The two main candidates for Fairfax County Sheriff—Republican Bryan "BA" Wolfe and Democrat Stacey Kincaid—debated in a televised forum hosted by the Reston Citizens Association on channel RCTV-28 last week.
Along with reporter Alex McVeigh from Connection newspapers and Gregg MacDonald from Fairfax County Times, editor Jennifer van der Kleut of Herndon Patch and Fairfax City Patch was invited to ask questions of the candidates.
The questions ranged from gun control to diversity outreach in communities, to more mental health and crisis intervention for deputies to the idea of video cameras in the Adult Detention Center.
Wolfe, a 26-year veteran of the City of Fairfax Police Department, said his priorities would include adding video cameras to the jails and crisis intervention training for deputies to try and spot growing mental health problems in those arrested for misdemeanors and other smaller crimes before things escalate to more serious crimes or even mass shootings.
Kincaid, a 26-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office who has worked in all four branches of the office, said her priorities focused more on community outreach, especially in neighborhoods of diverse cultural backgrounds, in order to foster more cooperation and therefore safety for all residents.
Both criticized each other's priorities. Kincaid suggested that Wolfe's lack of experience with the Sheriff's Office showed he does not know what the department and therefore the county's communities really need. Wolfe said Kincaid's proposed outreach programs were just "warm and fuzzy" and not as important as things like video cameras, which might address problems like the 40 to 50 complaints each year of excessive force used by jail guards against prisoners in the Adult Detention Center—complaints he said take countless hours and valuable funds to investigate.
The two also debated matters of ethics, such as the fact that the Sheriff's Office profits from the sale of phone cards to prisoners, used for calling family members and friends.
Kincaid said profiting off of prisoners is unethical, and said studies show that when prisoners are allowed to talk to their wives, children and loved ones that their chances of repeating crimes and being jailed again in the future are lower. Wolfe said that prisoners get automatic free calls to their attorneys, religious leaders, counselors and others, and implied that a stay in jail is not supposed to be comfortable and therefore he has "no heartburn" over requiring them to pay for calls to anyone else.
When it came time to talk gun control, both said they believe in second amendment rights.
Wolfe criticized Kincaid for saying publicly that she doesn't believe citizens should be entitled to have AR-15s and 30-round magazines to protect themselves, but yet Freedom of Information Act e-mails and phone records Wolfe reportedly spent $4,000 of his own money to acquire showed she recently bought herself two of her own, a fact which is allegedly well known among her colleagues at the Sheriff's Office.
Wolfe said that showed she thinks rules should not have to apply to law enforcement officers in the same way they apply to the citizens they are supposed to represent.
As far as his own position on gun control goes, Wolfe said he believes "law-abiding citizens are not the ones doing these mass shootings" and that they should be allowed to keep their second amendment rights, and that the real solution lies in more help and screenings for the mentally ill.
Kincaid did not address the question of whether there is a gap between the rules for law enforcement officers and private citizens, but said that owning a gun is a Constitutional right.
"Guns are a constitutional right. The Constitution makes the laws; we enforce them as constitutional officers," she said, adding that she hopes the Sheriff's Office can work together more closely with mental health professionals in the community, but that if a citizen can pass all the required background checks and screenings to buy a gun, they deserve to own it.
Watch the video above for the forum in its entirety.
Note: If the video screen above looks blank, refresh the page once and it should appear. If not, you can see the video online here on RCTV28.com or here on Vimeo.
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