Name as it appears on the ballot: Roy Taylor

Campaign website:

Party affiliation: Democratic 

Years lived in Wake County: Approximately 30 years

1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing the Sheriff’s Office? What are your top three priorities in addressing these issues?

  • Responding to incidents involving people in psychiatric crisis. Law enforcement officers often shoot people having a mental health crisis. I plan on requiring all deputies and detention officers to attend additional training on this topic.
  • Employee wellness programs are necessary to provide effective support to deputies and civilian staff members who have experienced trauma by equipping them with emotional survival skills and overcoming the stigma of seeking treatment.
  • Rebuilding trust with the community through open and honest communication. I intend on implementing Transformational Policing, which uses collective training of both the Sheriff’s Office staff and community members in the same classroom to focus on the historical origins of distrust that impact policing as well as the critical concepts of implicit bias, constitutional policing, procedural justice, and law enforcement reform.

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be an effective county sheriff? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

As a Chief of Police, I have implemented the community-oriented policing philosophy in each agency I led. The philosophy is a proactive, decentralized approach designed to reduce crime, disorder, and fear of crime by involving officers in the same community over the long term so that residents will grow to trust the officers and provide them information and assistance in matters of crime and community order. Community policing uses a variety of tactics ranging from park and walk or foot patrols to encourage community support for policing goals. Community policing differs from other approaches by deriving its priorities from community input. My intent is to implement Transformational Policing, which shares many of the same tenents as community policing.

3. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what in your record and experience do you believe entitles you to another term?

The current Sheriff has made many poor decisions that have endangered county residents’ lives by discontinuing the “well check program;” curtailing the use of the county’s in-door firing range, which limits public areas to use firearms safely; attempting to stop issuing pistol purchase permits and concealed carry permits in violation of North Carolina law; made terrible personnel decisions resulting in lawsuits and dangerously low staffing levels throughout the agency, and costly mistakes by not using proper contracting standards.

4. Recently, Wake County lowered the minimum bond for some offenses to reduce the number of people in county jails awaiting trial. Bond remains at $750 for those charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor. Do you agree with the bail reforms that the county implemented? Do you believe the reforms go far enough?

The issue of pretrial detention is part of a larger conversation on criminal justice reform. The policies and practices around pretrial detention have contributed to the country’s mass incarceration numbers, created a crisis for local jail management, generated unsustainable budgets, and raised important questions about race, class, and constitutional implications of incarcerating people because they cannot pay. As the next Sheriff, I will work with all stakeholders to create an equitable solution to pretrial release by exploring evidence-based practices found successful in other jurisdictions.

5. Many candidates have promised to reach out to the community to build relationships and earn/restore the public’s trust. What are some examples of outreach work you have done? 

I have been awarded regional, state, and national awards for my community policing and crime prevention programs. I am most proud of the community policing award from the National League of Municipalities that I received while serving as the Chief of Police in Norwood.

Many of the town’s citizens had a low opinion of the police department and its capabilities. I immediately began a relationship with the news media and community leaders to educate them on all of the good things the officers were doing. Shortly after that, I divided the community into patrol districts and assigned a community officer to each of them. The officers were issued pagers, and the residents of the neighborhoods were provided the pager number to their officer to use anytime for non-emergency issues. Next, public meetings were scheduled in each district to learn about problems directly from community members and develop solutions. The forged partnerships increased information that led to criminal convictions and a lower crime rate. Several programs were also implemented that increased the public’s involvement with the police department. Within the first year, the public’s perception of the police department went from one of dismay to hometown pride.   

6. Under recent reforms, the Sheriff’s office has been tasked with setting up a dashboard to show the pretrial release status of people being held in Wake county jails that law enforcement, attorneys, and other stakeholders can access. Do you think members of the public should be able to access this dashboard as well? What else, if anything, should the Sheriff’s office do to increase transparency?

Yes, I would be in favor of sharing information from the dashboard with the public.

