Ann Arbor Area Community News
1. What will you do to repair the relationship with the West Willow and African American communities after the incident involving the Sheriff’s Department which led to a death and severe injuries (and a subsequent law suit and settlement against the Sheriff’s Department)? (Question by Kathy Wyatt)
Iva Bielec: I will reach out to the New West Willow Home Association immediately. I will participate in citizens meetings assuring them this type of incident will not happen on my watch. I will instruct every deputy/detective on their conduct and handling of this type of incident. I will immediately start proceeding fromsuspension to firing if this type of incident occurred during my watch. As Sheriff, I am responsible for every Sheriff Department employee and everythingthey do reflects back on the Sheriff.
Jerry Clayton: First let me state that repairing the relationship with all of the residents that feel disconnected and or underserved by the WCSO is critical to the ultimate success of the organization and to our goal of being a positive impact on the community and positively impacting the quality of life for all the residents of WC. With that stated, repairing the relationship in West Willow and with African Americans (and others) in general will take some time and requires a steadfast commitment by the entire organization and the community as well. We recognize that the relationship did not get to its current state in a short period of time and we do not expect to reach our goal of a “Mutually Trusting, Respectful and Collaborative Relationship” over night, but we do believe that such a relationship is possible. The steps that I believe we must take while traveling that road toward our goal is as follows:
1. Commit to establishing and maintaining a strong relationship
2. Gain a better understanding of each other
3. Hold each other responsible for their role in the relationship
2. Given that an unsuccessful lawsuit against Washtenaw County by the Sheriff’s office has cost the County an estimated $238,000 in legal fees, there was a more than substantial settlement against the Sheriff’s Department based on the conduct of sheriff’s deputies (which the County wil have to pay), and ongoing overtime costs, what will you do to improve the financial management of the Sheriff’s office and avoid these types of costs in the future when the County is facing a budget crisis? (Question by Kathy Wyatt)
Iva Bielec: I will re-address road patrol looking at availability in certain areas, accountability in certain areas, look at run sheets, manpower, reserves to address the overtime issues. I will look at shipping out certain type of offenders to other areas on a 3-6 month offense. I will demand respect and discipline. The conduct of a deputy will be of the highest level, I will not settle for any less. I will be investigating each department within the Sheriff’s management. I will find ways the cost of operating some of these department can be cut. I will work on combining departments to cut costs. After seeing the budget I am sure there are other areas of decreasing costs.
Jerry Clayton: As stated in the question itself, some of the undue financial burden placed on the county occurred as a result of lawsuits brought by the Sheriff as he and the “county” fought over “contract policing”. I believe one way of reducing the burden is not to initiate litigation against the county. I stand strong in my belief that the quality of life for all county residents as it relates to public safety is positively impacted by a strong sheriffs’ office road patrol presence. I also believe that we can move the discussion in that direction through a collaborative process involving all the stakeholder groups. It is critical for the Sheriff to lead that collaborative approach and in the face of philosophical disagreement and personal differences of opinion remind all stakeholders that each must remain steadfast in their commitment to provide public safety service to all county residents. Internally, the Sheriff as leader of the Office must make fiscal responsibility along with maintaining public safety and providing excellent police services a top priority and value within the organization. Organizational decisions (at all levels of the agency) must be made in the context of “what is good for the residents of the county from a public safety, fiscally responsible and quality service perspective.
3. How will you repair relationships between the sheriff’s department, the county commission, and the townships? (Question by Chuck Warpehoski)
Iva Bielec: Communication is paramount. Communication and accessibility would be of the highest caliber. I have good working relationships with townships from my term as clerk.
Jerry Clayton: As the newly elected Sheriff, there is an opportunity to start a new relationship between the BOC and the elected officials within the county that cannot be squandered. I understand the importance of communicating with your partners early and often and as Sheriff I will engage immediately. My staff and I will attend the regularly scheduled meetings and initiate additional opportunities for interested stakeholders to meet and communicate. I have plans to involve the Sheriffs’ Office in areas that have traditionally been ignored or avoided (juvenile related issues, education, employment), not in an attempt to takeover, but hopefully to gain a better understanding of issues that are important to others and to explore if the influence of the Sheriffs’ Office can assist in their efforts. All successful relationships require some give and take and a willingness to sacrifice and assist your partner(s). I am committed to that process.
4. What would you do as Sheriff of his county should do to prevent future occurrences like the death of Clifton Lee, Jr.? (Question by Mark Koroi)
Iva Bielec: I will be a leader first. I will demand discipline, respect, accountability, and intensive training anything less is unacceptable. I will be addressing moral issue and attitude issues. Professionalism is a must.
Jerry Clayton: Given the nature of law enforcement I do not believe that any police chief or sheriff will guarantee that an occurrence like the Clifton Lee incident will never happen. I can assure the residents of Washtenaw County that as Sheriff I will establish very clear guidelines and directions regarding the expected conduct of my staff during situations involving contact with members of the community. I will provide my staff with the training necessary for them to perform their duties proactively, safely and courteously and without violating anyone’s rights. I will also insist that our supervisors and managers monitor our staff’s behavior and performance to ensure that our expectations are being met. If they are not, we will conduct the proper assessment to determine the root cause and respond appropriately as an organization. Finally, we will create an organizational environment that values positive relationships with the community and hope to motivate the community to share in that value towards our staff and agency.
5. Do you believe that the posting of Sheriff Minzey’s face on gasoline pumps has led to a decrease in petroleum theft and ,if elected, would you continue this practice? (Question by Mark Koroi)
Iva Bielec: I will absolutely not continue the practice of posting the Sheriff’s face on gasoline pumps. It serves no purpose except to waste taxpayers dollars. If a person is intent on stealing a posting with a face on it is not going to stop them. This is hard times, the economy is bad, and people are going to resort to theft. To me the posting of Sheriff Minzey’s face on gasoline pumps is a hostile tactic, a threat against the public.
Jerry Clayton: As Sheriff, I will work with business owners to address any threats to their businesses and public safety, but I have no plans to implement any strategies that include pictures of myself on gasoline pumps.
Note: This is posted by Chuck Warpehoski, so he, not Nancy Shore, get’s the blame for any misrepresentations or botched cut-and-paste jobs.
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