This questionnaire was originally published by the Waxahachie Sun.
“Candidate questionnaire: Brad Norman.” The Waxahachie Sun 16 Feb. 2020: 9,13. Print.
Why are you the best-qualified candidate for this office?
I am the best qualified Sheriff candidate because I understand the complexity of responsibilities within the office. I understand there is a significant difference between the roles of a Sheriff and that of a Municipal Police Chief. I understand that policing strategies that are effective in the city don’t necessarily work in county law enforcement. I understand the Constitutional responsibilities required of the Sheriff as they relate to the jail and I am the only candidate who is TCOLE certified as a detention officer/jailer. I am approachable and I have a desire to be involved with our communities and in community events. I will be available to my constituents and will partner with them to host “Town Hall” meetings to better understand how the Sheriff’s Office can serve those communities. I want to be your Sheriff and I will work harder than any other candidate to keep Ellis County a safe place to live and raise your family.
What areas of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office do you look to strengthen/improve?
I look to strengthen and improve many areas of the Sheriff’s Office, but I believe the Sheriff’s Office must reconnect with the communities and be responsive to the needs of the public they serve. With that said, communication is one thing I plan to improve. Communication with the employees, with other law enforcement agencies, and communication with the public. I also plan to strengthen the Sheriff Office’s response to crime. Through proactive law enforcement patrol strategies and an aggressive investigative approach towards criminals who sell drugs and commit other crimes, we will improve the quality of life for the Citizens of Ellis County. The hard-working deputies, the professional detention staff, the lifesaving dispatchers, and all of the civilian personnel who make the Sheriff’s Office function want to make Ellis County a safe place to live and raise your family. I am the right person to lead the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office into the future.
What new programs would you like to implement?
One new program I would like to implement is a multi-jurisdictional investigative group who’s focused specifically on Sexual Assault, Human Trafficking, and Online Predators who target and exploit children in Ellis County. The Sheriff’s Office does not currently proactively target or investigate these types of offenses which means these criminals are able to operate freely without fear of being discovered by law enforcement. Our children are our future and we cannot continue to leave them exposed to online predators and human traffickers.
I plan to seek the involvement of other law enforcement agencies, the County and District Attorney’s Office, and the Child Advocacy Center in this program. Additionally, I plan to seek grant funding to support the investigative team and their training.
Also, I plan to take an in-depth look at implementing the 287(g) program in the Ellis County Jail. I plan to conduct a cost/benefit analysis and to review the successes and failures of the program for other agencies. Let me be clear on this issue. I do not support illegal immigration. If you came into this country illegally and you have broken the law, you should be removed. However, the enforcement of immigration laws is the responsibility of the federal government. If the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office can be a part of the regional solution to a National problem without undue burden to the taxpayers, simply by checking the immigration status of a person before they are released from jail, we will be a part of that solution.
Mental health has been a National topic for several years now. I believe law enforcement has an obligation to try and understand when a person is suffering from a mental health crisis so that a person can receive treatment in the proper facility and not just be incarcerated. To accomplish this goal, I will ensure every Ellis County Sheriff’s Deputy is certified as a Mental Health Peace Officer by TCOLE and has been trained to recognize the signs and symptoms associated with a person who is in crisis.
Please discuss your position on whether or not the county should privatize its jail.
Simply put, absolutely not. I was part of a committee that evaluated the possibility of privatizing the jail in 2011. The unanimous consensus of that committee was that privatizing the jail was not in the best interest of Ellis County, our Citizens, or the incarcerated inmates. In my review of the service offered by the private jail companies, I found that any financial savings to the county were generated from the company’s saving in labor costs. In my experience, offering lower wages and benefits in not how you attract the most qualified candidates for employment. Based on my in-depth review and research of other jails the answer became obvious. I could not recommend for the Sheriff’s Office to privatize its jail for several reasons. First, we would have lost control over the hiring process which means we could not ensure the best people were being hired to watch over our inmate population. Second, if we did privatize the jail, it would be enormously expensive to the Ellis County Taxpayers if we ever decided to return operational control of the jail back to our professional detention staff. Third, while the private jail companies say they will retain our jail staff as their own, there was an obvious trend for those private companies to terminate those employees so they could hire new staff at a lower wage. The Ellis County Detention Officers are hardworking, dedicated individuals who deserved better than to be treated the way the private jail companies treat their employees. I did not, and do not support the idea of privatizing the Wayne McCollum Detention Center.
Please discuss your position on a regional animal shelter as developed in coordination with other entities.
I support the idea of a regional animal shelter that is supported and operated in coordination with other entities. While I am unsure of any specific proposals, I can say that I am not interested in operating or staffing an animal shelter as part of the Sheriff’s Office. However, I would be open to a regional solution in which other entities and agencies participated and contributed.
Please discuss the impact of Tier 2 on Ellis County as a result of its passage.
The impact the passage of Tier 2 will have on Ellis County will be significant for a multitude of reasons. For many years our county leaders have been making decisions for the future of the county based on the belief that most of the new growth in Ellis County would occur in the cities. The cities would annex more territory and the existing housing to increase their tax base thereby removing those roads, houses, and people from county services. Simply put, as the cities grew and enveloped more land, the county’s obligations in those areas shrunk or were removed. For example, if the city annexed a road, that was one less road the county had to maintain. You can extrapolate that same principle to the Sheriff’s Office. The more the cities annexed, the fewer deputies we would need to patrol, the fewer crimes we would have to investigate. Ultimately, the end result would be that Ellis County looked like Dallas County. All cities with very small portions of unincorporated areas. The passage of Tier 2 almost guarantees Ellis County will never look like Dallas County.
Currently, there are an estimated 70,000 residents who live in the unincorporated areas of Ellis County. That number represents the largest population of any jurisdiction or city in Ellis County and that number is growing. Tier 2 ensures those county residents will never be annexed by a city against their will. It also means the county will have to provide services to those residents in the future.
Our county leaders and elected officials will have to adapt to the paradigm shift and being prepared for future growth and the problems that accompany growth. As your Sheriff, I will work with you and our county leaders to ensure we are prepared and equipped to welcome this new growth with as minimal of an impact on our current lifestyles and quality of life. I am the right person to lead the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office into this new future.
Please discuss any other challenges the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office faces over the next several years.
Over the next several years, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office will face many new challenges. Many of the new challenges surround new growth and the passage of Tier 2. Since we now need to be planning for continued growth in county population, we should also be planning for an expanded need for additional staffing and resources. The issue here is that this growth doesn’t just impact the Sheriff’s Office, it impacts every department and service the county offers. I believe the Sheriff’s Office should be using force multipliers and reserve deputies to help fill any staffing gaps until new positions can be funded.
An increase in population will equal an increase in the jail population. The jail has certain requirements and mandates for staffing based on the inmate population. While the inmate population numbers always fluctuate, being understaffed could cause the jail to be out of compliance with jail standards. The challenge here will be recruiting new detention officers and retaining our current staff.
Another challenge the Sheriff Office faces involves the implementation of new technologies that will streamline the efforts and work products of the employees. Many of the most used and vital systems at the Sheriff’s Office have been in place since shortly after I started working there in 2001. They are outdated and inefficient. As your Sheriff, I will seek grant monies and other funding sources to modernize much of the technology currently in use at the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.
In the very near future, I suspect the Sheriff’s Office will face the challenge of maintaining their response times to emergency calls for service. Traffic congestion and construction projects are steadily increasing throughout Ellis County and will impact the ability of deputies and other emergency services to respond to a scene quickly.