The Cedar Key News has emailed questions to local candidates.
We will post them as we receive the answers.
Noel K. Desmond
Candidate for Levy County Sheriff.
Forum answers by candidate Noel K. Desmond.
1: What are your qualifications for this office??
A: I graduated from the best Law enforcement academy in the nation and have held certification in two states, which includes Florida. I`m well versed in the operations of a law enforcement agency, both within the confines of the department and on the street. Having also been the corporate head of a business, I`m very capable in balancing a budget and in delegating authority.
Unlike my two opponents, I wasn`t born or raised in this county, which I believe is an advantage.
2: How will you save taxpayers money?
A: We have two jails, the old and the new. Both of these facilities were to be operational and housing prisoners from other jurisdictions, thereby bringing income to the county coffers. Our current sheriff has closed down the old jail. It seems the county commission refused to fund ten new jail positions, so instead of using budget funds available, the old jail was closed. Over the last three years (Sept. of 2009, 2010, 2011), twenty eight (28) new patrol vehicles have been purchased (With budget funds), that in fact were not needed. The older vehicles had plenty of miles left and are now sitting, unused. Included in new purchases was a Dodge Ram pickup truck for the current second in command, Major Even Sullivan. The list of inappropriate fund spending goes on and on. An explanation as above was in order to understand what is happening with tax dollars. Now to answer your question, I would first, research the opening of the closed jail to other law enforcement agencies for housing prisoners at a profit to the county and sheriff`s department, this would also go for the new jail if vacancies are available. This could save the Levy County tax payer thousands of annual tax dollars. There are other sheriff agency`s doing exactly that and have become fiscally, self sufficient to a high degree. In the first 90 days of my administration a complete and thorough audit will be performed by an independent outside agency. This will identify past inconsistencies which will help guide me into area`s that need attention and revamping. Excess equipment not readily needed will be sold or traded to other agencies. Streamlining of the departments operations will then be examined to determine, the most efficient method maximizing efficiency.
3: What is the most important thing you wish to accomplish if elected to this office?
A: There is not one factor that is more important then the next. Many factors and inconsistencies are affecting the efficiency of this department. There has been a total lack of accountability from the leadership within the Sheriff`s Department. The currant Sheriff has advocated his position to his second in command. The Levy County Sheriff`s Department is permeated with political nepotism and outside political pressure. Deputies are fearful of losing their jobs and speak not of their concerns. This has led to a decline in morale amongst personnel, which detrimentally affects the level of protection for the Levy County Citizen. The agency needs to be reorganized and morale needs to be brought to the highest level possible. As Sheriff, my door will be open to all departmental personnel. Concerns and suggestion on how to improve the efficiency of the department will be readily accepted with an open mind and examined. In house cliques and any form of outside political interference will not be tolerated. This Sheriffs agency will become highly professional under my administration. By doing so, departmental personnel will gain a personal worth, pride, satisfaction and pleasure in their professional achievements.
There are four zones of patrol in this county. Two deputies to each of three and one deputy to the forth zone, per shift. There is also one sergeant and one lieutenant to each shift. This is for eleven hundred square miles of territory. Response time can be and has been two plus hours. In my thirty two years as a citizen of this county, little has changed. That is unacceptable to anyone. The department is top heavy. More deputies` need to be assigned to road patrol. If this means hiring of new personnel, that would be accomplished through monies received, by housing prisoners from other jurisdictions and proper fiscal management. It may also be necessary to shift personnel from existing duties to other areas.
All of the above will lead to fiscal responsibility, enhanced protection and overall monetary saving to the citizens of Levy County.
The primary goal is the complete and total protection of the Levy County Citizen under any and all circumstances.
Under my administration our sheriff`s department will not only be accountable to the Citizens of Levy County but viewable.
My tenure as Sheriff will be one without special interest, that you can be sure of!