The candidates for Dare County Sheriff, incumbent Sheriff Rodney Midgett (D) and challenger Officer Doug Doughtie (R), recently responded via email to a series of questions posed by the Editor.  Their unedited responses to six questions are posted below.

Do you support the NC Sheriffs’ Association proposal that Sheriffs’ Offices have access to the DHS prescription drug database?  Why or why not?

Sheriff Rodney Midgett

Yes, I do support the NC Sheriffs’ Association proposal that Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigators have access to the N. C. Controlled Substance Reporting System (CSRS) data base.  I was one of three Sheriffs that made a presentation to a joint legislative committee on health in Raleigh last month where this proposal was one of the enhancements to the CSRS laws that we presented.  In addition, I have just been appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve on a Joint Legislative Task Force to study how the laws that govern access to the CSRS can be enhanced to provide better access to health care providers, law enforcement agencies and whether or not doctors should be required to obtain continuing education on recognizing addiction.  I do not support what has been reported in some of the news media.  What I have proposed is that trained narcotics officers with specific training in how to investigate cases where legal drugs have been diverted for illegal purposes have access to the system when those officers have an open documented case and there is at a minimum reasonable suspicion that an individual has violated the criminal laws of North Carolina by obtaining prescription drugs illegally.  In addition, any request would have to be submitted to the Office of the N. C. Attorney General for review to ensure that a reasonable suspicion indeed existed and that access to the information in the CSRS would assist in a criminal investigation.   If it was found that any confidential information was improperly disclosed by an officer, then the offending officer would be subject to criminal prosecution.  I do not support unlimited access to the CSRS by any law enforcement agency that would allow them to make an inquiry without good cause.

Officer Doug Doughtie

I do not support the NC Sheriffs’ Associations proposal.  The reason I do not, is doctors and pharmacists both have access to this site already. If the law is going to be changed I think it should be mandatory that doctors be required to consult the list when prescribing controlled substances.  I think we should add pharmacists to that list and then the healthcare professionals that are entitled to that information would be responsible to use that information. A prescriber could check the history of a patient that is in their office for a controlled substance prescription and pharmacies could access data revealing if a patient is shopping at multiple pharmacies to fill narcotics at more than one location.  That information would allow the dispensers to cut down on the number of pills they dispense to “doctor shoppers”.   This is a different but acceptable approach to combat the problem without allowing law enforcement officers who aren’t healthcare providers’ access to the same database of prescription information.

Breaking and entering is a common crime in Dare County.  What innovative ideas do you propose to help combat this problem?

Sheriff Rodney Midgett

I would continue to do as we do now.  When the Sheriff’s Office is investigating cases of breaking and entering in the unincorporated areas of the county, we send out press releases to the local media so that we can reach the broadest number of residents to inform them of what is happening in their community.  We then canvass the neighborhoods where the crimes have occurred to talk to neighbors one on one to inform them of what has happened and to inquire if they have seen anything that might be useful to the investigation.  In addition, we ask them to be vigilant and to call our investigators if they do see anything suspicious. We consult with the other local law enforcement agencies to determine if they would have any information that would assist us.  This is just good police work.   If there is enough interest in a neighborhood to sustain a community watch program, then officers of the Sheriff’s Office will assist them in establishing one.  The Sheriff’s Office will continue to do what we do now.  If we can establish a pattern of behavior by those committing these offenses through analysis of the crimes, we reassign extra personnel from their regular duties to the communities to conduct extensive surveillance in an effort to apprehend the perpetrators.  This has proven to be successful in the past.

Officer Doug Doughtie

As an Investigator, I know that the Law Enforcement community in Dare County struggles with this issue in weekly meetings, especially in the winter months due to so many vacant homes. Increased police presence in specified areas where these crimes are abundant have been used with some success and a minimal cost to the agencies.  The use of notification forms that look similar to a parking ticket, both inform the general public and dissuade criminals (this shows the criminal that Law Enforcement is active in the area and most likely not a smart place to commit crimes).  The use of burglar alarms that are inexpensive and can be moved from one location to another with minimal trouble allows police departments to monitor activity in residences in these high volume crime areas.  The purchase of cameras similar to those implemented in Elizabeth City has also been discussed.  Elizabeth City and others have had great results in curbing all kinds of different crimes in certain areas. This is the most expensive idea but with the number of break-ins being over the 200 mark last winter from Corolla to Hatteras, with the amount of property damage and the property stolen, it would provide immediate return on investment with the detection of these crimes as they are happening, or deterring of these crimes being attempted.  Additionally, financial cooperation with insurance companies, law enforcement and realty companies are possible partners that could possibly share in the investment and reap the rewards.   However, cooperation between departments and citizen involvement remains, quite possibly, the most valuable tool in fighting these sorts of crimes.

Given the economic climate, the Sheriff’s office may be asked to do more with less in future budgets.  What steps would you take to control costs without adversely affecting public safety?

