Larry Brown has served as an Auxilliary Deputy with the Pender County Sheriff’s Office since 1995, and has also worked with the office’s child support division.
Pender County Sheriff – Primary Election 2018
Brown is one of seven candidates for Pender County Sheriff are competing in the 2018 Republican Primary Election; the winner, chosen May 8, will face off against Democrat Lawrence Fennell.
Current Sheriff Carson Smith has served four terms, but will not run for re-election; he will instead run to replace Representative Chris Millis, who stepped down from his position in September.
The Pender County Sheriff oversees an office in charge of nearly 1,000 square miles with manpower that has, historically, been limited in part due to Pender’s relatively low population density. Five times the size of New Hanover County, Pender has about one-fifth the population.
The Sheriff is elected to a four-year term, and is paid a $101,137 salary, plus health benefits. Criminal cases in Pender County are tried in the 5th District Court by the office of District Attorney Ben David.
Editor’s note: At the time of publication, five of the candidates had responded to questions. Responses from remaining candidates will be published if and when they are received.
School safety is on everyone’s mind. How would you address those concerns, both in schools and in the community?
All the elementary schools in Pender County must have a dedicated school resource officer assigned to each school. Some schools may even require two.
Having one deputy on each side of the county roving from elementary school to elementary school leaves the school open, heaven forbid a tragic incident. We must cover and protect all of our schools, children, faculty and staff. More training for our SROs (school resource officers) and more involvement from our SROs with the students. This will be a top priority if I am elected.
The Pender County Sheriff’s Office has a lot of ground to cover – do you feel the office has sufficient manpower to do so? What is your plan to utilize the office’s resources to the fullest without neglecting either the eastern or western part of the county?
There is not sufficient manpower for deputies to cover the eastern or western side of the county.
First of all, the Sheriff’s Office loses personnel to surrounding counties on a continuous basis. On average the starting pay scale for a patrol officer hired is $6,000 less than in the surrounding counties. The Sheriff’s Office has been a training ground for other counties for years. On average it cost the taxpayers a little over $20k to train a deputy just to lose them in a few short months. We have been losing and will continue to lose our experienced deputies until the salary is equitable to the surrounding counties.
What experience do you have handling a government budget?
As a fixed operations manager over the last 30 years, I have been responsible for financial budgets monthly quarterly and yearly.
I have created budgets and monitored the expenditures on a daily basis to ensure all monies are used and spent in the proper manner. As your Sheriff, it will be my responsibility to be a good steward of your taxpayers money. Also, my second in command will be Detective Sergeant John Leatherwood, who served in the Coast Guard for 26 years. His expertise was finance and administration, including formulating and managing multi-million dollar budgets. John has been employed by the Pender County Sheriff’s Office 15 years and will assist me handling the government annual budget.
What is your vision for how the Pender County Sheriff’s Office will handle the opioid crisis?
My vision in handling the opioid crisis is to aggressively go after the dealers.
This will require additional manpower and joining the surrounding counties’ “joint task force.” It is clear we have an opioid epidemic in Pender County and it is time for the Pender County Sheriff’s Office to engage in the war on drugs.
Again, this is a manpower issue. Additional personnel will be needed. I want to get involved with the rehabilitation of the users while incarcerated. I feel we need a form of rehabilitation, not just a three-month to six-month program; it should be a minimum of 12 to 18 months as part of their sentence. Let’s get these people some help so they can beat this addiction.
When, if ever, was the last time you had a hands-on role in a criminal case (i.e. from arrest, to the magistrate, to court, and giving testimony)?
As an auxiliary deputy, we did not get too many arrests. Most of the time it went to the full-time deputies.
I have made several arrests while working the child support division. But, I remember a case a few years ago where I was called to a disturbance where an intoxicated subject was trying to get his keys and leave the get-together he was attending. I arrived on scene and spoke to this subject. I advised him of his rights and also advised him if he left and drove while impaired he would be arrested.
I cleared the scene but went just a short distance down the road and pulled over to write my report on this call. After approximately seven to 10 minutes the subject passed by me. I immediately pulled out behind him and attempted a traffic stop. The subject initially refused to stop, but eventually did so after a 2 to 3 mile chase. The subject was arrested for driving while impaired along with other charges. The subject pled out and the case did not go to trial.
Do you feel that arrests made by the Pender County Sheriff’s Office are adequately pursued in court by prosecutors in the District Attorney’s office?
During my employment with Pender County Sheriff’s Office as an auxiliary deputy, I mostly supplemented the patrol division on weekends on a routine basis. I did work the child support division for a while but when arrested on a child support warrant you must pay face value of the warrant or service the time.
This is an important question so I deferred the question to who will be my second command John Leatherwood.
Since employed, John’s assignments have been school resource officer for Heide Trask High School, domestic violence investigator, sexual assault investigator and presently general investigator. He has attended numerous district court trials and superior court trials. His answer to this question: “Absolutely. The court prosecutors in the district attorney’s office without question adequately pursue adjudication for all arrests made by our deputies during court proceedings.”
The Sheriff is a law enforcement agent, but also an administrator. Have you ever managed an organization of 50 or more individuals – if so, when? What was your management strategy?
I have 30 years in management mainly in the automotive industry. I have worked for franchised dealerships where I supervised multiple departments and all their employees.
Yes, I have supervised 50 plus employees during this time, inclusive of hiring and firing, employee evaluations and various duties of the human resources department.
The way I manage staff is always have an open-door policy. Make sure all your employees are aware of your expectations. Monitor your employees and always be willing to assist them if they need you. Always inspect what you expect but always treat them with respect and dignity. Most importantly “lead by example.”
The Sheriff must also delegate effectively, especially to a second in command. Who do you plan to put in that role and what are his/her credentials?
If elected I will be promoting from within. My second in command will be Detective Sergeant John Leatherwood.
John retired from the Coast Guard after 26 years of service. His expertise during his tour was finance and administration with his duties in formulating and managing multi-million dollar budgets. His last assignment prior to retirement was assigned to Support Center Alameda as the comptroller with a division of over 150 personnel under his division.
John was awarded three Coast Guard Commendation medals and two achievement medals during his career. One commendation medal was awarded to John as the primary boarding officer assigned to the cutter Tampa during drug interdiction, boarding one vessel seizing 15 tons of marijuana, boarding another vessel seizing 300 pounds of marijuana, along with 57 pounds of hashish paste and then boarding another vessel and seizing one hundred and forty bales of marijuana.
Since he retired from the Coast Guard, John has 24 years of law enforcement experience working for several agencies, including the Pender County Sheriff’s Office for the past 15 years. As stated in my answer to a previous question, John was the school resource officer for Heide Trask High School four years. After that he was assigned as the domestic violence investigator four years. Then John was assigned as the sexual assault investigator.
Presently Detective Sergeant Leatherwood is assigned to the eastern side of Pender County as the general investigator. John will be my second in command.
Has your personal or professional conduct ever been seriously called in question in the course of any employment?