Caro­line deputy running for sher­iff

Times-Record - - NEWS - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record. com

DEN­TON — Steven Bid­dle, a 23-year vet­eran of the Caro­line County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, is seek­ing election to lead it, chal­leng­ing Caro­line County Sher­iff Randy Bounds in the Nov. 6 gen­eral election.

Bid­dle, a life­long res­i­dent of Greens­boro and the sher­iff’s of­fice’s most se­nior deputy, said it has al­ways been his goal to one day be sher­iff.

He is pur­su­ing that goal now in the hopes that a change of lead­er­ship can re­store the depart­ment to what he said it once was.

“We are down six or seven deputies just over the last year,” Bid­dle said. “It’s hard on the deputies who are still here. We have do some­thing to re­tain deputies.

“The pay is part of it, but it’s time for a change. Some­one needs to step up and make the depart­ment the way it used to be. It used to be the place to be, and it’s not that way any­more.”

Bid­dle, a 1986 grad­u­ate of North Caro­line High School, be­gan his law en­force­ment ca­reer in Oc­to­ber 1993 with Greens­boro’s town force.

He said he ap­proached the town’s then-po­lice chief about join­ing, and the next thing he knew, he had been sworn in and is­sued a badge, car and gun — be­fore he had even been to the po­lice academy.

“They threw me to the wolves,” Bid­dle said. “I had to learn very quickly.”

He went to the academy in Jan­uary 1994, grad­u­at­ing six months later. After an­other year with the Greens­boro depart­ment, Bid­dle was hired in 1995 by the Caro­line County Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

Bid­dle was a road deputy un­til 2002, when he be­gan a 12-year stint work­ing un­der­cover on the nar­cotics task force.

“It was wild — a dif­fer­ent world,” Bid­dle said.

Bid­dle said he loved the work, writ­ing and ex­e­cut­ing search and seizure war­rants, ar­rest­ing of­fend­ers and tes­ti­fy­ing in court as a nar­cotics ex­pert, in Caro­line and Dorch­ester coun­ties.

He then re­turned to road pa­trol un­til just re­cently, when he was re­as­signed to se­cu­rity in the Caro­line County Cir­cuit Court­house.

It felt like the right time to run for sher­iff, he said.

“I’m not a politi­cian. I’m a po­lice of­fi­cer, and I al­ways have been,” Bid­dle said. “Pol­i­tics are new to me, and I’ve learned it can be nasty at times.” Bid­dle said his fam­ily and fel­low deputies are sup­port­ive of his run for sher­iff.

“I’m a deputy, not re­tired from the state po­lice,” Bid­dle said. “Who bet­ter to run a sher­iff’s of­fice?”

Bid­dle said un­der­staffing has made the sher­iff’s of­fice a re­ac­tive po­lice force, rather than a proac­tive one.

“Right now, we just go call to call,” Bid­dle said.

He would like to form a war­rant squad, solely to serve war­rants and sum­monses, which would free up time for other deputies.

“Then those deputies can be more proac­tive, mak­ing traf­fic stops, stop­ping by schools, talk­ing to peo­ple,” Bid­dle said.

He praised the school re­source of­fi­cer pro­gram, but said more in­put on how to pro­tect schools should come from the teach­ers inside them.

“We all ne­glect to ask the teach­ers, the ones who know the kids, what do they think,” Bid­dle said.

Bid­dle said get­ting a han­dle on the opi­oid epi­demic is also a pri­or­ity.

“In my 12 years in nar­cotics, I very rarely saw heroin,” Bid­dle said. “But now it touches ev­ery­one. The ma­jor­ity of the crimes in this county are drug-re­lated.”

He said ed­u­ca­tion and treat­ment, not jail time, will do more good.

“I would work with all en­ti­ties to help ad­dicts,” Bid­dle said. “A lot of good peo­ple are af­fected. We didn’t have the sup­port (re­sources) be­fore we do now.

“If we can stop peo­ple from us­ing, it will de­crease crime. Crime won’t ever go away com­pletely, but any­thing is a help.”

Bid­dle said he would also like to ini­ti­ate more col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween town, county and state po­lice.

“Work­ing as a unit only ben­e­fits ev­ery­one,” he said.

The first step, how­ever, would be re­turn­ing the sher­iff’s of­fice to fully staffed, with the kind of pas­sion­ate deputies who in­spire oth­ers to also step up, Bid­dle said.

“It’s go­ing to be like it used to be, a lot of go-get­ters work­ing to­gether,” Bid­dle said.

DK

STEVEN BID­DLE

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