Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021
The Suffolk News-Herald sent this slate of questions to Sheriff candidate E.C. Harris, who is running unopposed. You can see the questions and his answers here. He was advised that responses would not be edited, except to truncate answers at the end of the 100-word limit. Q&As with candidates for other elections will run in upcoming editions, so keep an eye on the paper and on suffolknewsherald.com.
Why are you running for Sheriff, and what makes you qualified for the position?
With approximately 40 years of law enforcement experience and having served as Suffolk’s Sheriff since January 1, 2017, I feel I’m qualified to continue providing leadership to the city I love. After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, I served as a police officer for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Police Department, Suffolk Police Department, and as Chief Investigator for the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
I am active in my community as a volunteer/officer with the Suffolk Crime Line, Suffolk Ruritan Club, Suffolk and McAllister Masonic Lodges, Police Association of Virginia, and the Fraternal Order of Police.
What would be your top three priorities if elected, and why?
If re-elected, I will work to continue to fulfill all constitutional obligations to the best of my ability. Secondly, I will continue to attract, train, and retain the most qualified professionals in Hampton Roads to serve as Deputies and support personnel. Finally, my office is on track to become accredited for the first time, which will send a message to our citizens that we are performing our duties professionally and in accordance with standards that have been approved by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.
What are the most critical issues facing the Sheriff’s office, and how would you address them?
The most critical issue we are facing at this moment is recruiting and hiring part-time deputies. Staffing issues are a problem in almost all law enforcement agencies nationwide. Our issue is finding and retaining part-time staff. Law enforcement officers who are retiring are not interested in staying in our field of work in any capacity thus there is a shortage of qualified part-time law enforcement personnel.
With the issue over evictions a big topic especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, how does the sheriff’s department handle those, and what is the department’s role in carrying them out?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, several programs were put into place to assist both the landlord and renter as it pertains to evictions. Our office provides the information about these programs to both the landlord and renter in hopes of keeping people in their home as well as seeing that the landlord is paid what is owed. However, when a judge issues an order of eviction, it is our constitutional obligation to serve that order.
What do you hope to accomplish over your next term as Sheriff?
Listening to and understanding your constituents are key for any elected official. I have spent the better part of the last four years traveling all over Suffolk – the largest City in Virginia – getting to know the citizens, hearing their concerns, and addressing the issues that matter the most to them.
In this endeavor, I have vastly increased the Sheriff’s Office community outreach and engagement activities to better serve the citizens. I will continue to engage our community through charitable work and service; I will do all I can to make this city an even better place to work.