2012
07.31

    E-mail interview conducted with Walker County Sheriff candidates Billy Mullis, Freddie Roden, and Steve Wilson. Wilson is the incumbent. Tenth of twelve scheduled Q&A’s.

    We apologize for the delay in getting this up, the election isn’t over until 7 PM. For time purposes, remaining interviews are posted with limited editorial commentary.

LU: What is your full name, and what name do you generally go by?

    MULLIS: Billy Dewayne Mullis

    RODEN: My full name is Frederick Clinton Roden Jr. I go by Freddie.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: What is your age?

    MULLIS: 43

    RODEN: I’m 50 years old.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: What is your address? (We will only publish the street, not your house number.)

    MULLIS: [redacted] Bryant Ave. LaFayette GA 30728

    RODEN: My home address is [redacted] Chamberlain Road, Lafayette.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: How can voters contact you or stay in touch with your campaign? (Please include info like e-mail, phone, Facebook, Twitter, etc. if applicable.)

    MULLIS: [redacted] Bryant Ave., LaFayette GA 30728
    706-639-1795
    Mullis4wcso@yahoo.com
    www.billymullisforsheriff.com
    Facebook: Billy Mullis or Billy Mullis for Walker County Sheriff

    RODEN: Voters can contact me on my cellphone, 423-762-1320 or at my home # 706- 638-8124. My email address is roden2013@gmail.com. I also have a website at rodenforsheriff.com and a political FB page.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: How long have you lived in the county, and (if applicable) where else have you lived?

    MULLIS: 43 years

    RODEN: I have lived in Walker County all my life. I was raised on Garrtetts Chapel Road just south of Chickamauga.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: What’s the best thing about living in this community?

    MULLIS: Easy answer location and people

    RODEN: The best thing about living in this community is its best asset, the citizens.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: Starting as early as you want, what kind of education do you have?

    MULLIS: LaFayette High School 1987
    US Army (Calvary Scout)
    Certifications in Law Enforcement include Basic Peace Officer, Basic Police Instructor, Specialized Police Instructor, Field Training Officer, School Resource Officer, Basic and Advanced SWAT, Criminal Investigations, Detention Officer, CIT (Crises Intervention Team) and several other certifications. Over 1700 hours of police training

    RODEN: I attended Pond Springs Elementary School in the Chickamauga area and later went to high school at Chattanooga Valley High School. I attended the Rome Regional Police Academy in 1987 and became certified as a peace officer. I have over 1500 hours of law enfercement training. I hold several certifications and the one I’m most proud of is the Field Training Officer Certification. I have been involved in training numerous new deputies and when I took a leave of absence form my current job I was responsible for training the new detectives.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: What previous jobs or elected positions have you held?

    MULLIS: Veteran of the US Army
    13 years at Walker County Sheriff’s Office
    2 years as an International Police Officer in Kosovo
    almost 8 years at LaFayette Police Department
    Positions held as a law enforcement officer:
    Detention Officer, Patrol Officer (3 departments), Kosovo Police Service Coordinator, Warrants/fugitive officer (WCSO), Supervisor over Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit (WCSO), Detective (2 departments LPD/WCSO) and currently School Resource Officer.

    RODEN: My previous jobs include construction work and working for the two previous Sheriff’s of Walker County, Al Millard and Mike Ellis. This is my first time running for public office.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: Will/do aspects of your education or job experiences make you a better Sheriff? If so please explain.

    MULLIS: Yes, I am the only candidate that can say he holds certifications as a detention officer (one of the state mandated responsibilities of a sheriff). I am the only candidate to have served as a school resource officer; this gives me a unique insight to what goes on in the schools and what issues are going on with our youth. As a Walker County Sheriff Office Detective and part time LaFayette Police Department Detective I know the county and I have prosecuted numerous crimes in Walker County. My 4 years of serving warrants and working court services has served me over the years with the knowledge to be able to answer questions about warrant and civil papers. I also was the supervisor over the Walker County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Accident Prevention Unit and Community Response Unit I not only enforced the laws of Georgia but also give me the opportunity to talk to the citizens of Walker County about traffic issues and their concerns.

