The Buncombe County Board of Elections won’t officially certify the results until Friday, May 27, and the N.C. Board of Elections will issue its own certification Thursday, June 9. But even with those steps still to come, there’s plenty to learn from the unofficial results.
Candidates for the Buncombe County Sheriff Democratic 2022 primary share their positions with Xpress.
In an effort to boost recruitment, Buncombe County Sheriff Miller is asking the Board of Commissioners to approve a salary increase of up to $7 per hour — roughly 37% — for detention officers. Since last January, 83 officers have resigned from the jail, while only 64 have been hired.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners awarded over $11 million in federal COVID-19 recovery funding Nov. 16. Those grants did not include any money toward the city of Asheville’s controversial planned purchase of a Ramada Inn for a low-barrier homeless shelter.
A year after the Buncombe County Detention Facility expanded its medication-assisted treatment program, Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller says it’s time to put the successful service “in four-wheel drive.”
Addressing the Council of Independent Business Owners, Republican Sen. Chuck Edwards argued that Asheville was “bowing to the radicals that are asking for police departments to be defunded.” To ensure law and order, Edwards continued, he is developing legislation that would strip state funds from cities that cut law enforcement.
Democrats Amanda Edwards and Al Whitesides joined the board’s three Republicans in a 5-2 vote approving a proposal to hire three new detectives, which would match a $375,000 federal grant with $734,000 in county funds through fiscal year 2025.
Buncombe County has opened two drive-through testing sites, which will be open Wednesday, March 18, from 2-6 p.m. The first site is Biltmore Church at 35 Clayton Road in Arden, and the second is UNC Asheville at One University Heights.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray’s statement against two N.C. sheriffs, including Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller comes as the U.S. Department of Justice sues jurisdictions in other states over related policies.
Most of those who spoke were in support of declaring Buncombe a “Second Amendment sanctuary” where officials would pledge not to enact or enforce laws that threaten the right to bear arms. The commissioners did not weigh in on the discussion following public comment.
Under language proposed by the N.C. Federation of Republican Men, Buncombe County would commit to using “all legal means necessary” to protect its citizens’ access to firearms. Additionally, county officials would agree to refrain from enforcing any “acts, laws, orders, mandates, rules or regulations that infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
“As law enforcement, our mission is to protect the public and to seek to provide justice to victims of crime. Sheriff Miller’s current policy serves neither [purpose],” said Andrew Murray, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, after Miller refused to honor an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer request. “It also breeds mistrust among law enforcement agencies and puts in danger the very communities it purports to protect.”
Board chair Brownie Newman, Vice Chair Jasmine Beach-Ferarra and member Amanda Edwards have placed a resolution endorsing the Sheriff’s Office’s use of MAT on the commission’s agenda for Tuesday, Aug. 20. The treatment is currently offered to the jail’s pregnant female inmates, but Buncombe officials hope to expand its availability to all incarcerated individuals.
At the Black Mountain Public Library on July 23, Sheriff Quentin Miller spoke to roughly 35 people in the first of five planned listening sessions meant to build relationships with community members around public safety. Topics included compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, school resource officers and transparency in the Sheriff’s Office.
Republican members of the board argued that their Democratic colleagues were out of place in issuing official letters against pending state HB 370, which would require Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller and other sheriffs throughout North Carolina to comply with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests on penalty of removal from office.
The four Democratic board members — Chair Brownie Newman, Vice Chair Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Commissioners Amanda Edwards and Al Whitesides — have all signed letters asking state officials to withhold their support from the proposal. In February, Democratic Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller announced that his office would no longer honor ICE detainers.
James Baumstark, deputy chief of the Asheville Police Department, declared that all of the backlogged kits in his department’s possession had been reviewed — nearly 600 in all — with 414 already sent in for testing. Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller also said that his office was evaluating and prioritizing a backlog of 201 untested kits.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners got its first look at the county’s fiscal year 2020 budget at a noon meeting originally announced to review the agenda for the board’s 5 p.m. regular meeting on April 16.
In an effort to address what he sees as needs in the department, which includes increasing the number of patrol officers, Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller asked the board for additional funding to pay for 21 new positions and an increase in the number of vehicles that the county refreshes on an annual basis. The sheriff’s office anticipates that the requests would produce a total recurring cost of approximately $3.2 million per year.
The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office will no longer honor requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold detainees on ICE’s behalf without a valid criminal warrant.