DOBSON — Another retired law enforcement officer has emerged in the race for sheriff.
Though the election will not occur until 2018, three have already declared their intention to seek the Republican nomination to run for the post.
E. Vann Tate, who retired as a sergeant from the N.C. Highway Patrol in 2016, is the latest of those.
Tate, 52, is a resident of the Pine Ridge area. He had worked as a school resource officer at Surry Central High School for the Surry County Sheriff’s Office since his retirement, and he resigned that post on Tuesday to run to head the office.
He is married with two children.
“I’ve been working with the public in Surry County for 15 years,” said Tate, noting a decade and a half of his 22-year career as a trooper was spent in Surry County.
Prior to his time with the state agency, Tate worked for four years for the Mount Airy Police Department. He has been a sworn officer since 1988.
Tate said he didn’t sit still long after retiring form the Highway Patrol, almost immediately accepting the resource officer position, a post which has allowed him to interact with tomorrow’s leaders.
“I’ve had the opportunity to listen to young adults and hear what they see and what they are looking for in the future,” explained Tate. “I’ve tried to keep them on the right track as adulthood approaches.”
Tate said one matter with which those youngsters may tangle is getting tied up in the county’s drug epidemic.
“Once you take the drugs out of the equation, communities become safer,” said Tate.
He explained that local law enforcement agencies can only do their jobs in combating drugs. Once those drug dealers and users go before the courts system, law enforcement officers often see their hard work end in a “slap on the wrist,” however.
While Tate admitted there is not much he could do as sheriff to influence the courts, he has his own ideas as to how a department under his leadership can take on drugs.
“We have to keep the pressure on them,” explained Tate. “If they can’t sell the drug here, they will have to move elsewhere.”
Tate said he has some changes in mind at the office to better put the heat on drug dealers. He believes some of the talent within the office could be better utilized in combating drugs.
Another matter he would address as sheriff is the office hours at the sheriff’s office, said Tate. Rather than shutting the doors at 5 p.m., the office should remain open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. Citizens should have a place they can go to make a complaint at any hour.
Tate also said he believes command staff spend too much time behind a desk, and not enough time patrolling alongside those under their command.
“When I was a sergeant, I did my job at the office,” said Tate. “Then, I was out patrolling with my troopers.”
He said deputies are sometimes called off of their patrol shift to receive a report, even though those in leadership positions are available at the office.
Surry County’s residents will see a Sheriff Tate out and about in the community, in the courtroom providing security and on patrol, said Tate.
Tate also noted he would back a move to increase deputy pay and one to add four deputies, one to each patrol shift. The increased manning is part of his plan to staff the office at all times.
“I’m a man of integrity,” said Tate, noting his priorities in life are “God, family and business.”
I always follow the Golden Rule, said Tate, “I treat everyone as I would want to be treated.”
Tate added that he is ready to run a campaign. Since announcing countless individuals have offered their support for his candidacy.
Tate joins what is already becoming a crowded field for the GOP nomination for sheriff in 2018. Jamie Goad, who resigned from the sheriff’s office as a sergeant in 2015 and Steve Hiatt, who retired from the office as a lieutenant in 2012, have already announced they will seek the position.
The winner of the Republican primary is likely to square off in the general election against Sheriff Jimmy Combs, who was recently appointed to fill the unexpired term of Sheriff Graham Atkinson. Atkinson stepped down to accept an appointment by Gov. Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Post-Release and Parole Commissionin Raleigh.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.