    RODEN: I feel like the numerous hours of training, my seventeen years of experence and my ability to train others will assist me in the Office of Sheriff. Having the unique opportunity to work for two different Sheriff’s Office’s and three different Sheriff’s has given me a good solid perspective on how the Sheriff’s Office can and should be operated effectively and efficiently. I have a strong work ethic that has always been evident and I will carry that strong work ethic into the Sheriff’s Office with me and will set the example for the employees and citizens of this county.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: What would you say is the greatest accomplishment of the sitting Sheriff, and is there anything he has done during his time in office that you intend to emulate? (All except Wilson)

    MULLIS: The Stocking Full of Love a project that started with Sheriff Al Millard. I feel this has served many of our kids in the community. I have seen how this program has grown over the years and I feel it will continue to do so. As the coordinator of the Shop with a Cop/Fireman I appreciate Sheriff Wilson’s drive to continue its growth.
    There are several things I would continue as sheriff, like the Champs program, school resource officer program, community programs (citizens academy, neighborhood watch and summer youth programs) and drug awareness programs

    RODEN: A few of his accomplishments was starting a citizens academy and having intelligence sharing meetings with other in county law enforecemnet agencies which he started this year only after I posted both of those programs on my political Facebook page last year as programs I was going to impliment after I was elected. He has since failed to continue the intelligence sharing meetings. I will continue those programs along with the Al Millard Stocking Full of Love program.

LU: During your time as Sheriff, what would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? (Wilson only)

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: What would you say is the biggest failure of the sitting Sheriff, and what actions of the incumbent would you have done differently? (All except Wilson)

    MULLIS: Politics and cover-ups overshadowing the serving of the citizens of Walker County. I am a law enforcement officer not a typical politician, so as sheriff I would be just that a SHERIFF. Examples of politics and cover-ups: Marsh crematory, Parker and Redwine incidents just to name a few.

    RODEN: I feel the biggest failure of the sitting Sheriff was the Crematory incident. What would I have done differently? The day the gas man came to my office and told me his employee seen numerous bodies lying about the Marsh property I would have left my office at that moment, drove the short didtance north to the Marsh property and checked it out myself. Once there if there had been a need for a search warrant, one would have been obtained. It would not have been ignored for another year and a half.

LU: Is there anything from your time in office that you regret or wish you could do differently? (Wilson only)

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: What are your priorities for the next four years if you’re elected/reelected?

    MULLIS: First and foremost I will make the sheriff’s office a department that serves the county and all her citizens.
    Promote a safe and secure county, from crime and the fear of crime for all citizens of Walker County by using every available resource to fight all crimes.
    Maintain and provide a safe and orderly detention center and court security.
    Apply and require core values of integrity, respect, service, and fairness from all employees and myself.

    RODEN: My priorities for the next four years is to provide the services to the citizens the Sheriff’s Office should be providing, returning the Sheriff’s Office to that of being a law enforcement agency and not a political office.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: Is there any criteria, philosophy, or overall guideline you will use when deciding how to run the Sheriff’s Office?

    MULLIS: As a law enforcement officer, the negative actions of one often reflect on all officers. To be preserved as professionals officers must demonstrate professionalism, as sheriff I will require this of all my employees. I will implement a departmental policy that I will stand by and not sweep officer involved incidents under the rug. I can go on and on about this type of question, but actions speak louder than words and if elected and I do not stand by these standards then I do not deserve to be re-elected in four years.

    RODEN: The criteria or guideline I will use to run the Sheriff’s Office will be that of operating in an ethical, moral, legal and transparent manner and always remembering who we are sworn to serve which is the citizens of Walker County. I as Sheriff will set the example for the employees.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: A core part of the Sheriff’s campaign is a claimed decrease in crime. Do you agree or disagree with the claim? Once elected, what will YOU do to reduce crime in Walker County? (All except Wilson)

    MULLIS: To say the sheriff’s claims of a decrease in crime are not correct is to say the deputies and detectives that work for him are not doing their job. Sheriff Wilson is not the one who goes out and takes reports and follows up on incidents. I have worked with these officers for many years and they do a great job. Crime is something that will always be and yes at times it is up and other times it is down. You can make the numbers look good or bad, depending on if you are for or against the department. If elected I will use every resource available to fight crime and drug activity. The biggest difference in Sheriff Wilson and me would be as sheriff I would be a WORKING SHERIFF. I will not hesitate to answer any call that I require my officers to answer and if that requires me to answer a domestic or be the first on a burglary scene then that is what I will do. I will be a sheriff in a uniform not a dress suite.

