Van Duncan

Van Duncan

Age: 42
Residence: Erwin Hills
Occupation: instructor/coordinator at N.C. Justice Academy
Education: B.S. criminal justice, WCU; Administrative Officers Management Program, N.C. State
Party: Democrat
Political experience: first run for public office

1. What are the pros and cons of maintaining the department’s sizeable force of auxiliary deputies?

Qualified reserve officers can be a tremendous asset to any department, but there is a great expense in training and maintaining a reserve force the size of Buncombe County’s. The reserves giving professional service for the department are a valuable asset and those that do not are a liability.

2. Should the department create a citizen advisory board to address allegations of misconduct? Why?

The department should have a disciplinary review board with a civilian component. Trust is a vital part of building a relationship with employees and with the community. We will also have a disciplinary review board with a civilian component to review terminations.

3. What should the department do to improve enforcement of domestic-violence laws?

Domestic violence is a very serious problem. We must teach our officers to approach domestic violence using a problem-solving philosophy. Our department should have current training in domestic-violence investigation and a pro-arrest policy when there is evidence of abuse.

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

• Increase the number of patrol officers by reorganizing patrol and criminal investigations to better answer calls for service.

• Reorganize drug enforcement to fight a multifaceted war on drugs.

• Emphasis on the School Resource Officer Program and how it could better influence our youth.

5. What most distinguishes you from your opponent?

My vision for how the sheriff’s office can better serve the people of Buncombe County and a clear plan that can make it happen. I also feel the sheriff should set an example for the employees every day about what is expected in the way of service, integrity, accountability and professionalism.

6. Is the department’s ratio of administrators to patrol deputies appropriate? Why?

The administration of the Sheriff’s Department has fluctuated from six to as many as 10 captains over the past year. In a professional agency the administrative staff should never change that quickly. The priority should be on line-level officers providing the service to the community.

7. Would you shift the department’s budget priorities? How?

Existing resources must be directed at providing the maximum amount of service in the most efficient manner possible. This would require restructuring the manpower allocation of each division and flattening the management structure to put more people in positions to provide service to the community.

8. What can be done to speed up the department’s response time?

Response time is directly tied to the amount of personnel you have to respond. Through reorganization, we will increase the number of officers operating in a patrol capacity and decrease the response time. The current average response time for all calls at the Sheriff’s Department is 34 minutes.

9. Should the department’s operations be more transparent? If so, what steps would you take to achieve this?

Transparency is vital to building partnerships with the community. We must pursue relationships with the different communities throughout the county. We will provide an end-of-year report which will be our report card to the citizens. We must openly discuss our successes and failures.

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About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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