Welden releases his list of reforms needed in the Sheriff’s Office
February 8, 2018
Southern Torch (3238 articles)
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Welden releases his list of reforms needed in the Sheriff’s Office

(Contributed Photo | Nick Welden for Sheriff)

By Staff Reports

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — Tonight, Republican candidate for DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden released a statement on what he plans to do if elected to the county’s top law enforcement office:

Welden speaking at a meeting of the DeKalb County Republican Breakfast Club in August. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

“My name is Nick Welden, and I am an average man; a man with a big dream. Since I was a child, I have dreamed that one day I could make a difference. I am running for the Office of DeKalb County Sheriff because I want to make a difference here, and I believe DeKalb County is ready for a change.

I was raised here in DeKalb County. I was not born with a silver spoon, and still don’t have one, but I was raised right. I have deep roots and a solid foundation. I graduated from Sylvania High School in 1998. In 1999, I took a job with Alabama State Parks at Desoto State Park. This is where I met my wife, the former Audra Bobo.

In 2001, I was hired by Alabama Department of Public Safety as a State Trooper. My first assignment was Cleburne, Clay, and Randolph Counties. I later worked Cherokee County before I came home to work DeKalb County. I worked in DeKalb until 2012 when I transferred to the Game and Fish Division as a Game Warden. I was assigned to Tuscaloosa County then later went to Cherokee County.  In 2015, after 15 years in state law enforcement, I walked away to start preparing to run for Sheriff. My family and I bought the Killian family farm in the Portersville community and moved back to DeKalb County. I live there with my wife and our 3 children, Cody (14), Khloe (9), and Winter (10 months). In 2016, I was appointed Chief of Police for the Town of Valley Head.

I have numerous ideas, (too numerous to mention here), and ways to make the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office more effective and work better for you, the citizen.

I will highlight some of the more important things here:

  • Protect the most important thing: our children
  • Foster a better relationship between our law enforcement and youth
  • Reform the pistol permit process. You shouldn’t have to pay for a constitutional right
  • Clean up corruption in the DeKalb County Detention Center
  • Improve different divisions in the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, such as patrol and investigations
  • Establish a county-wide drug task force
  • Address the lack of leadership under the current regime at the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office
  • Support changes to the court referral system so that a private company does not benefit.

Protecting the most important thing: Our Children. All too often our children are being consumed by what I would term a drug epidemic. If you don’t have a child that has been affected by drugs, chances are, you know someone who has. Too many parents have had to bury a child due to drug addiction. If these lowlife drug dealers don’t fear the law or going to jail, what is going to stop them from committing these crimes? We must get their attention.

We must do our part to foster a better relationship between our young people and our law enforcement: The Sheriff’s Office should be run with compassion, and with the same attitude any parent would have about keeping their own child off of drugs. Children are our future, and should not be taught to fear law enforcement, but to trust our officers. The DARE program is a great thing, but it needs to be expanded. There is no such thing as too much education for our students when it comes to drugs and the real life effects it is having on young people and their parents. Students should also be taught safe driving and the consequences of bad decisions.

When my wife had our youngest child, Winter, the nurse put an ankle bracelet on her so that it would set off an alarm if someone attempted to kidnap her from the hospital. That is the reality of the sad world in which we live. Our children are the reason why we cannot afford to have people in positions like that of Sheriff who are satisfied with simply managing crime. The office of Sheriff is a law enforcement position, not a crime management position.

Reform the pistol permit process: I hear a lot feedback from a lot of people about this. I would like to see a complete overhaul. First of all, this is our Second Amendment right. I believe that the pistol permit, the ID card itself, is a great tool for law enforcement. However, the pistol permit fund in this county should not be used or abused in order to obtain $60,000 luxury vehicles and trips to the beach on the law abiding citizen’s dime. I believe that the fee could be lowered to cover the cost of the ink and the card itself.  Above that, if possible, I would like to see money taken in through donations to go towards programs for our children. I will be open and honest when it comes to where this money goes and how it is used.

