Isaacs seeks his fifth term

Published 11:03 pm Saturday, August 29, 2009

Raleigh Isaacs is seeking a fifth term at the head of the Suffolk Sheriff’s Department.

The election will be held Nov. 3 at polling places across the city.

“I’m really very proud to run based on my last 16 years of service,” Isaacs said. The sheriff was approached by his deputies and others in the community and asked to run again, he said.

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Isaacs initially ran for the office of sheriff after spending 23 years with the Suffolk Police Department, as well as nine years with the Norfolk Police Department. The 1993 election for sheriff initially featured several candidates he did not think were suited for the job, Isaacs said.

“They were not complementary to the law enforcement profession,” Isaacs said. “That was really my main reason — credibility within this office.”

Isaacs won that election, and the three following in 1997, 2001 and 2005. During his tenure there, he has served as the president of the Virginia Association of Local Elected Constitutional Officers, the president of the Virginia Sheriff’s Association, and received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Virginia State Police in 2002.

Isaacs claims a number of accomplishments in his time at the sheriff’s department — most notably saving money.

“One of my main focuses is to save taxpayers money,” he said.

One of Isaacs’ first moves in 1994 was to talk to the city about the possibility of hiring part-time sheriff’s deputies. He went out and recruited retired local and state police officers to work for him part-time. During the past 16 years, Isaacs estimates he’s saved more than $7 million by not having to pay benefits for the part-time deputies, in addition to money saved in training costs.

“It really is a win-win for everyone,” he said. “The city saves the money, we get the benefit of having experience.”

The department’s 24 full-time and 13 part-time employees average 34 years of law enforcement experience, Isaacs said.

In addition, Isaacs claims “practically zero turnover” in his years as sheriff, except for employees who retired from the office. He’s also instituted programs such as the scholarship program, which has given away 43 scholarships; a juvenile identification program, which provides parents with a kit to record their child’s vital information; and a gun lock safety program, which gives gun locks away free to citizens who request them.

Isaacs also boasts of coming up with the idea of turning a room in the courthouse’s inmate lockup area into two interview rooms, where attorneys can talk to their clients before they arrive in the courtroom.

“It saves the court time, it saves my bailiffs time, it cuts down costs,” Isaacs said.