Kenneth Williamson believes he has a unique perspective on the Chatham County Sheriff’s race. He hasn’t made his career in law enforcement, but says he put in hundreds of hours of training to be a reserve deputy. ” A reserve deputy does everything that a regular deputy does but he does it for free,” he told me.
He spent ten years working as a reserve deputy. “Well, I did it to better my community to make people safer and make my family safer, he said.
In his “real” career, he spent 30 years in financing. “I think I’ll be a better sheriff than the other four especially with my financing experience,’ he said. “The sheriff department basically tells Chatham County taxpayers what they have to pay. Just in the last four years the budget’s gone from $35 million to $55 million. That’s ridiculous, there’s a lot of ways to cut costs.
He says the other candidates have talked mostly about how to operate the jail, but he believes the sheriff’s department should do more. “The sheriff is the top law enforcement agency person in the county, he ought to be doing policing,” says Williamson.
He seems pretty passionate about that saying that in larger cities like Jacksonville for example, it’s the “sheriff’s department’ that leads the way in area law enforcement. He says locally, every city has a police chief and other personnel. “But I believe it’s the sheriff that should be providing the lead on policing and if the people don’t like it, the sheriff comes up for election every four years,” Williamson said. “A police chief is not accountable to voters, only to a small group of people on the city council.”
And that brings us to the police merger between Chatham County and the city of Savannah, which now appears to be a done deal because of a vote taken today by the Chatham County Commissioners.
Kenneth Williamson, Chatham Co. Sheriff Candidate, “And I’ve knocked on a lot of doors and talked to a lot of people in the unincorporated areas, and they’re getting the small end of the stick.”
In terms of issues at the Chatham County jail, i.e. inmate deaths and lawsuits he said “Nobody should ever die in jail custody.”
Williamson believes one solution starts with more training “They’ve got a lot of problems and it’s a lack of training and they dropped their accreditation and they need to get that back. That’s very important. I think when you’re over other people’s lives you can;t get enough training,” he told us.
Williamson acknowledged that a private contract medical company provides the treatment in the jail but says if sheriff, he would like the county to take back control of the medical care. If not he said he would have two doctors on staff “to at least make sure the private company is doing things the right way.”
He believes there needs to be more outreach from the sheriff and employees and more programs for inmates. “They all need to be treated humanely, they’re somebody’s son, somebody’s daughter, you know, somebody’s daughter,” says Williamson. “And like I said anybody who comes into my jail, if I’m the Sheriff, they will go out a better person than when they came in .”