Four square off in sheriff’s primary


By Jeff Linville - [email protected]



The four men competing in the Republican primary for Surry County sheriff are seen at a forum last month at Temple Baptist Church. From left are Jamie Goad, Steve Hiatt, Ervin Odum and Vann Tate.


Jeff Linville | The News

Tate


Jeff Linville | The News

Odum


Jeff Linville | The News

Goad


Jeff Linville | The News

Hiatt


Jeff Linville | The News

In this format, all four candidates were asked for the same background information. The first three questions are also the same, with an additional question specific to each person. The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will take on Sheriff Jimmy Combs in the November race.

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Name: Vann Tate

Age: 53

Home: Pine Ridge

Education: Associate of Science, SCC, 1987; Bachelor of Science, Gardner-Webb, criminal justice, 1991; basic, general and advanced law enforcement certifications; basic and advanced CISM certifications; Highway Patrol certification in supervisory leadership, general instructor and executive protection.

Work: Retired sergeant, N.C. Highway Patrol, supervised 12 troopers in three-county district; instructor in Basic Highway Patrol School; member of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team; past officer of Mount Airy Police Department.

Involvement: Current board president of the Pine Ridge Volunteer Fire Department; current vice chair of the State Employees Credit Union, Mount Airy branch; past master of Round Peak Masonic Lodge; past president of SCC Law Enforcement Officer Club; recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine; past lieutenant and board member for the Mount Airy Rescue Squad; deacon at Haymore Baptist Church.

1. At the forum last month, candidates mentioned the need for more deputies. Since the county commissioners control the budget, what can you do as sheriff?

“We bring our budget before them,” he stated. “I know they are only going to give so much.”

“I don’t have a problem going to the state or the federal government for grants that will help us. The president has said the opioid epidemic is on a national level, so there likely will be grants coming for those who pursue it.

“I’m not afraid to ask. All they can say is no.”

As for the county’s plans to add on to the jail and restructure offices, he said, “We do need more prison space. We shouldn’t be paying Ashe County or somewhere else to house our prisoners. I do think the magistrate should be in the same facility with the jail.”

2. Candidates have mentioned wanting to restructure the command staff. What exactly is your plan for the department?

“To put people in key positions that I trust. People who can make decisions without having to consult me for every decision. They have to be able to make the tough call in the field. That is why you want to be able to trust them.

“I will lead by example by having myself and the command staff work hand in hand with the deputies in order to keep a great morale in the department.”

Tate believes that every deputy on the roster and each new hire should be fully vetted by the new sheriff.

“I would look into their backgrounds,” he said. “I believe in the polygraph test. I had one before I started with the Mount Airy Police Department, and I had another one when I joined the Highway Patrol.”

Once the officers are hired, “I will give the deputies the training they need to make our department professional, thus building up their dossier whereby they will be able to receive the appropriate step raises.”

Tate said he believes in talking to the community. If an idea sounds workable, why not give it a closer look?

It will take time to get enough deputies to implement a community policing program the way he wants to, Tate said. He would assign a deputy to a high-crime area. Have them get out of the car and shake hands, he said, and get to know the residents.

This program would be separate. It would have its own division and be responsible for all community interaction, which would consist of monthly meetings in order to get ideas and information from residents.

3. Why should people vote for you in this primary?

“Integrity, leadership, transparency, professionalism.

“I have been trained by the best,” he said, giving a lengthy list of training sessions he has attended.

He was a member of a mitigation-assessment team (MAT) that checks for safety hazards after a disaster as part of FEMA. He has been a member of Critical Incident Stress Management team and was dispatched to the scene of the Virginia Tech (2007) and Carthage nursing home (2009) shootings where a combined 41 people died.

“I have been from Murphy to Manteo on the job.”

He was a community officer in the Highway Patrol, going into schools to speak to teachers and students. He has gone through extensive leadership training. He is the only candidate with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. And, he added, the only Eagle Scout.

One area that he doesn’t know much about is the jail, but he is willing to put in the time to learn all the ins and outs. And, he added, the office has good people employed already with experience in this area.

4. While Connie Watson and Graham Atkinson gave the county 22 years of a Democratic sheriff, Jimmy Combs has only been sheriff for one year. Why shouldn’t he get longer to realize his idea for the office?

“He’s been a part of that office for 33 years. He was the second in charge under both Connie and Graham. People can get comfortable in their element, and it’s time to bring in a new vision. Someone who thinks outside the box, and that’s me.”

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Name: Ervin Odum

Age: 67

Home: Rockford

Education: Copeland School

Work: Has worked in carpentry/construction his whole career; in 1975, started Ervin Odum Construction

Involvement: He has nearly 20 years of experience helping in youth baseball and softball leagues. He ran for sheriff in 2014 and got 30 percent of the vote.

1. At the GOP forum last month, candidates mentioned the need for more deputies. Since the county commissioners control the budget, what can you do as sheriff?

“Take some of these old patrol cars, spread them out through the community. Make it look like there are more people there.”

“There are people that work part-time at jail. Let them drive one home. … Maybe people would think twice about committing crimes if they see cars around.”

