Why are you seeking office?
It was always my lifelong ambition to become a Texas Sheriff and I have always felt compelled by a sense of duty to serve my fellow citizens. I have spent my entire professional career in the service of the law, striving to make a difference in the lives of those whom I served. The fact is, we live in a time when too many public officials willingly choose to ignore the rule of law and are willfully ignorant of the freedoms that our Constitution enshrines. As your Sheriff, I will continue to stand to achieve order and respect for our constitutional rights and to do what is necessary to protect those rights for everyone. Cognizant of the public safety issues associated with the County’s steady population growth, I know we are at our safest when we work together. To accomplish the tremendous task of keeping our communities safe, I am relying on the help and support of you, the engaged citizen. I work for you, a fact of which I am daily reminded and never lose sight. I am asking for your support, endorsement, and prayer in this journey, as I humbly seek a second term as your Collin County Sheriff.
What is your vision and goal for this office? What do you want to accomplish?
We are blessed to have had my predecessor, Terry G. Box, at the helm for over 30 years as the Collin County Sheriff. Sheriff Box started with fewer than 50 employees in 1985 and built his office into a large professional organization that now under my watch employs 557 personnel. As the County continues its explosive growth, the Sheriff’s Office faces new challenges, new changes, new technology and an increased demand for even greater transparency. My goal is for the Collin County Sheriff’s Office to be recognized as the most professional and competent Sheriff’s Office in the State of Texas, providing the best service possible to every citizen in this county. My goal is to have every deputy and detention officer trained to the highest standard, and to create and maintain those organizational practices and programs that support and reinforce the concepts and practices that are advanced in the continued professional education that we will provide for every employee. All citizens, whether living within a municipality or in an unincorporated area of Collin County, have the right to expect their deputies to be as professional and well trained as any state or local officer within Texas. Carefully selected, well trained, well equipped, and well led employees, translate into safer communities. As we move into the future preparing to meet new challenges, I am committed to continuing the legacy and tradition of excellence that the professionals of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office have earned.
What are some pressing issues facing Collin County over the next 5 years, and how will you address them?
I believe the most important issue facing the County is the protection of our citizens and children in a time when we see an escalation of mass violence and terrorist activity on the rise across our State. We must constantly work towards achieving the optimum level of staffing and protocols necessary to most effectively collaborate with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners as we gather, analyze and disseminate meaningful intelligence information that can be used to deter deadly attacks. We must be vigilant.
Secondly, we must keep an eye on unfunded federal and state mandates that carry unintended consequences. Laws aimed at criminal justice reform that create more regulation, processes and work, without a funding mechanism can be deleterious to any organization and its personnel. The key here is to work closely with legislators to pass smart laws and reforms that serve justice and help make our citizens safer, while not unnecessarily burdening the taxpayer.
From an organizational standpoint, one of the most pressing issues will be maintaining the professional standards of detention officers and staff, while providing for the safety and well-being of 1,100+ inmates in the county jail. As the County’s population increases, we will experience a growth in the jail population. Planning for growth in the jail, setting and exceeding high standards, and providing quality professional education and training for deputies, detention officers and staff must be a continual process to ensure the safety of the officers, inmates and the citizens of Collin County.
From a community standpoint, the most pressing issues facing the County will likely center around our population growth and the strain on existing law enforcement staffing as calls for service from the Sheriff’s Office increase. The work being done throughout the County on our transportation infrastructure may require deputies to handle an increased volume of calls for service as road construction almost always causes a variety of unexpected problems, i.e., road hazards, traffic congestion, breakdowns, and accidents.
Unfortunately, chemical dependency continues to be a major problem across the Unites States. One specific problem in this area is the reported increase in the use of heroin and fentanyl. With enforcement efforts aimed at curbing the prescription drug epidemic raging throughout this country, many addicts have turned to heroin and fentanyl as a substitute for the prescription painkillers they now find much harder to acquire. With increased use of heroin and fentanyl, we could see a rise in the number of overdoses, deaths, and property loss caused by those who turn to crime to support their drug habit. As the Collin County Sheriff, I will continue working with other stakeholders from every community to coordinate efforts at education, treatment, and enforcement designed to help reduce the use of narcotics and dangerous drugs. We will also continue our criminal highway interdiction efforts as we seize loads of narcotics and dangerous drugs on the open highways from smugglers that transit our county.
What is the role of the County Sheriff?
The sheriff is a constitutionally created office in the State of Texas with duties prescribed by the legislature (Texas Constitution Article V, Section 23). The sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer for a county and is responsible for investigating crimes and upholding Texas state laws, enforcing judgments, and maintaining communications and the sharing of criminal intelligence with other law enforcement organizations. Sheriff’s deputies have countywide jurisdiction, but in practice, most sheriff offices concentrate their activities outside the city limits where municipal officers do not have jurisdiction to operate. Sheriffs in some counties, like Collin, also aid in the security of the courthouse. Sheriffs and their staff operate county jails and provide for the safety and well-being of inmates on a daily basis. Sheriffs and their staff ensure that quality jail standards are maintained in order to pass the annual TCJS jail inspection. Sheriffs and deputies provide law enforcement services in the unincorporated areas of their counties and they liaise with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to develop crime reduction strategies. Lastly, the Collin County Sheriff and staff work to enhance the Training Academy to ensure that all participants are receiving current state-of-the-art law enforcement training.
As your Sheriff, I will continue to maintain justice at all times, while honoring the rule of law; I will maintain the peace and protect our citizens; I will constantly work to improve the professional standards of the Sheriff’s Office; and I will lay myself under the most solemn oath to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Texas.
Describe two law enforcement positions that you have held, which you believe best qualify you for Sheriff?
