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.

18 comments

  • Thomas Christopher

    Hmmm, is that why Cunningham QUIT after only five years as Winston-Salem police chief? Not only did Schatzman not give up as Cunningham did when times got tough, but he has evidently earned the confidence of the people by being re-elected numerous times. Sorry, Mr. Cunningham, but the public doesn’t have that same respect for quitters.

    • J

      In North Carolina, Chiefs of Police collect a pension after being vested for 5 years with an agency. It is common practice for them to work for a department, gain their pension, and then move on to a new one. I don’t know anything about Cunningham, but this is everywhere through out the state.

  • elizabethstahnke

    Cunningham came to the awesome city of Kernersville, thank you. I don’t see that as quitting

  • Rick Yokeley

    Mr. Cunningham is merely endorsing the best qualified candidate for the next sheriff of Forsyth County, Dave Griffith. Scott Cunningham is not running for office so save your hating for another day.

    • Clay Beeson

      Good response my friend. Glad we can still have fun, say what we feel and see eye to eye on most things. You are still one of my best friends in life. God Bless.

  • Mark Stabler

    Admit it or not, Cunningham did not voluntarily leave his position as Chief of Police in Winston Salem. It was obviously an effort of his and others in City government to combine the WSPD and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office into one law enforcement agency. No one can serve as the head of a law enforcement agency for a number of years without making enemies. That goes for Cunningham, Schatzman, the current Winston Salem Police Chief Roundtree and previous WSPD Chief Norris who is presently serving as Chief at WSSU drawing over $100,000 in salary and over $100,000 in retirement from her former job as chief of WSPD. Politics at its best..

  • mimilll

    The citizens of FORSYTH COUNTY have NO IDEA JUST HOW MUCH CORRUPTION AND COVER UP THERE IS HERE, UNLESS you have had an UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCE with the law enforcement, you have NO IDEA…..apparently law enforcement can *PICK AND CHOOSE* citizens who can have *U.S. Constitutional Rights*..it seems that law enforcement can decide to push their way into a 3rd party residence without permission from the homeowner and WITHOUT OBTAINING A SEARCH WARRANT as well. Mr. Schatzman indicates he is in the position to *KEEP THE COMMUNITY SAFE*…
    There seems to be a LACK OF TRAINING, COMMUNICATION and INTERPRETATION of the laws in both Kernersville Police Department and Forsyth County Sheriff Department as well. Seems like IF these people are concerned about citizens, then all of them would do their jobs in a PROFESSIONAL manner, following the rights that we all are *SUPPOSE* to have as AMERICAN Citizens.

    IT IS INDEED TIME FOR CHANGE…..I URGE everyone to get out and VOTE……Let’s give Dave Griffith a chance.

  • Lori

    It is extremely unprofessional for any Chief of Police to publicly throw mud and attack another law enforcement official. The FCSO is more professional today than it ever has been. Some people will say or do anything to get what they want.

  • mimilll

    Truth should be TOLD….no matter what. IF someone makes an error, then they should be HELD ACCOUNTABLE AND RESPONSIBLE for it. There are TOO MANY SECRETS. The truth is hidden from the public, so most people have NO CLUE what actually goes on.

  • mimilll

    I guess someone did NOT like my other post….since it just DISAPPEARED. Interesting as I thought we all had *FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

  • JCwalkertonw

    I do not know why anyone should believe and listen to anything “King” Cunningham has to say. He has been police in three places in less than nine years. When he was hired by Kernersville he was trying to get the same job in Kingsport, TN. NO ONE MENTIONED THAT GRIFFITH’S SON WORKS FOR CUNNINGHAM at Kernersville Police Department. Is he going to hire his son like Ron Barker did? That’s all the county needs is more family. Who would believe someone that can’t keep a job more than five years. Read the story about Kingsport, TN below…to me he sounds like a gypsy police chief that has been promised something, like the position of chief deputy!

    http://www.timesnews.net/article/9063815/46-have-applied-to-become-kingsports-next-police-chief

    • Bruce

      Has your psychiatrist began treating your paranoid delusions? For someone with so much INFO, you don’t have a clue…

    • Bobby

      JC, Before you start assuming things and so you will know the truth Cunningham was forced out by the city council why because he backed his officers. THAT is why he left W-S.

    • Donna Barham

      JOHN COX no doubt – Take your medication and GO BACK TO BED! This race is about getting Schatzman out of office and should not turn into a pissing contest between Clif and Dave through their supporters!!! False accusations will hurt both Clif and Dave!!!! Remember that when you post your comments!!! PLEASE STAY FOCUSED!! Schatzman needs to go!!! FINAL NOTE: You really do not want any of Scott Cunningham!!!

  • Bruce

    First, since some of you cannot read, he did NOT issue an endorsement as the police chief in Kernersville BUT as a law enforcement professional. While he IS the chief in Kernersville, this happens to be HIS opinion…personally. It is simply unfortunate that deputies cannot tell us the truth for fear of losing their jobs but the truth is out there and Bill hopes you don’t find out. It IS time for a change at the FCSO. Saying the FCSO is better than it was may be true but that is similar to saying you would prefer a bull shark swim with your children as opposed to a white shark…you know, because they’re less dangerous.

  • concerned citizen

    I have an excellent idea. Vote Clifton J Kilby and leave the politicians out at FCSO. That’s the problem there now. Let’s put a real law enforcement officer in place of a politician. Schatzman, Stanley & Stanley’s lifelong partner needs to go. Remember 2010 people. Let’s bring brotherhood back to FCSO.

  • John Doe

    I agree with the concerned citizen’s statement above. My problem with Griffith is why he didn’t make it known about Schatzman when he was his right hand man? I’ve heard alot of good things about Kilby and how he supports the deputies at FCSO. I also heard that Dave’s son works with Cunningham. I’m just sick of all the politics and ready to get a man that supports law enforcement & not trying to be a politician. My vote is for Kilby.

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