Sheriff candidate Caldwell focused on community, resources

tgrubb@newsobserver.comJuly 9, 2014 

  • Runoff details

    The Orange County Board of Elections is holding two primary runoff races July 15:

    Sheriff: Democratic candidates Charles Blackwood and David Caldwell are vying to replace retiring Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass. This election is only open to Democratic voters and unaffiliated voters who cast Democratic ballots in the May 6 primary.

    U.S. House District 6: Voting is open to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters who cast Republican ballots in the May 6 primary. District 6 includes the Caldwell, Cameron Park, Cedar Grove, Efland, Eno, St. Mary’s and Tolars precincts.

    Voters who cast Libertarian or non-partisan ballots in the May 6 primary are not eligible to vote in the July 15 runoff.

    The runoff election will be held from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. July 15. Early voting also is available at the Board of Elections office, 208 S. Cameron St. in Hillsborough. Voters can cast an early-voting ballot from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

  • David Caldwell Jr.

    Age: 61

    Address: 8108 Rogers Road, Chapel Hill



    Family: Married to Rosie Caldwell, five children and 10 grandchildren

    Education: Graduated from Chapel Hill High School and N.C. Central University. Received N.C. Law Enforcement Training Certificate; criminal justice degress from Mt. Olive College

    Work experience: Carrboro Police Department, U.S. Army Military Police Corps, worked as a bodyguard in Germany for high-ranking generals, served in West Indies during the invasion of Grenada, drill instructor with Army Reserves

    Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy since 1988, retiring after two decades and achieving the rank of lieutenant in Patrol Division, Senior Field Training Officer and SWAT team member. Earned a second, criminal justice degree from Mt. Olive College before working as an environmental justice organizer.

    Endorsements: Rev. Robert Campbell, Mr. Fred Battle, Mark Dorosin, Sterling Holt, Bruce Irving, The Hank Anderson Breakfast Club, Virginia Leslie, Nate Davis, Al McSurley, Danny Caldwell, Larry Caldwell, Darryl Caldwell, Paul Caldwell, John Davis, Alice Holley, Willie McIver, Wesley Johnson, Robert Little, Dr. Steve Wing, Dr. Chris Heaney.

    Campaign statement: It is the duty of every citizen, public agency and organization to strive to improve the quality of life for each individual for whom they are responsible. No single person or group should suffer at the expense of others so that every citizen has equal access to information, options and opportunities for their benefit and success. We can’t accomplish this objective if we aren’t able to communicate with each other or understand more deeply the diverse makeup of the community in which we live.

    If elected, I will make sure that enforcement of the law is administered equally and fairly, and most of all, that it is understood I would emphasize community outreach and a more aggressive recruitment of minorities to reflect and work within the diverse nature of our community. I would seek to have a community that is better educated in legal policy and procedures to help all citizens get help when needed.

    This is the first step in resolving the cycle of misunderstanding and unfair treatment. Realizing this mission creates a much stronger, close-knit, law-abiding community where everyone shares success.

    My life is here in this area, and I come from a family that has long served Orange County. I am running for sheriff because I care about what happens in my community, and I feel I have a great deal to bring to the office from all my years of education, travel and experience working with diverse groups and situations.

— The Orange County Sheriff’s Office could benefit from closer community ties and better use of existing resources, sheriff candidate David Caldwell Jr. says.

Caldwell and Charles Blackwood are running in Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff to replace retiring Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass. Pendergrass has been the county’s sheriff since 1982.

While Blackwood beat five other candidates to win the May 6 primary, he got less than 40 percent of the vote and only 58 votes more than Caldwell. State law allowed Caldwell to seek a runoff, and with no Republican candidates, the winner this time will be unopposed in November.

Caldwell, 61, is an environmental justice organizer who retired after two decades with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

He ran his campaign on $4,623 raised in the first three months of this year, including more than $3,500 that he and his wife contributed, elections office reports show. He spent $3,580, reports show.

Caldwell said he won’t make big changes if elected, but he will evaluate the department’s personnel and start using reserve deputies to expand its coverage and help full-time deputies get time off. Most reserve deputies are retired with years of experience, he said, and could take on additional duties to meet training requirements and stay abreast of new tools and techniques.

“You have some, they may not be able to work the roads, but they can work the courthouse or they can work the jail or even in the office,” Caldwell said. “You have 20, 30 years of experience and knowledge that sometimes is not being utilized.”

Training is important for safety and liability reasons, he said, but it also helps deputies make better decisions. Regular cross training would improve the agency’s effectiveness and give them a break from the routine, he said.

As director of the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association, Caldwell said he learned how people who play together and connect on a personal level can bridge their differences. He also learned how to do more with less by combining resources with other agencies, he said.

The Sheriff’s Office could benefit from more Asian and Hispanic deputies, he said. Diversity is important, but so is timing, he said. Most people are more comfortable talking to someone who looks like them, but it’s doesn’t help if they only see deputies when someone’s being arrested, he said.

Deputies can make connections by stopping at the local store to get a drink or meeting people at community events, he said. Understanding why somebody commits a crime – whether to buy drugs or to feed their family – can build trust and maybe help someone in trouble, he said.

“We’ve got to take these blinders off, we’ve got to get outside the box, and we’ve got to work as a group,” he said. “I’m not saying we’re going to let the dope pushers and the rest of these guys (go). The law is still going to be enforced in Orange County, but we’ve got to do more.”

It all starts with young people, Caldwell said.

Parents should be involved early and held accountable if the behavior continues, he said. Church congregations can be trained to recognize signs of trouble, such as gangs and drugs, and how to protect their families, he said. Everyone can help identify children in crisis, he said.

Deputies can connect with young people through the schools, in the neighborhoods and by reviving the Explorers program, Caldwell said. The program teaches teens about law enforcement, develops leadership skills and self-confidence, and gets them involved in their community.

“We need to sit down one-on-one and say, look this is what’s going to happen,” he said. “Let’s find some alternatives.”

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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