Kernersville police chief calls out Forsyth Co. sheriff in letter

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — A local police chief has written an endorsement letter that calls Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman “the most difficult and least productive” sheriff to work with.

The letter, written by Kernersville Police Chief Scott Cunningham, endorses candidate Dave Griffith for Forsyth County sheriff. Cunningham is also the former chief of the Winston-Salem Police Department.

“I have known about the deficiencies in the Sheriff’s Office. I’ve tried to get people to understand that, and now, we’ve got another professional voice saying the same thing,” said Griffith.

Griffith said Cunningham was speaking as a concerned citizen and long-time law enforcement professional when he wrote, “During my tenure as a police officer who worked his way up the ranks to chief, I have had the pleasure to work directly with several different sheriffs in three different counties. Unfortunately, working with the current sheriff of Forsyth County has been the most difficult and least productive.”

In the letter posted on Griffith’s campaign web site, Cunningham accuses Sheriff Schatzman of rejecting all efforts “to build relationships, partnerships, and programs that would improve community safety and be more fiscally prudent with taxpayer funds.”

“Some examples include an effort to keep better track of sexual predators wherein the sheriff refused to allow us and others to help him keep up-to-date information on sexual predators. Another effort involved improving the safety of children in schools when the sheriff pulled funding for enhanced security equipment. To this day, he has refused to partner with federal agencies to improve community safety. He also charges the City of Winston-Salem and Town of Kernersville to process their own prisoners at the county detention center even though all county residents pay him taxes to perform this responsibility,” wrote Cunningham.

However, Schatzman says Cunningham’s endorsement is politically motivated.

“Individuals are motivated to make endorsements for any number of personal or political reasons. And make no mistake, this endorsement is politically motivated,” said Schatzman in a statement sent to FOX8. “However, we have a much different recollection of what my opponent has posted on his website and the factual inaccuracies regarding our cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.”

“It has been and continues to be our policy to cooperate with, and support the public safety efforts, of all law enforcement agencies as we are permitted to do within established state or federal regulatory provisions and statutory requirements,” said Schatzman.

Schatzman says protecting the residents of Forsyth County is, and always has been, his first priority.

Three candidates are runing for Forsyth County sheriff. The third candidate is Clifton Kilby. The primary election will be held on May 6.

Letter by Kernersville Police Chief Scott Cunningham:

As a police professional with over 34 years of experience, including 5 years as Chief of the Winston-Salem Police Department, I am proud to support Dave Griffith for Sheriff of Forsyth County. He offers the citizens and public safety personnel of Forsyth County legal, ethical, and professional leadership and service that is greatly needed. He has the experience to understand and lead a complex organization like the Sheriff’s Office. He also has the values, ethics, and demeanor to lead an organization of dedicated men and women as they serve the citizens in a courteous, compassionate, and professional manner.

During my tenure as a police officer who worked his way up the ranks to Chief, I have had the pleasure to work directly with several different sheriffs in three different counties. Unfortunately, working with the current Sheriff of Forsyth County has been the most difficult and least productive. Efforts have been repeatedly made to build relationships, partnerships, and programs that would improve community safety and be more fiscally prudent with taxpayer funds. All have been rejected. Some examples include an effort to keep better track of sexual predators wherein the Sheriff refused to allow us and others to help him keep up-to-date information on sexual predators. Another effort involved improving the safety of children in schools when the Sheriff pulled funding for enhanced security equipment. To this day, he has refused to partner with federal agencies to improve community safety. He also charges the City of Winston-Salem and Town of Kernersville to process their own prisoners at the county detention center even though all county residents pay him taxes to perform this responsibility.

I believe the citizens of Forsyth County deserve the best possible service from government, especially the police departments and sheriff’s office. As a professional and a citizen, I don’t believe we are getting that now. Therefore, in an effort to improve the quality of life for all public safety professionals and the citizens of Forsyth County, I am proud to support Dave Griffith for Forsyth County Sheriff. Please think about the kind of community you want to live, work, and enjoy life in. Then vote for our future and that of our children and loved ones. I believe if you look at the facts, Dave Griffith is the clear choice.

Sincerely,

Scott Cunningham, Ph.D.

Statement from Sheriff Bill Schatzman

Individuals are motivated to make endorsements for any number of personal or political reasons. And make no mistake, this endorsement is politically motivated.

However, we have a much different recollection of what my opponent has posted on his website and the factual inaccuracies regarding our cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.

It has been and continues to be our policy to cooperate with, and support the public safety efforts, of all law enforcement agencies as we are permitted to do within established state or federal regulatory provisions and statutory requirements.

Today, through a variety of initiatives, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office supports the Winston-Salem Police Department, the Kernersville Police Department, the U.S. Marshall Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI and the SBI. We also work in cooperation with the school system in our school resource officer program and the towns of Clemmons, Lewisville and Rural Hall through our highly successful community policing program.

As I said when elected in 2002, my first priority is to protect the residents of Forsyth County. That is still my first priority.

Carrying out this responsibility means that from time to time, we will have disagreements with other law enforcement agencies on the most efficient and effective way to do that.

This office has a 12 year history for proven, professional and effective law enforcement – far from where it was when I was first elected.

Keeping our community safe is what the voters of Forsyth County elected me to do, and that’s what I’ll continue to do, regardless of the politics.



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