Incumbent sheriff, former deputy go head to head for office
By BETH ALSTON
AMERICUS — The race for the office of Sumter County Sheriff has two candidates, both qualifying as Republicans: incumbent Pete Smith and Phillip Daniel, a former deputy sheriff. The Times-Recorder emailed questionnaires to each candidate containing the same questions. Each of the sheriff’s candidates was also asked an additional question.
Pete Smith was born and raised in Americus and Sumter County. He is a graduate of Americus High School, South Georgia College and Georgia Southwestern College and also has undergone “multiple law enforcement training and certifications.”
When Smith was asked why he’s qualified to continue to hold this office, he said, “ I have always had a passion for serving the public and my 44 year career in law enforcement is a direct reflection. I am experienced and knowledgeable with all aspects of the law and will be honest, fair and efficient as well as dedicated to the citizens of Sumter County.”
When asked who ordered the patrol car last year, the sheriff failed to answer this question. The car was a controversy with the Sumter County Board of Commissioners in the fall of 2015. Who actually ordered the car was never revealed to the Americus Times-Recorder.
Phillip Daniel of Americus is a 1980 graduate of Americus High School, and joined the U.S. Navy in 1981, where he served for four years. He has over 1,600 hours in various law enforcement training and is a Certified Emergency Manager.
Daniel started with the Sheriff’s Office in 1988, as a jailer and then was a patrol deputy, K-9 officer, and drug investigator, supervisor over records and emergency communications and deputy director of Sumter County Emergency Management. He has written numerous grants and is responsible for the grant which allowed the County to purchase the outdoor warning sirens and safety shelters. He obtained the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. He has over 27 years with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and worked under three different sheriffs before retiring in February 2016.
Of problems in the sheriff’s office. Daniel said, “The spending of taxpayer’s money needs to be spent more efficiently; honesty, fairness and trust needs to be brought back to the office of the Sheriff. The morale needs to change among the employees and I will make sure we have a harassment-free workplace.”
As for why he is qualified to hold this office, Daniel said, “When elected Sheriff I will be fair and honest and I will make sure the Sheriff’s budget is spent efficiently unlike now. If this were not true then there would not be a Forensic Audit recommended by the head of the GBI going on at this time on the Sheriff’s Office. I will look at the different programs that can be implemented in the schools and update the few that are there already.
“When elected Sheriff you will see more officer presence in the high crime areas, you will see a multi-county drug and gang unit started to fight the drug and crime problems that has risen throughout our community. My office will be more involved with the neighborhood watch program and we will be more proactive and not reactive. I will make sure all laws are applied fairly and equally and I will serve all warrants that come to the Sheriff’s office and not just certain ones as I am sworn and elected to do. I will be available 24-7 365 days a year and I will know what goes on at my office especially who is ordering vehicles. I will work with the Board of Commissioners and all other County and City Departments … This is about making a difference in our community and reducing the crime rate so that you can take the walks around your neighborhoods or around town anytime you desire. This is about looking after our kids, grandkids and the elderly. I worked the flood of 1994 and the tornado of 2007. As the Deputy Director of Sumter County Emergency Management, I worked closely with GEMA, FEMA and Homeland Security to make sure that this community received what was needed to rebuild. I was the only Certified Emergency Manager during Sheriff Smith’s first nine years before he was removed as Sumter County Emergency Management Director. If you want someone, who will hold their officers to a higher standard who treats everyone with respect and is fair and honest and someone who will be transparent in spending taxpayer’s money and fight crime then vote Phillip Daniel for Sheriff. The time is now to develop a level of service second to none.”
When asked one specific question, about the allegations of his approving unworked overtime for an employee, Daniel said, “In reference to the accusations of signing off for overtime on an employee that did not work is false. The Sheriff stated that they believe I had no knowledge that it was taking place when I signed the timesheets. This is illegal and I would never do this. I did an open record request for that investigation and the evidence I received does not prove that it happened intentionally or at all. The Sheriff said numerous times during the meeting that he knows I had no idea that this was going on.”