    RODEN: I do not agree with the current Sheriff’s claim of decreased crime. Any one who knows how to research the numbers the Sheriff has provided to the citizens with his claim crime has decreased will find the numbers he provides to the FBI for the Uniform Crime Reporting Stats is completely different from what he reports to the citizens. Anyone interested in seeing the acual numbers is welcome to contact me and I will provide those actual numbers the Sheriff does not provide to the citizens.
    I will take a pro-active aggressive approach in curbing the numerous burglaries and thefts occurring everyday in Walker County. Just one of the ways I will acheive this is by restructuring and reasignment of personnel and using the resources more effectivey. By using the resources currently available at Sheriff’s Office I can add an additional six to eight more deputies to the patrol division that will be responsible for patrolling the county and helping curb the theft and burglary problems we are having.

LU: A core part of your reelection campaign is a decrease in crime. What have you done as Sheriff to reduce the amount of crime in Walker County?

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: Do you feel that law enforcement agencies, judges, and prosecutors are held properly accountable under existing state laws, or are reforms needed in those areas? If so what reforms would you like to see put into place?

    MULLIS: I feel that no one person(s) is above the law nor should they be able to walk outside it. It is easy to sue a police officer on any number of things and in my 23 years I have never been named in a lawsuit and if I conduct myself in the proper manor I hope to never be involved in one. Judges are immune from lawsuits for the most part. If the citizens of Georgia feel there is a need to have reform then they need to elect senators and state representatives to reflect their values and reforms they feel are needed. As to being held accountable then if a law enforcement officer, judge or prosecutor commits a crime, then they should be held to the same standard as all other citizens in the state, No one person should be above another.

    RODEN: I feel the existing laws holding law enforcement agencies, judges and prosecutors accountable are appropriate, they just need to be enforced and followed by those holding those positions. I beleive if you get ethical people in those positions you remove the seeds of corruption.

    WILSON: [no reponse]

LU: During the sitting Sheriff’s 16 years in office, we’ve seen several crimes involving law enforcement offers or employees of the Sheriff’s Office. Do you feel these officers and employees have been held accountable for their actions, and if not what changes will you make to correct this situation? (All except Wilson)

    MULLIS: For the most part No, I know of several employees that were asked to resign and not prosecuted. After all this would reflect negatively on the sheriff and his department. As sheriff I will hold my employees to a higher standard and if one employee commits a crime, then I will ask the GBI to conduct an internal affair and if a crime is found, then that person(s) will be treated as anyone else in the county. I understand that one candidate has talked about having a citizens committee, but who would appoint those individuals to the committee, the sheriff? If that is the case what is to prevent the sheriff from placing friends on the committee to act as a shield of deniability. Do the citizens of the county not elect the sheriff to do his duty and oversee his employees? As sheriff I will not need a committee because I would not want an employee to dishonor my chosen profession.

    RODEN: There have been numerous incidents of violations of the law by SO employees that have not been held accountable for their actions. This is unacceptable and when I’m elected Sheriff every employee will be held to a higher standard and expected to set the example before the citizens we serve. Under my direction if any employee violates the law they will be dealt with according to the law as any citizen would be. Friendships, political favor or influence will not be a factor in dealing with any employee who violates the law while I’m Sheriff. This will be made clear to every current and new employee when I’m elected.

LU: During your 16 years in office, we’ve seen several crimes involving law enforcement offers or employees of the Sheriff’s Office. What steps, if any, have you taken to hold WCSO employees more accountable for their actions in the future? (Wilson only)

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: If reelected, the sitting Sheriff will begin a fifth term in January. Do you support term limits for the position of Sheriff, or should the job be available for as long as the occupant is able to hold it? (All except Wilson)

    MULLIS: I am not opposed to term limits and if the citizens of Georgia decide to impose term limits I would not have a problem with that decision. I feel that if the position of sheriff becomes more about the politics than serving the citizens and community, then it is time for a new sheriff.

    RODEN: I do support term limits. I beleive two terms (eight years) is sufficent for the office of Sheriff. After sitting out a term a person should be eligible to seek another term. I believe and its evident now in the Sheriff’s Office after four terms complacency takes over and when that happens its the citizens who suffer.

LU: If reelected this year, you will begin serving a fifth term in January. Do you intend to hang on to the position as long as you’re able, or do you have a certain goal in mind where you would be content to step aside and let someone else become Sheriff? (Wilson only)

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: Certain divisions within the Sheriff’s Office have a high level of employee turnover. What’s your explanation for this, and do you have a plan for how to fix it?

