On the sheriff campaign trail
Spotlight questionnaires distributed to the three candidates running for Columbia County sheriff — Dave Brown, Jim Gibson and Brian Pixley — returned insightful, and volumuinous, responses. Below is a segmented sampling of just some of the questions and responses. For access to the questionnaires and each candidate's response in its entirety, click the blue link for Dave Brown, Jim Gibson and Brian Pixley.
Spotlight: What do you believe is the public's current perception of the Sheriff's Office, and what would you do to maintain/improve that perception?
Brown: I believe the public perceives the office as an important part of the community, and they are concerned about all the chaos of the past few years. Fixing this perception requires a Sheriff to begin restoring all the volunteer functions — the Reserve, Marine, and Search and Rescue Programs, and to perform an audit or review of the functions of the Sheriff's Office and publicize it.
Spotlight: What is your opinion of some of the staffing issues that have materialized over the past year, including demotions of high-ranking officials and staff investigations, and how those have been handled?
Gibson: They have been a serious blow to the reputation of the Sheriff's Office and in my opinion were not handled as well as they should have been. I believe that friendships may have gotten in the way of doing the right thing. I believe the behaviors of the high-ranking official deserved termination of employment and that the Department of Public Safety, Standards and Training should have been asked to revoke that person's certification.
Spotlight: When information was reported about the use of a canine for a jail extraction at Columbia County Jail, do you believe — in
that instance — the canine was used appropriately?
Pixley: The use of K9s in the jail is controversial in Columbia County as well as throughout other jails and prisons across the country. As sheriff, I will be tasked with providing both the safety of jail inmates and the safety of jail personnel while at the same time reflecting the values of our community. As such, I am interested in developing another strategy to remove noncompliant inmates to serve as an alternative to the use of K9s.