With so few deputies working on a shift, any additional presence in the community would help — especially in places far out from Dobson like Shoals or Westfield or Lowgap. He says the county already owns these surplus vehicles so instead of selling them, put them back into use.

2. Candidates have mentioned wanting to restructure the command staff. What exactly is your plan for the department?

“I’ve been working men since I was 15. I’ve got two women with 41 years of law enforcement background. They said they would be honored to come work for me.” He said he would then keep an eye on the workers in the field.

“Computers are genius, but there are times when you have to do footwork to get things done.

“I might have to find spots where people could be let go and new folks added on.”

Then he added, “Some of the inmates are in for things like child support. Why can’t we put them to work?” They could have jobs to pay on child support and maybe some of that money could go toward paying for their own food supplies.

Instead of the county paying civic groups to pick up garbage along the roads, why not have inmates do it? With the addition planned for the jail, make sure there is a kitchen area so that inmates can prepare the food for all the other prisoners.

3. Why should people vote for you in this primary?

The county needs a plan to deal with first offenders, he said. A person going to jail could be raped, beaten up or killed.

There are a lot of abandoned buildings around the county, he said. One or two of these could be used for rehabilitation work. The county has plumbers, carpenters and electricians that could use help, so why not train them and put them to work, he asked.

If people go through the training and maintain jobs for a certain period, he said, then let the crimes be expunged from their records so they can start a fresh life.

4. You have mentioned two females with law enforcement experience. Who are these advisors?

One of them has many years of experience in Forsyth County, he said, but he doesn’t want to name her and get her involved in a political race. He said he also knows some former military men who would join him if he is elected.

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Name: Jamie Goad

Age: 44

Home: Mount Airy

Education: North Surry, A.A.S. in Criminal Justice, SCC; Basic Law Enforcement Training; Advanced Law Enforcement certification; multiple supervisory schools; community policing; rapid deployment; Critical Incident Stress Management training; Incident Command System training; National Incident Management System; Crisis Intervention Team; School Resource Officer training; field training officer school.

Work: Worked almost 21 years in the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and is still a sworn, active deputy. This time included work as a courtroom bailiff, in the detention center, civil officer, SRO for three years at East Surry, 16 years as patrol officer (one year as a senior patrol deputy and nine as a patrol sergeant).

Involvement: Board of directors for a nonprofit animal rescue group; board of directors of a local rescue squad.

1. At the forum last month, candidates mentioned the need for more deputies. Since the county commissioners control the budget, what can you do as sheriff?

“To get more deputies we will restructure the sheriff’s office. We will apply for state and federal grants to hopefully hire some more officers.”

As county Commissioner Larry Phillips has brought up the idea of adding SROs to grade schools, Goad said, “Hopefully we get some more school resource officers. I would like to see the elementary schools get them eventually.”

He said that it seems like there is more money out there for schools that the county might not be taking advantage of.

2. Candidates have mentioned wanting to restructure the command staff. What exactly is your plan for the department?

“I think there’s people who have been there over 30 years who should take their retirement and go on, open up some positions. There is one that was created — yes created — just three years ago that could be eliminated. Free up some high salaries and maybe hire more Indians and have fewer chiefs.

“As someone who has worked in the office, I have seen many little ways to improve the efficiency for better use of the taxpayers’ money.”

3. Why should people vote for you in this primary?

“I am the youngest of all the candidates running. To me that means that I’ll be the most energetic to get things done. I’m not an ‘8-5 Monday to Friday, sit behind a desk’ kind of guy. I’ll be aggressive, energetic to get the job done.

“I will be able to connect to the young people. I understand today’s technology and social media. … School safety will be a major concern of mine.

“I will take an aggressive approach on the drug issue that we have. … I’d like to start a senior citizen awareness program, where seniors who wish to attend can learn about fraud, scams, prescription pill safety. What to say and what not to say in telephone conversations.”

Goad supports the department’s church safety program. “I would like that in full force, and add to it if we can, to make them as safe as possible. No one likes to think about that, but it is something that needs to be addressed. They are a lot like schools — they aren’t the safe place they once were.

“I’ve worked in most all divisions of the sheriff’s department and I have the knowledge and experience to go in as a working sheriff, not as a learning sheriff.”

4. At the forum you said there have been a lot of questions about why you left the sheriff’s office. What is your side of the story?

Goad claimed that former Sheriff Graham Atkinson went to the county commissioners to get a raise for himself and four high-ranking officers. These raises ranged from $12,000 to $18,000 a year.

”Those were approved in a closed-door commissioners meeting and apparently were not supposed to be known. … A friend of mine was told about it by a commissioner. My friend in turn told me about it.”

Goad said he did a little digging and learned that these raises did happen.

He said that when he questioned the sheriff about the raises, somehow word got around to the whole department.

“Everyone was upset. Not everyone got raises, just those four. We could have put extra officers on the road with that kind of money. Graham had to hold meetings with different departments to justify the raises.”

He said he had a feeling that his days were numbered. He said his letter of resignation stated that he had future plans for the department as he already knew he was going to run.

