JEFFERSON-The Jefferson Post recently obtained credentials and background information for newly appointed Sheriff Terry Buchanan.
He presented this information to the Ashe County Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners interviewed three candidates for the position of sheriff during closed session Tuesday morning before voting 3-2 to appoint Buchanan over Bucky Absher, who was considered by many in the law enforcement community as the top prospect for the job.
Buchanan presented a seven-page document entitled, “Ashe County Sheriff Platform 2016-18,” that included his bio and platform for the job. He also included a list of priorities for the sheriff’s office for his first six months on the job.
He underlined “Conservative Candidate for Sheriff,” near the top of his platform that he presented to commissioners.
According to the bio he presented, Buchanan is an Avery County native, who has a 34-year career working in the law enforcement, serving in the military and supporting Operation Enduring Freedom initiatives for the U.S. Government as a defense contractor. He graduated from Liberty University. He’s also a graduate of the Terrorism and National Security Management certificate program. Buchanan served in the U.S. Armed forces in the First Armored Division during the Cold War. His career as a police officer began in the late ’80s.
Buchanan also included his experience with Blackwater USA.
Buchanan addressed the need for accessibility in the sheriff’s office.
“Accessibility means availability,” he wrote. “I will serve the people of Ashe County by making myself available to all citizens and listening to what they have to say. I will maintain a personal cell phone, which will be listed on the sheriff’s web page. This number will be listed on my business cards and all other official communications and sheriff’s office stationary. Open and clear communications will be a priority of my administration.”
He also addressed visibility.
“Accessibility also means that deputies are more visible and known by the people who they serve. Deputies will be involved at a more personal level in the neighborhoods, businesses, schools and any other venue where they can have positive contacts with the public.”
Buchanan also stressed that working with other local departments is crucial to public safety.
“The citizens depend on all county emergency services working together to support all citizens of Ashe County. Will work to establish a quarterly training authority were we all work together in a training environment. This will ensure that in high stress emergency situations such as an, “Active Shooter,” every responding person from their organization understand exactly how to fulfill their role as part of this team,” Buchanan wrote.
In his written platform, he also made clear who holds power over the office of sheriff.
“Both the law and court cases make clear that a county manager has no power over a sheriff unless a specific law or court ruling grants it. The sheriff is elected by the county’s voters and operates independently of the county commissioners, according to county and municipal government in North Carolina, except that the commissioners receive and pass on the sheriff’s budget and appropriate funds for operating their office,” Buchanan wrote.
Buchanan was appointed by the commissioners following the retirement of former Ashe Sheriff James Williams. Those who opposed Buchanan’s appointment said the will of the people wasn’t honored. They argue commissioners should’ve appointed Absher because voters overwhelmingly approved of Williams’ administration in 2014. Absher was considered William’s right-hand man.
He also addressed what he sees as the need for balance in the sheriff’s office. He said there cannot be an “us vs. them” mentality at the sheriff’s office.
He’s also promised to start incorporating new sheriff’s satellite offices consisting of a room and desk within our counties fire departments.
“Offices will be determined at certain precincts in the county to reduce response time and to provide better community access to law enforcement,” he wrote. Buchanan also vowed to defend the U.S. Constitution and supporting “our protected right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.” He also wants to establish a Sheriff’s Chaplain program so it can be available to deputies and their families.
Within his first six months on the job, Buchanan wants to adopt a citizen’s review board to “keep law enforcement close to those we serve.”