James Aaron Grant
Occupation: Lieutenant, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department domestic-violence unit; formerly worked in sex-offender registration, crime prevention.
Education: A-B Tech (Basic Law Enforcement, Officer Survival I & II); UNC-Wilmington (fellow, Institute of Political Leadership); several other schools for continuing education and certifications
Political experience: Previous Democratic candidate, receiving 46 percent of the vote in that primary.
1) Should the Sheriff’s Department be more transparent? If so, what steps would you take to achieve this?
Yes. More citizen input and participation at community-watch meetings in all neighborhoods.
2) What’s the current sheriff’s biggest accomplishment? His biggest failure?
Accomplishment: Loyalty to office and citizens of Buncombe County, serving consistently almost 12 years.
Failure: Not having enough personnel in vehicles to answer and respond to calls due to budget constraints.
3) Does the department regulate video poker sufficiently? If not, what steps would you take to strengthen regulation?
According to information I have, a monthly report is given to the sheriff from vendors. Strengthen enforcement with more officers overseeing machines and vendors subsidizing costs.
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?
Our department is prepared for any emergency situation locally or at the state or national level. No [not aware of future plans].
5) What does the Sheriff’s Department spend too much money on? Too little?
Too much: Our budget has limited resources, and all departments are at a county manager’s fixed mandate, as generalized by shared revenues in county government, as viewed by commissioners’ approval.
Too little: All areas of the department.
6) Is the department’s handling of domestic-violence cases adequate? If not, how would you change it?
We have continued training as mandated by Sheriff’s standards and training and department requirements. … We need more officers budgeted to assist victims … and [related] agencies … to see that the victims follow through with their complaint as alleged and not assist the defendant in [evasive] actions or misconceptions.
7) The department has more auxiliary deputies than any other municipality in the state. What are the pros and cons of this situation?
In this socioeconomic region, we are prepared for local emergencies. [And] if a national disaster occurs, then we would have officers prepared and equipped on an as-needed basis.
8) What are your top three crime-fighting priorities?