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Name: Steve Hiatt

Age: 54

Home: Mount Airy

Education: Mount Airy High School, A.A.S., Criminal Justice, Surry Community College

Work: 28 years at the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, retired as Lieutenant, Civil Division, remains sworn in as a reserve deputy; currently employed by Northern Hospital of Surry County, security officer.

Involvement: Member of the Fraternal Order of Police since 1988; past president and currently serving as secretary/treasurer of the local lodge; member of the N.C. Law Enforcement Officer’s Association since 1991; past member of the Northwest Piedmont Council of Youth; lifelong member of Mount Bethel Moravian Church, currently serving as vice chairman of the church board, treasurer of the Sunday school, member of the voice choir and member of the men’s brotherhood.

1. At the forum last month, candidates mentioned the need for more deputies. Since the county commissioners control the budget, what can you do as sheriff?

“The need for more deputies is definitely a top priority that needs to be addressed with urgency. The Surry County Sheriff’s Office needs the ability to place more patrol deputies on each shift to assist with an ever-increasing call volume.

“Since approximately 2006, patrol squads of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office have had six deputies working each shift. If a patrol squad is short staffed, or deputies are absent for training, court, or to use sick/vacation time, then the number of deputies working each shift is even less. Surry County is made up of approximately 532 square miles, and that’s a lot of ground for just six deputies to cover.

“When I become sheriff, I will examine each position within the sheriff’s office to determine precisely which job duties can be consolidated. Once a couple of positions are combined in other divisions or within my command staff, then the money used to fund those positions can be reallocated to add additional personnel to the patrol division. I will also seek to obtain additional funding from the Surry County commissioners as well as state and federal grant funding.”

2. Candidates have mentioned wanting to restructure the command staff. What exactly is your plan for the department?

“As sheriff, I will look at ways to restructure the Surry County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to help it run more efficiently and be more effective at serving the citizens of Surry County.”

As with the previous question, Hiatt stated that positions could be cut so the money could go elsewhere, such as the patrol and narcotics divisions.

“I would also like to place additional personnel in the detective division and detention center if funding can be obtained. I will choose my command staff carefully for they are the very individuals who will set the tone for the rest of the sheriff’s office. They must be individuals of integrity who are passionate about serving others and have ample law enforcement or military experience.”

3. Why should people vote for you in this primary?

“Because I am the most qualified candidate running for sheriff. I have over 33 years of law enforcement experience and the knowledge and passion necessary to be successful. I have earned the reputation of being an individual who is honest, fair, impartial, and, most of all, trustworthy.

“I have worked in various positions at the sheriff’s office including: patrol deputy, patrol sergeant, civil sergeant, civil lieutenant, detective, and detective lieutenant. My experiences have given me better insight on how to run the sheriff’s office as a whole. I am the only candidate with the ability to say that I have worked in all three of the divisions above and will have the experience necessary to be able to step in, assist, and work alongside of my employees.

“I feel that the Surry County Sheriff’s Office needs a person who knows the daily operations of the sheriff’s office and can be depended upon night and day. My family has a long lineage of serving this great county.”

4. You said you retired as a lieutenant six years ago. Why didn’t you run against Graham Atkinson in the last election four years ago? What has changed since that time?

“When I lost an extremely close election to Graham Atkinson in 2006, I had a decision to make. I could either work ’til retirement for a sheriff’s office located in another county, or I could continue to serve the citizens of Surry County. When Sheriff Atkinson offered me a job that would allow me to continue to serve the citizens of Surry County, I accepted his offer and made a promise to him that I would never run against him as long as he was sheriff. This is the very respect that I would have wanted from anyone working for me had I been the one to have won the election.

“I chose to continue my career, not as a Republican or a Democrat but as a man sworn to protect and serve the citizens of Surry County. As a man of my word, I kept the promise I made to Sheriff Atkinson. While some may disagree with the decision that I made, I did what I believe any respectable individual should have done. I upheld my promise as well as my commitment to serve the citizens of Surry County.

“Right before Sheriff Atkinson announced that he was retiring, I was approached by my family and closest friends and encouraged to seek the position of sheriff. In fact, just a couple of hours before I received confirmation that Sheriff Atkinson was indeed retiring, I received a phone call from a friend and former deputy asking that I run for sheriff again.”

The four men competing in the Republican primary for Surry County sheriff are seen at a forum last month at Temple Baptist Church. From left are Jamie Goad, Steve Hiatt, Ervin Odum and Vann Tate.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_IMGP0680_filtered-001.jpgThe four men competing in the Republican primary for Surry County sheriff are seen at a forum last month at Temple Baptist Church. From left are Jamie Goad, Steve Hiatt, Ervin Odum and Vann Tate. Jeff Linville | The News

Tate
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Vann-Tate_filtered.jpgTate Jeff Linville | The News

Odum
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_IMGP0787.jpgOdum Jeff Linville | The News

Goad
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Jamie-Goad.jpgGoad Jeff Linville | The News

Hiatt
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Steve-Hiatt.jpgHiatt Jeff Linville | The News

By Jeff Linville

[email protected]

Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

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