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Sunday, May 19, 2024

2022 Primary Election: Incumbent Alan Cutler hopes to maintain seat as Pender County Sheriff

Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler is running for re-election in the 2022 primary election. (Courtesy photo)

PENDER COUNTY ⁠— Alan Cutler, Republican, is running as the incumbent for Pender County Sheriff. Cutler is the current Pender County Sheriff and has 31 years of law enforcement experience.

Port City Daily has sent a questionnaire to every candidate running in local elections in the tri-county region. The paywall is dropped on profiles to help voters make informed decisions ahead of casting their ballots.

As a reminder, the early voting period runs from Apr. 28 to May 14. The voter registration deadline is Apr. 22. Voters may partake in same-day registration throughout the two-week early voting period (check if your registration is active at your current address).

Primary Election Day is May 17. Voters will choose which candidates from their registered party they want to move forward in the formal election. Those who are registered as unaffiliated can choose which party’s primary they want to vote in.

Cutler’s stances on issues are discussed below. All answers are included in full and the candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily. Responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

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PCD: What sets you apart as a candidate?

Alan Cutler (AC): The majority of my 31 years in law enforcement have been spent right here serving the people of Pender County. I feel that I know the county and the people in it. I am your sheriff now and hope to continue to be.  

I have established programs in my office, which reach the citizens in different ways and I feel the need to continue growing these in order to reach more citizens. I look forward to continuing in office to serve Pender County.

PCD: School safety has become a central issue for police and sheriff’s departments across the U.S. If elected, how would you address safety concerns in Pender County schools?

AC: I plan on working toward the goal of having an SRO in every school in Pender County with the help of the county commissioners. There are two SROs in each high school daily, and all middle and elementary schools have coverage. 

Currently, my SRO staff is trained in SWAT and active shooter. SRO staff train with faculty and students about the dangers of and how to react to an active aggressor incident. Training sessions are conducted at every school using the A.L.I.C.E. program to make our schools as safe as possible. 

PCD: How should we be addressing the opioid crisis? What does and does not work from your point of view?

AC: The action should be and has been enforcement of drugs. Our narcotics division personnel were increased and drug charges increased 300% in the first year. 

I have focused our personnel on drug dealers and removed individuals from the streets and neighborhoods of our county. Much of this has been accomplished with the assistance of federal agencies. Working with federal agencies allows us to send drug dealers to federal prison instead of housing them long term in our county facility. My deputies are issued Narcan and have saved many lives with its use when responding to overdose calls.

PCD: How should the Pender County Sheriff’s Office plan for population growth?

MS: My office needs to grow to keep up with the pace of growth in our county. I received 16 positions the first three years and have requested several more for this coming budget year. These positions are approved by the county commissioners, and I plan on maintaining a good working relationship with them to provide the service that our citizens deserve.

PCD: Law enforcement agencies are having trouble recruiting and retaining in the current hiring climate. How would you ensure the county is obtaining the best deputies for the area?

AC: In 2021 the county commissioners approved a salary increase for my staff in order to be more competitive with other law enforcement agencies. Since this salary increase, neighboring agencies have since increased their salaries and incentives, which makes it tough to recruit and retain staff. 

I will continue to work with county commissioners to maintain salary increases and be competitive with our surrounding agencies. New training opportunities that our budget and grants will allow are being offered and explored.

PCD: What can and should be done to improve relations between law enforcement and historically marginalized populations?

AC: We have taken our community programs to the citizens of Pender County and participate in the Community Police Race Relations meetings held. Our community meetings have gone a long way in improving our relationship with all communities of our county. 

We have been able to maintain transparency and build trust with the citizens. I was able to gain valuable information from those meetings and programs and my plan is to continue to grow these relationships. The Citizens Academy has been a great way to share with the citizens more about the sheriff’s office and how it is operated.

PCD: Is there an additional issue or issues you think need(s) to be addressed during your term, should you win?

AC: The current jail facility is a constant drain on Pender County funds. There are maintenance costs due to the age of the building and out-of-county housing costs for our inmates. Discussion and planning have been in process for many years now and this is a definite need for our county. I plan on continuing to work with the county manager and commissioners to plan and construct a facility that would meet the needs of our county.

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