Tuesday, April 16, 2024

2022 Primary Election: Mike Korn is running for Pender County Sheriff

Mike Korn is running for PCSO in the 2022 primary election. (Courtesy photo)

PENDER COUNTY ⁠— Mike Korn, a Republican, is running for Pender County Sheriff against current incumbent Alan Cutler. Korn retired as a Guilford County deputy sheriff after serving in law enforcement for 20 years.

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.

Korn’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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Port City Daily (PCD): What sets you apart as a candidate? 

Mike Korn (MK): I have been in law enforcement for 20 years, both city police department and sheriff’s office, which gives me experience in both urban and rural areas. I am well-rounded in all areas, specifically investigation, patrol, and community relations. I supervised patrol officers and was responsible for training. I graduated from several supervisory and administrative programs such as Southern Police Institute and NC State Administrative Officers Program. I served on the committee for national accreditation. 

More recently, I have been one of the most active volunteers working with Americans for Prosperity and the Trump Victory Team. I have spent much time in local and neighboring counties and traveling the country, meeting candidates and others who help make our community and country safe. I have run charitable fundraising organizations, raising money for cancer organizations, youth organizations and more. 

I strongly support the Constitution of the United States of America and the North Carolina Constitution. I will fiercely protect the rights of the citizens and will conduct in-depth constitutional and NC law training with officers.

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?

MK: As a sheriff candidate, I see many parents are concerned about CRT, Diversity, SEL and pornography in our books available to our students. N.C. General Statute §14-190 states this is a serious crime; it is also a federal crime and felonious. This is very much a serious issue concerning the safety of our children. As Lt. Governor Mark Robinson has stated, pornography has no place in our schools. As sheriff, should I receive concerns or any complaints reported, I will investigate promptly, swiftly, quickly, and take immediate action to protect our children. 

Over the last couple of years, Sheriff Culter, with aid from the county commissioners, has increased SRO officers in the schools but they are not in all the schools, such as the elementary schools. The main problem for sheriff’s office and several Pender County services, is funding. Not much more can be done without it. I have been, and as sheriff will continue, leading the charge in Pender County for concerned citizens to come before the county commissioners to override the county manager’s no funding policy, to look more closely at the options for funneling more money for the sheriff’s ofice.   

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

MK: We need to address the opioid crisis in several ways. The first line of responsibility is educating the citizens of the county with thorough information and resources in our schools. I would implement drug-related crime reports to better serve our citizens, county commissioners and the heath department, for the purpose of open communications between all departments. Then our schools and our resource officers should be teaching drug prevention and awareness in our schools. 

Currently, the sheriff’s office does not have a sufficient DARE program and has a budget of $750 to spend on DARE supplies. That does not cut it. 

What doesn’t work is turning victims into criminals. The opioid crisis is terrible in Pender County. I know a lady in a community who is known as the “NARCAN lady” because she is always picking up the NARCAN and being called for overdose emergencies sometimes daily in her community. 

There are many others doing this.

These people do not call the law because they don’t what to go to jail. They are fearful and feel threatened by law enforcement. We need other ways to comfort and treat these people so they will trust law enforcement. Addiction is how the drug dealers’ control many of the people/victims who support their profits. Not having a professional proactive community-related policing patrol division is another problem that needs attention to help save lives in our communities.

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

MK: In 2015 the county commissioners publish the expected growth in the next few years will reach 80,000 people. It was on their website, but from their actions it appears the proper planning did not occur. A new sheriff cannot update everything gone wrong, reallocate resources, and reorganize structure when you are as shorthanded and underfunded as the sheriff’s office is, and you do not have the resources at hand to do any of those things.

I have a plan I have been working on, but, ultimately, it is up to the county commissioners who have not helped this county much with essential services, despite the commissioners continued speaking at public events, emphasizing how very well off we are in Pender County because of the growing economy. We have been freeloading on the federal government and other communities, both in Pender County and outside the county boundaries.

The first thing the sheriff office needs is a professional proactive patrol division.  We currently have a reactive force of three officers at times, other than for specific needs, on patrol in a county approaching 70,000 population.

A recent incident in Surf City area proves what has been happening: A patrol officer injured needing follow-up care. A violent armed criminal confined in a K-9 cage patrol vehicle. Improper equipment and no backup. An injured officer contributed to a violent prisoner escaping, recovering his gun and drugs. Only two officers and a sergeant who’s response time was inadequate. These officers are lucky the criminal did not use his gun when he recovered it. A very dangerous situation. 

What is worse, the sheriff fired these two officers who have no recourse in the sheriffs office for a professional appeal process. In addition, what could have prevented this is the sheriff instead of accepting the veto of the county manager to increase sheriffs’ resources, he should take charge and override the manager taking it to the county commissioners. Instead, the sheriff put total blame on the officers. 

A professional proactive patrol division is the heartbeat of any law enforcement agency. This is where we get our finest officers from to move up through the ranks.  A professional patrol division can be proactive instead of just reactive or report takers. They can investigate crimes and arrest the criminals quickly rather than forwarding the reports to the overburden investigators. They can do more to prevent the horrendous accidents and fatalities in Pender County. They can do community policing finding and assisting in tracking down the drug cartels who are responsible for the many opioid causalities harming and addicting our young adults in Pender County.    

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?

MK: First off, good officers are attracted by the professionalism of the agency, benefits and pay. Pender County is a great area to move to as we have seen by the growing economy. The sheriffs office with the help of the county commissioners has to step up to attract those professional officers. The need to publish a career path such as my Gold Star program I am working on that will attract career professionals who will stick around rather than use Pender County as a stepping stone for other agencies. The sheriffs office also needs to adopt National Accreditation. Simply put, it is a national standard of professionalism for law enforcement with due process and protection for law enforcement officers. 

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

MK: The sheriff’s office, again, needs a professional proactive community-involved patrol division visible and interacting with communities. I will continue the citizens academy and as sheriff I, not my representative, will hold quarterly meetings with the public, community and businesses. 

I will sponsor a Law Enforcement Explorer program, which many agencies have so youth can work closely with law enforcement and eventually decide if they would like to serve the community as a sworn officer.  

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

MK: There will always be additional issues arising. I plan on taking all issues seriously and acting in a timely manner. I want people to hold me accountable answering their concerns.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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