New Hanover sheriff candidates discuss transparency, prison population and more in forum

The New Hanover County NAACP hosted a forum Wednesday night for sheriff candidates to share their thoughts on important issues.
Ed McMahon and Kelvin Hargrove at a New Hanover County Sheriff’s Candidate Forum

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County NAACP hosted a forum Wednesday night for sheriff candidates to share their thoughts on important issues.

There are three candidates for the position of sheriff. Two Democrats Kelvin Hargrove and incumbent Ed McMahon and a Republican Matt Rhodes. The NAACP is a nonpartisan organization and all candidates were invited, but only Hargrove and McMahon participated.

One of the questions posed to the candidates concerned the number of people in prison. Would you support issuing citations rather than arresting individuals for minor offenses to prevent more people from going to jail before trial?

“By signing a summons, a person agrees to appear in court. I think it’s so important. We need to choose intentionally when to issue these citations and when to make an arrest because we can rebuild trust and build relationships,” Hargrove said.

“Over the past five years we have and I have worked very hard to have our deputies give citations rather than arrests whenever possible. That is, if the person is not danger or violent crime, we will issue citations,” McMahon said.

Transparency is a word that comes up often and how it can be improved at the sheriff’s office. Both candidates agreed that good things are happening now, but there is always room for improvement.

“I’m confident the sheriff’s office has the confidence of the community, the majority of the community,” McMahon said. “We organize the Citizen’s Academy twice a year. It’s 11 weeks, every Tuesday evening from 6 to 9 p.m., where we invite citizens to see and be part of the Sheriff’s Office.

“A lot of people don’t know that some of the things that affect them are the laws that they don’t understand and we need to have more educational sessions with our community to let them know what some of those laws are and what they mean. for their community,” Hargrove said.

On the subject of transparency, the use of force was also mentioned. When candidates were asked if they would release information to families and communities seeking answers when people are injured or killed during an interaction with police, their responses were similar.

“With the release of information about criminal cases that may still be open, it’s probably very difficult to release some information,” Hargrove said. “Any information that the law allows us to disclose will certainly be disclosed. We don’t want to get into a bind and release more information than the law allows us to.

“If a deputy does something that could be considered criminal and every time we use deadly force, the Bureau of State Investigation is called in,” McMahon said. “We have body worn cameras, I was one of the first to launch body worn cameras, the cameras are there. All the information that I am allowed to give to families, I always give, I have always been like that, I will continue to be like that.

To watch the forum in its entirety, go here.