Van Duncan

Van Duncan

Van Duncan

Age: 41
Residence: Erwin District
Occupation: Instructor/coordinator, Management Supervision Section, N.C. Justice Academy
Education: B.S. criminal justice, WCU; Administrative Officers Management Program, N.C. State
Party: Democrat
Political experience: First run for political office

1. Should the Sheriff’s Department be more transparent? If so, what steps would you take to achieve this?

Yes. Transparency is essential in obtaining and keeping the public trust. My platform of service, accountability, professionalism and integrity will achieve transparency by standardizing how we do business. Transparency ensures integrity and accountability. I will also establish a citizens’ advisory committee as well as an end-of-year report.

2. What’s the current sheriff’s biggest accomplishment? His biggest failure?

Accomplishment: Getting the School Resource Officer program up and running in the Buncombe County Schools.

Failure: The current sheriff has failed to provide leadership and direction. He should constantly be involved in collaborative efforts with other agencies, organizations and community leaders to battle the drug problem in our county. The sheriff of Buncombe County should be a leader in WNC’s law-enforcement community.

3. Does the department enforce video-poker laws sufficiently? If not, what steps would you take to strengthen enforcement?

No. The sheriff has done little to deal with illegal video poker in this county. There have been no illegal video-poker charges made by the department that I am aware of. It is the sheriff’s responsibility to make sure licensed video-poker machines operate by the statutes.

4. What’s your position on the unannounced urban-warfare exercise the department hosted in downtown Asheville in 2004? Are you aware of plans for more such maneuvers?

In today’s challenging homeland-security environment, it is important for local law enforcement to partner with agencies at the local, state and federal levels. We also need to … make sure our training does not negatively impact the citizens of Buncombe County. I am aware of no future maneuvers.

5. What does the Sheriff’s Department spend too much money on? Too little?

Too much money is spent on salaries for people in administrative roles that are not contributing to the mission of service. We must use our budget effectively to provide that service. The priority must be more deputies on the road and continual training for them.

6. Is the department’s handling of domestic-violence cases adequate? If not, how would you change it?

Domestic violence is a serious problem. We need to train our officers to approach domestic violence with a problem-solving approach. A pro-arrest policy, adequate training, and early intervention [by] public-assistance resources are vital in breaking the cycle of violence.

7. The department has more auxiliary deputies than any other municipality in the state. What are the pros and cons of this situation?

Auxiliary officers are sworn to provide a ready reserve of qualified personnel. … [But] you cannot keep the current number of auxiliary officers adequately trained or utilized. I feel [the sheriff] does this for political gain, with no concern for the potential liability he places on the department.

8. What are your top three crime-fighting priorities?

• Stopping or curtailing the flow of illegal drugs in and through our county.

• Communicating and partnering with the various communities in Buncombe County to identify and effectively address their problems.

• Taking a proactive role with our youth through the School Resource Officer program.

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