For 7 ½ years, I was the Chief Investigator for New Mexico’s 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Throughout that time, I prepared, coordinated and implemented training programs for local law enforcement officers with an eye towards prosecution of homicide, rape, robbery, burglary and white-collar crime defendants. I organized incoming investigative files, made assignments and coordinated major investigative cases between state/local law enforcement agencies within the district. Additionally, for four years, I was assigned as a law enforcement liaison to Los Alamos National Laboratory and supported federal and state law enforcement agencies in the investigation of high technology crime. I have assisted local agency investigators with major felony investigations and participated in the district-wide Homicide Task Force. I have experience conducting public corruption and internal affairs investigations, and on numerous occasions assisted the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and federal agencies on special investigations. During my tenure as the Chief Investigator, I acted as adjunct to prosecuting attorneys in all phases of bringing cases to trial. I supervised the District Attorney Support Staff Division as well as the Criminal Investigations Division. In 1987, I briefed the Vice President of the United States, U.S. Attorney General, and Secretary of the Department of Energy on my proposal suggesting the use of DOE laboratories to perform forensic analysis on seized computers.
In 2011, I served as the Second Assistant District Attorney and Chief of Special Prosecutions for the Collin County District Criminal District Attorney’s Office. I managed all operational aspects of the District Attorney’s Office as directed by the District Attorney or First Assistant and I directly supervised and managed the Special Prosecution Division, Law Enforcement Liaison Program, Hot Check Department, Bond Forfeiture Section, Asset Forfeiture Program, and Civil Division for Open Records Act responses and mental commitments. I compiled, correlated and analyzed all statistical data related to each area of responsibility and tracked jail population data in order to adjust in-house systems to increase the efficiency of district attorney office operations. I managed the District Attorney’s website, collecting and sending data to the webmaster for monthly updates. I developed and conducted continuing legal education training for presentation to 65-plus prosecutors and assisted the District Attorney in developing policies and systems for District Attorney operations. I reviewed the Texas Rangers investigations of all police-related shootings and then conducted grand jury presentations on these matters. I also coordinated with the Fusion Center for analytical support in criminal prosecutions. At the direction of the District Attorney, I prepared press statements for distribution by the County’s Public Information Officer (PIO) and communicated with the media on an as-needed basis. Lastly, I directly handled citizen complaints and/or allegations of criminal wrongdoing and then took the appropriate steps to address those matters.
My experiences described here, and as a uniformed police officer, a narcotics agent and task force coordinator, a detective, a SWAT team member, a special prosecutor, a deputy sheriff and a lawyer have given me a unique perspective with which to view the criminal justice system. My career experience has given me a variety of skills that uniquely qualify me to continue serving as your Sheriff.
What qualities and experiences make you the best candidate for the position?
My parents raised my siblings and me to live our lives worthy of the sacrifices that others have made so that we might enjoy the freedoms and liberties that we do in the United States. I was raised to believe that self-knowledge, attitude, courage, determination, and resiliency matter. I believe that I possess each of these traits and that I have the professional knowledge, competence and character to successfully lead the men and women of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office into the future. I know the sting and crushing sadness that comes with the death of a friend and fellow police officer, yet I have also experienced the joy and pride of serving well and making a positive difference in the lives of fellow citizens. I believe that I possess the maturity, the knowledge, and the leadership skills to lead this professional law enforcement organization into the future as their next Sheriff.
What is the duty of a Sheriff to protect citizen’s rights?
It is the duty of a Sheriff and any every other duly elected public official to protect every citizen’s inalienable, God-given rights that are guaranteed in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Tell us about your values and belief system. What is it based on and how did you develop it?
My mother was an elementary school math teacher and my father was an American soldier who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. We were raised to love God and country; work hard; respect others; be courageous, resilient and determined; and be disciplined in mind, body, and spirit. We were raised to believe that serving others is an obligation due for the privilege of living in the greatest nation on earth.
We were taught that we could make a difference in the lives of others and that we could succeed in all things if we are willing to accept responsibility, fulfill our duty, tell the truth, remain faithful to our word, and seek God’s guidance. The military taught me to lead from the front; and great law enforcement leaders taught me to always act as a steward, working to leave my command better than I found it. This is what I have done throughout my life, and will continue to do as long as I remain the Collin County Sheriff.
To what extent will you enforce any of the gun restriction laws coming from Washington, DC?
To the extent that the federal government would insist or mandate that our deputies enforce federal laws related to restrictions on guns, I would rely on the 2008 Supreme Court decision in Printz v. US, 521 US 898 (1997) and refuse to allow any Collin County Sheriff’s deputy to participate in any such activities.
In Printz, two sheriffs challenged the constitutionality of the Brady Act’s provisions, objecting to the use of congressional action to compel state officers to execute a federal law that required them to do mandatory background checks on gun purchasers. The Printz case allows local and state officials to refuse to enforce federal regulations curbing individual rights. This ruling was in agreement with an earlier 1992 US Supreme Court decision that held “[t]he Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program.” New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 188 (1992).
In 2008, the Supreme Court in Heller v. District of Columbia, 554 US 570 (2008), held in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to federal enclaves and protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The decision did not address the question of whether the Second Amendment extends beyond federal enclaves to the states.
Two years later, in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), the Supreme Court held that “the right to keep and bear arms,” protected by the Second Amendment, is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment and applies to the States. This ruling protects these rights from infringement by local governments.
I will not allow my deputies to participate in any unconstitutional gun confiscation scheme. If faced with this untenable situation, in accordance with my oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, I would seek relief through the courts to stop such activities.
Pol. Adv. paid for by the Jim Skinner Campaign, Charlie O'Reilly, Treasurer.