    MULLIS: When you do not have a pay scale to put all employees on an even system, then it is easy to pay some employees more then others. With a pay scale officer’s know what they will be making and what would be needed to advance. Examples would be like gaining certifications in your field or furthering education. In my experience at the sheriff’s office and talking to officers who have left and some that are still there, if you pay $10 an hour you get a $10 officer. Another big issue with officers leaving is the lack of promotions, example: a detention officer who has been there for 2 or 3 years waiting their turn to go to mandate school being passed over for a less experienced officer due to having “connections” within the department. There are a few other issues I have been advised about, but the last is something that is out of the sheriff’s hands and that is the cost of county health insurance. The only way to change this would to be able to increase the officer’s salary to offset the cost.

    RODEN: There are probably several reasons for the turnover. Lack of good hiring practices, lack of good supervision in that division and a lack of treating all employees fairly and consistantly across the board. I will put in place good supervisors who are capable of treating all their employees fairly and in line with a workable policy. The fair treatment of employees starts at the top and trickles down through the ranks. The fair treatment of employees starts with the Sheriff.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: In this economy, voters are concerned about fiscal restraint and responsibility. What changes will you make/have you made, if any, to the Sheriff’s Office to save money for Walker County taxpayers?

    MULLIS: Sheriff Wilson has talked about how he has stayed under the budget since being in office and I know that not to be the full truth. Most citizens do not know that for several years the departments patrol vehicles have been purchased out of funds not in the sheriff’s office budget. If this changes the sheriff will be over his budget quickly. Citizens do not know that the difference between a newly elected sheriff’s starting salary and what Sheriff Wilson currently makes is enough to almost pay for another deputy to put on the roads of Walker County. I will save taxpayers money by wearing a uniform and not a high dollar suit. Until taking over the sheriff’s office it is hard to say where all the possibilities to save the taxpayers dollars can be found. Another change I will have is an open policy for the budget; I will make available all expenditures on the budget.

    RODEN: I’m sure once I’m elected and have a chance to look at the budget there will be many things I will find where I can operate the Sheriff’s Office with better fiscal responsibility. I do know there are employees (both part-time and full time) at the Sheriff’s Office who currently have assigned “take home vehicles” and the vehicle are not used for any purpose other than transportation to and from work. The employees are not subject to call outs and the vehicles are only used for their transportation to work. The citizens should not have to pay for this un-needed expense for the fuel and maintenance on the vehicles. Another way I will save the citizens tax dollars is by dividing the county into more than just three sectors for the patrol division to cover. Walker County is 466 square miles in size and is covered by just seven deputies on each shift and thats on a good day when none of them are out sick, on vacation leave or in training. I will divid the county into at least five or six sectors and assign deputies to each sector. By doing this it will reduce the size of the area each deputy has to cover which also means they will use less fuel. This is just a few small examples of how I will be able to save the citizens tax dollars and operate more efficiently.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: In this year’s vote, two of the candidates for judge are employees of the Sheriff’s Office, and another has been actively campaigning with the sitting Sheriff. Do you feel it’s appropriate for judges and law enforcement leaders to have close connections, or can that lead to conflicts of interest and favoritism? (All except Wilson)

    MULLIS: I feel law enforcement and the judicial entities should have a good working relationship, but there should be boundaries. As I have stated before, no one person(s) should be above the law. I feel it is up to the voters of Walker County to decide if the actions of those implied are inappropriate as they will be the ones voting on July 31st. As sheriff I will not allow my employees to actively politic in any way while on duty, for myself or any other candidate. There is always the opportunity for conflicts of interest and favoritism, it is our own inner moral code that directs us.

    RODEN: I do not believe any candidate for public office should pair themselves with any other candidates or any other political figure for any reason. Why would any candidate for Sheriff pair up with a candidate for a judgeship if there wasn’t an agenda in place after they are both possibly elected?

LU: In this year’s vote, two of the candidates for judge are employees of the Sheriff’s Office, and you have actively campaigned along with another candidate for judge. Citizens are concerned about the impact of having a Sheriff with close ties to three judges – if you are reelected and any (or all) of those candidates win, how will you avoid conflict of interest or appearances of favoritism in the courtroom so the people of Walker County don’t lose trust in the court system? (Wilson only)

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: Please summarize in a single paragraph why residents of Walker County should vote for you in the upcoming election:

    MULLIS: I can summarize with one sentence. If the citizens of Walker County want a SHERIFF and not a politician, then vote Billy Mullis for sheriff.

