Walt Robertson

Walt Robertson

Walt Robertson

Age: 55
Residence: South Buncombe
Occupation: Commander of Asheville Housing Authority’s Crime and Safety Team; retired from Asheville Police Department after 31.5 years
Education: B.A. criminal justice, Shaw University; FBI National Academy; N.C. Justice Academy; criminal-justice education, University of Virginia
Party: Democrat
Political experience: None

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

I believe the department should be accessible to the public. I plan to implement a citizens’ advisory board to address allegations of officer misconduct. I will work to establish an independent body of citizens and officers to assure timely and fair review of citizens’ complaints while protecting my officers’ rights.

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

Accomplishment: Implementing the Victims Assistance Program, which helps all victims (including victims of domestic violence).

Failure: Adequate training for personnel to do the job they are assigned to do.

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

I am not employed at the department and do not have the answer to this, but I plan to assign one person to check every site several times a month. This person will report to me once a month unless there is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

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 this was a multiagency exercise aimed at getting prepared for any problem that may arise and provided the opportunity for several agencies to work together. I am not aware of any future plans to repeat the exercise.

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

Too much: High-ranking personnel.

Too little: Training and equipment.

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

It is adequate but could be so much better if present resources were utilized. There is a need for more personnel to follow up and assist with victims’ needs, provide resources, and present programs to our young adults to prevent acts of domestic violence.

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

Pros: Certified law-enforcement officers that volunteer their time to help the department.

Cons: Too many officers that are certified who do not volunteer their time yet cost the department for training and equipment.

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

• More patrol presence with an emphasis on community policing.

• Drug prevention and enforcement.

• Crime prevention, community watch.

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