Cleaning up corruption in The DeKalb County Jail: This is probably what I get the most questions about. I am constantly hearing about drugs, sex, and rampant corruption going on within the walls of the jail. I hear about this from the families of previous and current inmates. Leadership and management have to change before these problems will be corrected. I am extremely anti-corruption. Rest assured, this will be corrected if I am elected. I am all about openness, honesty, and integrity.  I also feel that if our county jail continues to be run like a Holiday Inn rather than a detention facility, there will be no fear inside the hearts of these dope peddlers poisoning our children.

Improving different divisions within the Sheriff’s Office: With my experience, I have been blessed to have seen all aspects of law enforcement from several different positions. I have seen how different agencies handle the job. In DeKalb County, we need a different way of doing law enforcement; a way that works. First, I believe that patrol is the heart and soul of the Sheriff’s office . I believe that increasing patrol, thereby increasing visibility, is a great crime deterrent. I believe in saturation in areas of high crime, such as Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick is a drug haven right here in our great county that needs to be dealt with. I believe in numerous random checkpoints with all departments throughout the county as well as with our neighboring counties. I believe in getting involved in the Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Program. They provide federal and state funding for overtime of traffic enforcement. Again, visibility deters crime. I believe when visibility goes up in an area, crime will go down.

Establish a county-wide drug task force: We are always hearing about the amount of drugs coming into our state and county via our interstates and major highways. But, how much is being done about this? I believe we should have a special interdiction team working the interstate and major highways. Speaking of drugs, I believe we should establish a county-wide drug task force. This will be a great tool for fighting the drug epidemic and all crimes well beyond the way it is done now. I would like to work with all towns and departments in the county with this task force. Your local officers know what is going on in their community. This will keep everyone up to date on drug activity and crime in each area. It will be a win-win for law enforcement and the citizens of DeKalb County.

Support changes to the court referral system so that the public benefits, not private individuals: Currently, when our friends, family, or neighbors fall into the pit of addiction, they are put in what’s known as ‘court referral’ (also known as drug court) for drug screening. Participants must pay a fee while in the program. Court Referral is operated by a private company, and a few private citizens benefit from the large amount of revenue it generates. It’s time that this program be reformed, and this revenue be put back in the county’s budget for use. These funds should be used for programs to help keep more of our neighbors and loved ones from ever becoming addicted to start with. These funds should be used for extensive youth diversion programs and getting more of the dangerous drugs off the streets that fuel the addiction.

As YOUR sheriff, I’ll work to change this program. All too often, it’s well-meaning family members or loved ones that try to help someone by paying into this program. Court referral should be an overall solution to the problem, not a money making scheme. If I’m elected sheriff, we’ll move the drug testing to the DeKalb County Detention Center. The jail employees nurses who can conduct the testing. For those who don’t pass the screening, they’ll be booked for an extended stay. No longer will deputies have to be taken off the road to search for someone who failed a drug screening. I can’t think of a better deterrent to drug use.

Finally, I would like to address the lack of leadership under the current regime at the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office: After I left state law enforcement, I was offered and accepted a part-time Deputy Sheriff position in this county. I wanted to get an inside look at the Sheriff’s office  and the day-to-day operation. Some of what I saw, I already knew. I knew there were and are a lot of good deputies and employees there. They are hard-working, good people. However, the lack of leadership keeps them from being even better and doing an even better job. Some are afraid to do their job because of politics and because no one in leadership has their back. Some of these young employees need good mentors and examples. They currently do not have that.

Also due to poor leadership, I observed a lack of teamwork. I believe the key in all law enforcement duties is being able to join forces and the ability to work together with all other agencies. This has not been done in several years and seems to be getting worse instead of better. Good leadership can change this and make this much needed improvement for the Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement county-wide.

I have waited many years for this opportunity to run for DeKalb County Sheriff…. I have sacrificed more than most will ever know in order to pursue this dream and goal. All the ideas and plans for this office have been thought out and heavily prayed about. I am running with that goal of being able to make a difference. Until I qualified on January the 8th, I had no idea what the position of Sheriff paid.That has never been a concern of mine and never will be.

My main concern is for my family and yours. My children, family, and friends are growing up and living in this county alongside yours. I believe it is time for a change. I am willing to make that change happen if you are. The great citizens of DeKalb County deserve better!

I ask for your prayers, support, and vote on June 5, 2018 in the Republican Primary.

Remember, there is no such thing as change without a change.

Lord willing, I look forward to being your next Sheriff!

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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