    RODEN: I believe having seventeen years of law enforcement experience as a radio operator, deputy, supervisor, detective and a trainer with two local Sheriff’s Office and working for three different Sheriff’s has given me a solid perspective on how the Sheriff’s Office should be operated effectively and efficiently. I am the only candidate for Sheriff who has provided the citizens with a workable platform that will reduce crime, provide more services to the citizens and save tax dollars by operating efficiently. The incumbent is running on promises from his last campaign he was not able to get started or even impliment. A vote for me will be a vote for added protection and services for the citizens of Walker County.

    WILSON: [no response]

LU: Is there anything else voters should know about you? Family, faith, philosophy, inspirations, etc.?

    MULLIS: I am married to Kimberly Middleton Mullis (19 years)
    I have two daughters Brandy (age 15) and Kiera (age 6)
    Mother and Father: Montyne and Luther Alvin Mullis
    I attend Naomi Baptist Church with my family
    A simple Bible verse that I try to live by – Matthew 7:12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
    As a young boy I remember my grandfather (Ernest Pickard and his brother Clifford Pickard) talking to me about how serving your friends, family and community is something you can always be proud of. I felt from an early age that I was called to serve in the military like my great Uncle Cliff and serve my country and community. After injuring my knee in the service and realizing that I was not going to be able to continue as a soldier, I started looking at law enforcement as a career. For almost 23 years I have tried to make this community a place that I can make safe not only for my family, but my friends and those I do not know. I have served in highly populated areas and in small communities and there is no other place I would rather serve. Walker County is my home and as sheriff or as a police officer I will continue to serve the citizens and county I call home.
    Thank you,
    Billy Mullis

    RODEN: I want the citizens to know I have ran a solid ethical campaign that my volunteers and I are very proud of. While campaigning I have been invited to several churches by some very fine people to be introduced to others which would aid in getting my name out among the citizens and wuold certainly assist me in getting elected. While this is a good thought, I am very proud to say I have remained faithful to my church and I have not visited any other church during my campaign. Once I’m elected I will continue to remain faithful to my church and church family. I look forward to serving the citizens of Walker County as their next Sheriff.

    WILSON: [no response]

Wilson’s non-response matches his responsiveness to Walker County citizens in need all throughout his four terms as Sheriff. From ignoring dead bodies at Tri-State Crematory, ignoring the pleas of Theresa Parker a year before her husband – Wilson’s friend – murdered her, ignoring child molesters working in his department, and ignoring financial abuses at Stocking Full of Love – Wilson has never worried about the needs, concerns, or fears of his constituents unless they’re his personal friends.

Personal friends have received “professional courtesy” time and time again, allowed to get away with anything – including murder – while the average citizens battles crime, abuse, and neglect. While there are good people at the Sheriff’s Office, they struggle to do right under inattentive leadership and incompetence at the top, masked by the persona of a Good Christian Man&tr; continually defended by his family. Wilson doesn’t worry about our concerns, and he’s not worried about losing this election – all the more reason to remind him at the ballot box who pays his salary and who he’s ultimately responsible to.

In this race The LaFayette Underground STRONGLY endorses, in the strongest way possible, ANYONE but Steve Wilson.

Elections are today from 7 AM to 7 PM. LaFayette residents vote at the Walker Co Senior Center, voting locations for other residents vary. Voting ends in less than two hours.

THE RULES:

Last week the Underground e-mailed candidates for 12 competitive local races (all except County Surveyor) a series of questions. Candidates who have no opponent on the July ballot were not included; those with opposition in November will be contacted before the November vote.

Candidates were asked to respond to the questions via e-mail by a certain deadline, and were instructed not to share their answers with each other before we made them public. Every candidate in the same race was given the same set of questions except where noted above.

Candidates who did not respond by the deadline have [no response] after their name for each question asked, and candidates who responded but chose to skip certain questions are marked [no response]. Responses received after this point will not be accepted for a full post, but candidates are welcome to add to their responses, answer questions, or respond to our opinions in the comment section below.

Answers are copied directly from e-mail without corrections or changes except for redaction of addresses. Redactions or any editorial clarifications of questions or answers are made in [brackets]. Our thoughts are in italics beneath the responses.

Additional Q&A responses will be posted up until election day.

All LaFayette Underground 2012 Election Posts

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