Sheriff Rodney Midgett

There is not much left to cut in our law enforcement, detention center or emergency communications budgets  except for cutting personnel.  If personnel were to be cut, it will adversely affect the services that the Sheriff’s Office provides.  If we do have these cuts, personnel would have to be reassigned from the duties that they are now performing which is going to have a direct impact on public safety.  In order to keep this from happening, I would lobby our Board of Commissioners in an effort to educate them on what would happen if it occurs.  I would also solicit the support of the citizens in Dare County and encourage them to inform the Board of how they felt so the Board would be informed of the ramifications of its decisions.

 

 

Officer Doug Doughtie

In the current economic climate, everyone is doing more with less.  Government should be no different.  Numerous resources exist, through federal channels, to Law Enforcement for procuring various equipment and training – these options have not and are not being explored by the current administration.  The Sheriffs Office is not a bloated department.  I will work with the County Commissioners, not against them, to see where and if other services within the county could possibly be brought under the Sheriff and operated in a more efficient manner and lower the overall costs to tax payers.

 

 

Do you believe that the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms as recently affirmed by the Supreme Court?

Sheriff Rodney Midgett

Yes

 

 

 

 

 

Officer Doug Doughtie

Most definitely yes! The Second Amendment provides Americans a fundamental right to bear arms that cannot be violated by state and local governments.

 

 

 

 

The State of Arizona recently passed a law that requires law enforcement officials, during a lawful stop, detention or arrest, to ascertain the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in this country illegally.  Do you support such a law in North Carolina?  Why or why not?

Sheriff Rodney Midgett

I do not support such a law in North Carolina.  I have served on a committee of N.C. Sheriffs and officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for several years that addressed immigration issues in North Carolina.  In serving on this committee, it has become very clear to me that ICE does not have the capacity to take into custody every illegal alien in North Carolina, much less the United States.  If such a law was to be passed and it required that anyone that was not in this country legally was to be taken into custody, it would fall to the local governments to house these people until such time as ICE could or would process them for deportation.  That would cause Dare County and the other counties in North Carolina to incur a huge expense.  Our jails would not hold them all.  What I do support is a policy that  I instituted about one year ago that requires that any individual that is arrested for a criminal offense, regardless of whether he or she is an American citizen, is fingerprinted.  Those fingerprints are then checked not only against the FBI’s national criminal records data base but also ICE’s data base to determine if the individual is wanted by ICE for any violation.  If they are wanted by ICE, then that individual is detained and held for ICE.  Dare County is one of the few counties in North Carolina participating in this project as of now.  ICE intends to extend this to all of our counties in the future.

Officer Doug Doughtie

I would support a law that is similar to the Arizona Law; quite simply, it is the right thing to do.  Additional facts to support that come from FAIR, which estimates the current annual costs of illegal immigration from just three program areas – educating children in primary & secondary schools, medical services in emergency rooms and incarceration – amount to $36 Billion dollars.  If the population of foreign low wage workers is allowed to increase as a result of a lack of securing our boarders and enforcing the laws currently in place, this figure will naturally rise.  Estimates are that the annual fiscal costs in 2010 would increase by nearly 70% to $61.5 Billion for just these same three program areas.  This amount would swell by an additional 73% to $106.3 Billion by 2020.
**NC State Senator Don East filed a state Senate Joint Resolution that would allow a version of Arizona’s immigration bill to be filed during the short session of the NC Legislature this year.

North Carolina’s legislature, at that time, was currently in what is called the “short session’ where only bills relevant to the state budget are allowed to be filed. It requires a joint resolution to be passed to waive that rule.

Passage of the joint resolution would allow Senator East to file the state’s version of the Arizona bill, which would be titled:  An act to create the crime of willful failure to carry or complete an alien registration document.

In checking with the final legislative documents for 2010, I saw no action that was carried out in regards to this joint resolution.

Checkpoints are common in Dare County.  Many people consider them a violation of civil liberties.  Do you agree or disagree?

Sheriff Rodney Midgett

The United States Supreme Court and the North Carolina Supreme Court have both held that checkpoints, when operated under certain conditions, are not a violation of civil liberties.  So my answer is I do not agree with the assessment that checkpoints are a violation of civil liberties if they are conducted under the guidelines that the court has set.  As a law enforcement official, I will use every lawful tool available to me to identify and get criminals off the street and into the criminal justice system.

 

 

 

Officer Doug Doughtie

Checkpoints are a sensitive issue nationally.  I, personally,  do not see checkpoints as a violation of civil liberties, but do see it as a necessary tool to remove people from the public roadway that are in violation of NC motor vehicle laws.  Although checkpoints are a minor inconvenience to the traveling public, checkpoints serve as a valuable tool in making the public roadways a safer place for all.  However, with that said, there is definitely potential for abuse of checkpoints.  I believe that checkpoints should be operated sporadically and with a purpose.

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