Office sought: Sheriff
Political Party: Democrat
Name: Cary Cooper
Office sought: Sheriff
Political Party: Republican
Occupation: Retired from Floyd County police, 2003-12
1) What sets you apart as the best candidate for this seat? Why do you want this job?
I am the most qualified candidate to be sheriff. I have a proven record that I stand on and every single thing I have promised our community that we would accomplish we have. We strive to do more for our community than just the basics but we still have some areas we can improve upon; such as preparing our staff to better handle mental health inmates, revamping and improving our jail infrastructure and utilizing new technology to work smarter with less in this economy. That is why I am still excited about being your sheriff.
I offer this community a diverse skill level. I understand the importance of each individual working in the capacity of law enforcement. I also understand the needs of this community. Once elected Sheriff, I will apply my knowledge and experience to the position to ensure the community needs are met, at the same time provide for career enrichment of employees. Training future leaders within the Sheriff’s Office is an essential tool. Providing these future leaders opportunities to enhance and improve their careers in law enforcement is transferred to their service.
Over the years I have dedicated my service to the Citizen’s of this county, as well as this country, and obtained leadership skills that I am ready to put to use as Sheriff of Floyd County.
2) What would you like to do in the next four years if elected?
The main priority for us right now is improving our jail infrastructure. Recent budgets have required us to put some improvements on hold which maintains the jail properly. County Manager Blaine Williams and the Board of Commissioners have assured me they are committed to helping us get that job done and we are working on a phased plan now. Secondly, we haven’t been able to prepare our staff for such a quick increase in mental health inmates at the jail and we have to catch up in that area for safety and security reasons. We are planning an effective response now and I also want to bring our staffing up to its 2008 level. These are my priorities if I’m elected to continue as sheriff.
I would like to develop leadership training for the employees of the Sheriff’s Office to further enhance their careers; deter the selling, manufacturing and use of methamphetamine in Floyd County; produce and publish a quarterly expenditure report detailing all monetary transactions regarding the Sheriff’s Office budget and concentrate on maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of every dollar allotted in the budget.
3) What do you think is the sheriff’s most important role?
That requires a two-part answer and basically it’s to be a community leader and not just the chief law enforcement officer of the county. My personal responsibility and priority as sheriff is to handle my 10 constitutional responsibilities everyday along with my staff which includes running the jail, serving the courts and the safety of the courthouse and serving warrants, civil papers to name the major ones. However, citizens probably do not realize exactly how much a sheriff is called upon to assist in a wide area regarding community issues, prevention, overall community safety, inter-agency cooperative efforts, etc. So, to be a successful sheriff, I believe it is necessary to be involved in the whole community and not just the public safety efforts alone.
As chief law enforcement officer of Floyd County, the Sheriff has a duty to engage in open dialog and regular meetings with law enforcement officials and County Commissioners to assess and evaluate the changing needs of this community. As a leader and a manager it is the role of the Sheriff to set into motion a plan that supplies the citizens maximum results.
4) How can you deal with the rise in the number of mentally ill that are being arrested after the closing of Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital?
The best way is to take a proactive look at how we are preparing ourselves as a profession to handle this influx of mental health inmates into our jail population. We do not train near enough in our basic mandate training for our staff to have even a general idea of how to handle mental health or severe cases among our inmate population or on the street. We have to continue to work with outside experts, such as Jim & Bonnie Moore with NAMI, who have been a blessing to us in better preparing our staff and at a minimal cost as well. Our goal is to eventually have all of our staff certified in crisis intervention training. In combination with getting our staff numbers back in order, these efforts should help us be better prepared both in the jail and on the streets.
First, we need to recognize there is a demand that we gain an understanding of this complex issue. It is imperative that we seek the assistance of organizations that specialize within this area, and actively pursue avenues that provide alternatives to incarceration within a county facility.
5) How will you handle a possibly smaller budget with an increase in needs at the sheriff’s office ?
I believe we will have to continue to take the same approach we have in recent years in how we view spending, increasing or maximizing potential revenue sources and prioritization. The discriminatory spending or fat in our budget has been cut out over the last four years already and there wasn’t much to begin with. We have had to take a new approach in how we tackle priority capital needs as we did this year with the jail roof in turning a $750,000 project into a project at just over $200,00 by using a lot of extra effort and inter agency help and cooperation. I believe this makes us better in the long run and certainly more appreciative of our operations. Prioritizing our capital needs and the phasing in of the work where it’s possible, outside of emergency needs, are essential during this time of lost county revenue sources.
We will identify the needs and priorities through a continuous assessment of a line item budget. We will work closely with County Commissioners to ensure all needs are met and remove unnecessary spending. We will work to improve our efficiency at all levels, and work to provide outside revenue by positioning the Sheriff’s Office to engage in negotiations with outside agencies and other sources.