J.B. Howard

J.B. Howard

J.B. Howard

Age: 58
Residence: Merrills Cove
Occupation: Private investigator/retired N.C. Highway Patrol
Education: A.A. police science, Gaston College; B.S. UNC-Charlotte; 31 hours completed in M.L.A. program, UNCA
Party: Democrat
Political experience: Lifelong Democrat

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

The office of the sheriff belongs to the people of Buncombe County. They deserve to know what goes on. I would institute a policy that mandates open and honest communications with the citizens and would myself have a presence in the communities to personally hear concerns.

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

His biggest accomplishment I suppose would have to be the new jail. His biggest failure — that has to be the Mary Judd investigation.

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

No, I don’t think there’s adequate enforcement. I believe that a more effective system of registration and a system of physical checks to ensure compliance with video-gaming laws would go a long ways toward more effective enforcement.

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?

I believe that effective training is critical to any department. But … when that training has an effect on the public, they have a right to know. In this post 9/11 era, the public’s right to know has to be protected. I am not aware of any future plans.

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

I think it’s extravagant for the sheriff to buy a new car each year, and it’s obvious there is little being done to control fuel costs. They spend far too little on domestic-violence response, education and prevention. He’s also backed off on his School Resource Officer program.

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

It is woefully inadequate. The current sheriff’s philosophy is “Just keep those old women from calling ME!” I would have specially trained investigators to follow up on such cases and would actively partner with area agencies such as Helpmate to provide better victims’ services.

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

The pros would include having an available pool of resources to deal with major situations. The cons of the situation are that unless these deputies maintain the same level of training as their paid counterparts, they become a liability rather than an asset.

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

• Improving response to domestic-violence incidents, including effective follow-ups.

• Addressing the sagging number of solved cases through better case management and accountability.

• Restore the School Resource Officer program to one where the officers are truly effective and proactive role models for our school kids.

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