Press release from Sheriff Quentin Miller:
(September 6, 2021) – Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin E. Miller will seek a second term in office in order to continue implementing 21st Century policing principles. Miller, a Democrat, was elected to office in 2018 and serves as the first African-American Sheriff of Buncombe County.
Since taking office, Sheriff Miller has advocated for a series of criminal justice reforms, many of which were signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper last week.
HB 436: Support Law Enforcement Mental Health
HB 536: Law Enforcement Duty to Intervene and
SB 300:Criminal Justice Reform.
These laws significantly update how law enforcement officers are screened for employment, require support for officers through mental health resources, and add transparency to the review of critical incidents among many other reforms.
“I am thankful for our newly elected Sheriffs who took office in 2018 and advocated publicly and privately for this package of significant reforms. These series of new laws are likely the biggest changes we have seen to our profession in my 39 years in law enforcement and it represents a significant step forward,” says Sheriff Miller.
While in office Sheriff Miller has also implemented a major expansion of the drug treatment program at the Buncombe County Detention Facility with the support of county commissioners and the NC DHHS. The Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program in Buncombe County was one of just two pilot programs funded by NC DHHS in the entire state.
“I’m proud to have a dedicated and hard-working team working within our Detention Facility to help make a difference with the opioid crisis. We’ve tried to arrest our way out of the drug epidemic for decades and it hasn’t worked. There must be consequences for people’s actions, but part of our solution has to be providing people access to medication and treatment. We must offer people a chance to get themselves to a better place and programs like MAT are proven to reduce recidivism,” says Sheriff Miller.
Providing a MAT program in a detention setting has proven successful in other communities according to a 2018 report on Medically Assisted Treatment produced by the National Sheriff’s Association. The report lays out the clear benefits of the program: “Evidence strongly supports that the use of MAT increases the likelihood of successful treatment for individuals with Opioid and reduces morbidity and mortality.
Research has begun to show that adding MAT to the treatment of those involved in the criminal justice system confers the same benefits and also reduces recidivism.”
As one of his first major announcements after taking office, Sheriff Miller released a new policy of not honoring ICE Detainers without a valid warrant. He announced this policy at a press conference in February of 2019 by stating in part:
“It is vital that members of our immigrant community can call the Sheriff’s Office without fear when they are in need of assistance from law enforcement. Our deputies are expected to treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of the color of their skin or the language that they speak.”
Sheriff Miller has also added security measures at the Buncombe County Courthouse; increased diversity among his command staff in terms of both race and gender; instituted a career ladder system that rewards training certifications and advanced education with pay increases; and worked with the judicial system to safely reduce the jail population during COVID.
“I’m honored to endorse Sheriff Miller for re-election. In his first term, I have seen Sheriff Miller’s leadership in action – from implementing a MAT program at the detention center to being a statewide voice for criminal justice reform.
He speaks often of the ‘community of we’ that must come together to solve problems and create a community that is safe and just for everyone. We need that approach now more than ever. I look forward to knocking on doors and casting my vote to re-elect Sheriff Miller,” says Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara.
Sheriff Miller was born and raised in Asheville. He graduated from Asheville High School in 1981 and joined the U.S. Army where he served as a Military Policeman for 11 years. While stationed at Fort Bragg in 1985, Quentin met Army Specialist Karen Sconiers who he has been married to for 35 years. They now enjoy spending time with their 11 grandchildren. Quentin and Karen also have fostered more than 100 children in their home since 2005.
“I have learned a tremendous amount during the nearly three years I have been in office as Sheriff. I continue to learn every day at this job and I want to build upon what we have accomplished so far. If I am honest, it has been a difficult three years. The death of Mr. Floyd brought forth many ugly truths about some law enforcement officers who do not serve the communities they police. COVID caught everyone off guard and has upended almost everything that we do. Despite those challenges, I believe we have made progress in reforming our criminal justice system and I am especially proud of the efforts Buncombe County is making to tackle the opioid epidemic. I believe the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is the premier law enforcement agency in Western North Carolina and I hope our community will allow me a 2nd term to continue this work,” says Sheriff Miller.