Charles Blackwood began his career with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in 1980 and has led the agency since 2014. He’s also a member of the 15B Judicial District’s Racial Justice Task Force and a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Like other law enforcement leaders in the Triangle since the 2016 election, he’s assured the community that his agency would not help ICE implement President Trump’s efforts to deport more people. Unlike other law enforcement leaders, however, Blackwood put it into policy. Since late 2014, his office has declined to hold people in custody at the request of ICE unless ICE submits a judicial warrant. Under his leadership, the OCSO also works closely with El Centro Hispano.
Immigration enforcement is far from the only issue relevant to in this election, but the sheriff’s stance seems particularly germane given ICE raids in Orange County just last week.
Blackwood also oversaw the creation of a program called Foundations for Hope, designed to let family members of people with mental health conditions or cognitive disability convey that vital information to the sheriff’s office. He also wants to establish a diversion center where people charged with low-level crimes could be referred to community support services rather than be locked up in jail.
Blackwood’s challenger, Tony White, worked for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for nineteen years before retiring as an investigator in 2016. He wants to make internal changes at the agency to ensure that taxpayer money is spent wisely and all employees are giving an opportunity for advancement. He’d also like to expand the use of citations over arrest and believes the public should have access to some police body-camera footage, which we wholeheartedly endorse.
While we appreciate White’s commitment to a more transparent sheriff’s office and measures to reduce the jail population, we do not believe he is as qualified as the incumbent. We endorse Blackwood.