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Candidate Q&A – Harold Dennis, candidate for DeKalb County Sheriff

Avondale Estates campaign coverage Crime and public safety Decatur Kirkwood Metro ATL Tucker

Candidate Q&A – Harold Dennis, candidate for DeKalb County Sheriff

Harold Dennis. Photo provided to Decaturish
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About this series:

Decaturish sent questions to candidates running for DeKalb County Sheriff. The election is March 24, which also coincides with the state’s presidential preference primary. We will publish the candidates’ responses throughout the week. For more information about voting in the upcoming election, please see the note at the end of this post. For all of our 2020 election coverage, visit Decaturishvotes.com

Decaturish needs your help covering the 2020 elections. If you value independent local news that isn’t behind a paywall, consider becoming a monthly supporter of Decaturish. For as little as $3 a month, you can help us provide you with quality and comprehensive election coverage. For more information about becoming a paid supporter, click here

1) Why are you running for this position? 

I believe I am qualified for the position and can produce exceptional results. I also believe that DeKalb County needs a sheriff who is respected, valued and working for the citizens of DeKalb County.

2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?

I believe I’m a better candidate because I have the heart of the people and the men and women who serve that agency.

3) If elected, what will be your top two or three priorities?

– Ensure public safety by implementing a crime suppression team, home invasion task force and human sex trafficking task force.

–  Ensure open communication by implementing a citizens review board to build working relationships with various businesses throughout the community.

– Reduce response times to calls by aiding the DeKalb Police Department on 911 calls.

4) The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office has a reputation of being a corrupt institution. Do you think this reputation is deserved and, if so, what would you do to change it? 

I don’t think we should focus on the past, but move into the future.  I believe the best way to make changes is to start at the beginning.  Corruption reduces accountability and distorts representation.  I believe by being transparent, it empowers our citizens to hold the sheriff’s office to a higher standard, which reduces corruption, misuse of funds and improves the overall quality of the department.

5) As sheriff, what will be your policy regarding cooperation with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement? 

As sheriff, it’s my responsibility to adhere to state and federal laws.

6) As sheriff, what will be your policy on housing transgender inmates?

First, I would allow the inmate to be searched by their gender identity. The inmate could also make a preference of where they would like to be housed with some exceptions. Inmates will also be addressed by their chosen name as well as their gender pronoun. Lastly, I would require gender awareness course and training to ensure all employees understand the new policies.

7) Within the last year, local activists have raised concerns about the treatment of people held within the county jail. Do you feel inmates in the jail are being mistreated? If so, what would you do to change it? 

Again, I can only address the plans for the future.  Transparency would eliminate accusations of mistreatment by the implementation of sensitivity training and also activating the citizens review board.

8) Prior to his retirement, Sheriff Jeffrey Mann was facing the possibility of having his certifications revoked due to an arrest in Atlanta in 2017 for exposing himself in a public park. Do you agree with his decision to remain on the job instead of resigning following his arrest and guilty plea?

I believe that he should have listened to his constituents and resigned.

9) As sheriff, what will you do to help rehabilitate inmates in the county jail?

With the help of the community (i.e. GED classes, trade schools, various non-profit organizations), I hope to create programs that introduce citizens back into the community.

10)  This question comes from a reader: The Georgia Department of Corrections recently made a policy change to provide free and unrestricted access to feminine hygiene products to women in state facilities. This does not apply to county facilities. Will the Sheriff ensure this policy is also implemented and upheld at the DeKalb County jail?

I think we go with what works best.  Since there is continued success with the program through the Georgia Department of Corrections, I believe we should also provide free and unrestricted access to feminine hygiene products to women.

11)  Another question from a reader: It currently costs $2.70 for a 15-minute call for those in the county jail. Will the Sheriff continue allowing private to charge such high rates for family communication? 

We will re-write polices where inmates will receive free outgoing phone calls.

12)  What will be your family visitation policy for inmates?

I think the hours should be from 8:00 am until 7:00 pm.  These hours would be best suited for inmates because of other obligations.

13) What will be your approach to mental healthcare at the county jail? 

I will continue to give mental healthcare, however, there will be continuous monitoring to ensure inmates are receiving adequate care.

14) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?

I intend to conduct myself in an ethical and moral standard based on my Christian upbringing.

More information about voting in the March 24 election:

The voter registration deadline for the March 24 presidential primary is Feb. 24.

You can look up your status by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page.” To visit the My Voter Page, click here. You can check your status by providing basic information like your last name, birthday and the county you live in. You can also see a sample ballot.

If you find you are not registered, there are a few ways you can get back on the voter rolls.

You can register online with the Secretary of State’s Office by clicking here.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, in order to register to vote you must:

– Be a citizen of the United States

– Be a legal resident of the county where you are voting

– Be at least 17 1/2 years of age to register and 18 years of age to vote

– Not be serving a sentence for conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude

– Have not been found mentally incompetent by a judge

For more information about how to register, click here.

People who wish to vote will need to bring one of the following forms of identification, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office:

– Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including a free ID Card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)

– A Georgia Driver’s License, even if expired

– Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state

– Valid U.S. passport ID

– Valid U.S. military photo ID

– Valid tribal photo ID

The county board of registrar’s office is located at 4380 Memorial Drive Suite, 300, Decatur, GA 30032.

Early voting will begin on March 2. Here is a list of advanced voting dates and times from the county Board of Registration and Elections:

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