|EDITORS’ NOTE: James Stevens provided no biographical information to The Spinal Column Newsweekly.|
Michael Bouchard and James Stevens are competing in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 Republican primary election for Oakland County sheriff. The winner will face the Democratic candidate in the Nov. 6 general election. The county sheriff serves four-year terms and is currently paid $138,999 annually.
The following are questions we posed to Stevens, and his responses to those questions.
BUDGET: The Sheriff’s Department has, like other county entities, felt the economic blow in the form of budget cuts. What changes in department budgeting priorities or processes do you advocate to deal with budget challenges?
STEVENS: This is (a) tough economic time. In the past, governments spent money like drunken sailors. I plan to cut costs and replace older vehicles with high fuel ratings to save tax dollars. (To give) incentives to our deputies, (they) will be paid bonuses from my own personal fund.
JAIL OVERCROWDING: The Oakland County Jail had a formal jail overcrowding emergency, its first in five years, prompting the early release of hundreds of non-violent inmates earlier this year. Officials pointed to a reconfigured work release program due to a budget cut as the cause of that emergency. What more can or should the Sheriff’s Department do to stave off future jail overcrowding emergencies? Do you believe Oakland County needs a larger or new jail? Why or why not?
STEVENS: This will no longer be an issue. I plan to open a Boot Camp with my own funds and inmates are going to perform work details. During the winter they will be shoveling sidewalks and I will pay for the shovels from my own pay.
Many crimes cost taxpayers money. Shoplifting is a large issue which makes prices of goods cost us more. The current fine is just another fine in payment, which causes the same people to just steal more to pay the fines, but my plan of a Boot Camp (would call for criminals) breaking concrete during the summer and shoveling snow in the winter for just a few (of the) tasks that they would perform.
After one stay at (my Boot) Camp, I don’t think anyone would want to revisit (it). The (Boot) Camp will cost taxpayers no money.
CONTRACTED SERVICES: The department is contracted by Commerce and Highland townships — among others — to provide police services. Please tell us why you do or don’t believe Commerce and Highland have enough deputies to safely and adequately patrol and serve those communities. What changes, if any, are necessary in the department’s contracts with individual municipalities, or the services that are provided?
STEVENS: I need to review the areas of crime in these communities to best serve the citizens and look at ways to save taxpayers’ money and respond quickly when needed.
MARINE DIVISION: The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department Marine Division provides educational, outreach, and law enforcement services on many of the county’s inland lakes during a sizable portion of the year, and the division’s Dive Team is called upon throughout the year for assistance. Please explain why you do or don’t believe the Marine Division is adequately staffed and equipped to serve the county. If you believe the division is in need of more staff or equipment, please be specific about what additions are necessary and how you would pay for them.
STEVENS: During the holidays, many families are enjoying our local lakes, which is peak season for boats on the water and is important to maintain safety there. (During) non-peak times, (deputies) need to be deployed fighting crime elsewhere.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for county law enforcement, and how do you propose to address them?
STEVENS: No. 1, let’s get tough on crime and drugs.
No. 2, I plan to start a Boot Camp with my own money, not taxpayers’ money.
No. 3, More patrols in the neighborhoods
No. 4, a plan to get guns off the streets and a new crime hotline.
No. 5, reward deputies (for) catching the criminals. (There will be) bonuses to be paid out from (my) personal fund, and not the taxpayers’.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
EDITORS’ NOTE: Stevens did not provide an answer to this question.