To ensure a culture of transparency, I will make all department policies available for public review and regularly post them on the Sheriff’s Office website. Also, information about stops, summonses, arrests, reported crime, and other law enforcement data will be aggregated by demographics. If deputies are to carry out their responsibilities according to established policies, these policies must reflect community values and not lead to practices that result in disparate impacts on various segments of the community. They also need to be clearly articulated to the community and implemented transparently so that deputies will have credibility with residents. The people can have faith that their guardians always act in their best interests.

7. The Sheriff’s office has a budget of almost $102 million. What should that money go towards? Do you support shifting funds to community initiatives such as hiring social workers, crisis intervention, and de-escalation training?

The majority of the budget funds salaries, benefits, detention center operation, and other daily operating costs. I will be a good steward of the public’s money and work diligently to fund crisis intervention and de-escalation training for all uniformed personnel. I also plan to employ crisis counselors in the telecommunication center to answer mental health calls and assist deputies while responding to this type of call.

As an experienced police chief in Federal, State, Local, and private agencies, I have budget and grant management experience. I do not spend money unless there is a return on investment.

8. Multiple courts have ruled that ICE detainer requests do not meet Fourth Amendment requirements for arrest. Under what circumstances should the Sheriff’s Office honor detainer requests? Please explain your answer.

I do not intend on honoring any ICE detainer that a judicial official has not signed. I, too, believe it is a Fourth Amendment violation without a Judge’s signature.

9. Under North Carolina law, body-camera footage is not public record. Under what circumstances do you believe the public should be allowed to review body camera footage?

The Sheriff’s Office and all other law enforcement agencies in North Carolina are restricted by G.S. 132-1.4A, which requires a person to petition the law enforcement agency to release the video. Ultimately, a Judge decides to disclose or release the video. I will work with the public to request the release of videos that depict critical incidents involving the Sheriff’s Office. I am also willing to speak with legislators on amending the statute to ease the current restrictions.

10. Similarly, police officers’ and Sheriff’s deputies’ personnel files, including disciplinary records, are not public documents in North Carolina. Given that law enforcement in some cases literally has the power of life and death, do you believe it is appropriate for members of the public to know whether a law enforcement agent has been disciplined and why?

I intend to be as transparent as lawfully possible. In cases involving critical incidents where allocations of wrongdoing are made, I will release the results of criminal and Garrity investigations and explain the outcomes to any interested parties. As with the laws that restrict the release of videos, I will also have to comply with existing laws that prohibit the release of personnel records.

11. Do you support the expanded use of citations as an alternative to arrests? Under what circumstances?

Yes, my Deputies will have the autonomy to use their discretion to resolve situations with verbal warnings, written warnings, and citations. My guidance to them will be to use physical arrests only when absolutely necessary for misdemeanors. Criminal conduct that is deemed to be a felony will result in an arrest.

12. What policies would you support to reduce recidivism, particularly among youthful offenders?

The best way to help prevent a youth’s contact with the juvenile justice system is to prevent them from being involved with the system in the first place. I will make significant efforts to divert youthful offenders and other low-risk individuals from ever coming into contact with the system.

By working with the courts, district attorney’s office, schools, and other agencies, I hope to prevent most youth from ever contacting the juvenile justice system. For those who do enter the system, I believe having a validated risk assessment tool is the best way to classify them as being at low, medium objectively, or high risk to re-offend. The results should be one of the leading indicators for making supervision decisions on how best to hold these youth accountable for their actions.

13. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some points with voters.

Recruiting and retaining employees – To have good employees, the Sheriff’s Office must provide competitive salaries that match or exceed the market average. Compensation, however, means more than just salaries. Compensation packages include health insurance, retirement, leave, schedules, and equipment. We need to implement a cafeteria-style compensation package that allows individuals to tailor their salary and benefits to meet their particular needs and have paid or reasonably priced retirement health insurance for career employees. All of these programs will have legacy costs to the taxpayer. But, I believe they are vital to attracting and retaining the best employees to serve Wake County.