GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – In 2018 Danny Rogers pulled an astounding electoral upset, ousting powerful Republican Sheriff BJ Barnes in Guilford County.
Rogers, a Democrat, had an extensive background in law enforcement, but Barnes had been sheriff for nearly 25 years. Rogers won by about 10,000 votes.
He then almost immediately shook up the staff, firing many loyal to Barnes and setting out to put his stamp on an office of more than 600 people.
During his tenure, Rogers has faced the same issues that many of his peers have faced: higher crime rates during and after the pandemic and a less trustful public in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a policeman in Minneapolis and volatile other officer-involved shootings.
Now, though, Rogers must do what Barnes had done so successfully since 1994: get the voters to return him to office.
Only Rogers is facing a primary race for his nomination, with two Democrats challenging him. Early voting starts on April 28, and the winner – assuming one man gets 30% plus one vote and avoids a run-off – will move on to face one of six Republicans on Nov. 8.
To introduce all nine candidates to you, we are handling each party separately. So meet the Democrats (in alphabetical order) who want to be the next sheriff of Guilford County:
- Juan Monjaras is an active officer who has worked for both the sheriff’s office and the Greensboro Police Department.
- TJ Phipps is a familiar name, having served as a captain with the Greensboro PD following military service.
- Danny Rogers served in the sheriff’s office and the High Point Police Department and owned a business before his election.
We set up out to find out more about each person and why he thinks he has the skills, experience and vision to oversee the roughly $68 million budget and intricate issues of the sheriff’s office.
We asked each candidate the same four questions. Their responses are also presented in alphabetical order, lightly edited for style and structure. There is a separate presentation about the Republicans.
What in your experience makes you the best candidate for sheriff in Guilford County?
JUAN MONJARAS: I believe I am the best candidate for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office based on the fact that I know my community, which means I can better serve and protect the people of Guilford County. I have gained 11 years of law enforcement experience working with the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and Greensboro Police Department.
TJ PHIPPS: I am the best candidate because I am a career law enforcement professional, former infantry commander in the U.S. Army Reserve, and dedicated public servant who possesses the knowledge, skills, abilities, training and experience necessary to lead the men and women of the sheriff’s office in continued public service to all the citizens of Guilford County. I am a retired captain from the Greensboro Police Department with 28.5 years of law enforcement experience. Moreover, I am a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy (FBI NA) – 237th Session, Quantico, Va. (University of Virginia); Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP) – Session 54 (Boston University); 112th Administrative Officers Course (AOC), Southern Police Institute (SPI), Justice Administration (University of Louisville); Certified assessor, Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA).
DANNY ROGERS: I feel that being the sheriff of Guilford County for the past 3.5 years I have obtained a substantial amount of knowledge in the area of leadership and built community trust by engaging with citizens of all ethnicities. I have and will continue my training with the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, Major County Sheriff’s Association, North State Association as well as the National Sheriff’s Association to stay abreast of all updates and changes within Law Enforcement and the legislature.
Why do you think there is a primary when there is an incumbent member of your party?
JUAN MONJARAS: I believe there is a primary because it’s part of our democratic system. It gives the people the right to elect a new candidate if they feel that the incumbent has not done is job well.
TJ PHIPPS: I think there is a primary because people want to have a choice when they are not satisfied with the job performance of the incumbent. I am running for sheriff because I feel obligated to offer qualified professional leadership to the office, in service to the people.
DANNY ROGERS: I feel that is necessary to have a primary in order to give the citizens the chance to select the candidate that they feel is more suited for the position regardless of their differences and stances.
What are 3 keys to lowering the crime rate in Guilford County?
- Form a crime prevention task force.
- Create a youth gang prevention program.
- Work together will all law enforcement agencies, DA’s office, city council men and women and office of the mayor, to implement crime-reduction policies.
- County-wide collaboration focused on solving problems associated with root causes of crime.
- Pivot agency to an evidence-based, prevention-focused, problem-solving orientation.
- Develop a plan and strategy for repeat offenders who are responsible for most of the crime.
- Continue to encourage community involvement.
- Continue to enhance the existing programs that we currently have in place through education and mentoring, i.e. Street Team, youth programs such as the YMCA Girls and Boys club, BOTSO, Jr. Deputy Program, Youth Explorer Program, Youth Academy.
- Continue to provide resources for those suffering from opioid addiction and mental health issues.
How would you make the sheriff’s office more transparent and accountable to the public?
JUAN MONJARAS: As sheriff, I will have an open-door policy and employ individuals who follow and meet all policy and procedures within the department. In cases where one of my deputies has used deadly force while on the job, a press conference will be issued as soon as all facts are known. This will be done to show transparency and accountability.
TJ PHIPPS: In several instances, when a death has occurred within the jails in Guilford County, there has been a delay in notification to the public and lack of clarity surrounding the circumstances. That lack of transparency and accountability erodes public trust in the agency and questions its leadership. All custodial deaths inside the detention facilities should be investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation, parallel to but separate from the internal investigation within the agency. An after-action review and report including recommended changes to policies, procedures, and protocols will also be required. These are a few critical areas that would be handled differently under my administration. Placing emphasis on the agency creating a diversified workforce reflective of the community it serves, providing implicit and explicit bias awareness training, and establishing accountability of personnel to one another and the public, will be prioritized. Under my administration Internal Affairs will be renamed to Internal accountability. I also believe body-worn camera footage should be more easily accessible to the public and when it cannot a reason given as to why.
DANNY ROGERS: Continue on the path that we have implemented in the past 3.5 years, which allows the citizens of Guilford County to be in a partnership with the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office as we continue to promote inclusiveness and transparency.