens of Butler County also are important," said Harden.

"The role of the sheriff is very important, and I think the sheriff's office is the catalyst of making things better across Butler County. A sheriff has got to be able to work with all agencies including federal, state and local. The primary responsibility of the sheriff is to protect the lives and property of the people in Butler County," said Ingram.

"The role of the sheriff is to know the laws, execute those duties, and to protect and serve each and every citizen of the county. You have to be available for that, and you have to treat them all with respect," said Bond.

When asked what changes would be made if elected, Harden said, "I plan to go back and for the people and to continue to do a good job."

Ingram said that he would immediately go to the office and make the Butler County Sheriff's Office highly effective and highly respected. "I think as far as changes, we don't need to talk about that right now because we need to evaluate the personnel you have, see if they can do the job, and keep moving forward."

"If elected sheriff, I would evaluate each and every

aspect of the sheriff's department. For those who I elect to work for me and you, I want them to be highly trained and professional. One of the first things I want to do is give whoever is working there some job security because at this point in the game no one has it at the sheriff's office," said Bond.

At the end of the forum, each of the candidates gave a closing statement. The elected candidate will take office in January.