Sheriff candidate – Tony Belcher

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(Candidates responses are being printed exactly as they were submitted to the Enterprise.)

Full name: Tony Allen Belcher
Age: 61 years old
Campaign Website: Facebook - Tony Belcher for Sheriff
Campaign email: belcherforsheriff@gmail.com

Educational background:
High School and Department of Criminal Justice Training

Work experience:
14 years MCSO / 2 years Lebanon PD / 2 years Bradfordsville PD

Family information:
Married to Palena Boyd Belcher / One son / 4 step children

Why are you running for sheriff?
Marion County is my home, it is where I raised my family and now they are raising their families here too. The climate of Marion County has changed over the past several years. We have seen an INCREASE in crime, drug abuse, and drug related deaths.
Unfortunately there has been a DECREASE in proactive policing at the Marion County Sheriff's Office, little to no education programs for the youth of the county, and zero measureable community outreach programs all under the leadership of the current Sheriff.
The message is clear and is being echoed by the citizens of this community, we want Marion County to shine as a safe inviting rural community filled with great people. That message has fallen on deaf ears of the Sheriff.
I have laid out a multi-prong initiative on my campaign Facebook page
@TonyBelcherforSheriff, which addresses and corrects the deficiencies of the Marion County Sheriff's Office. We need proactive policing to prevent and deter crime. We must support the rehabilitation programs spearheaded by the local and state government agencies helping the people of this county with substance abuse addictions. We must have continual education programs in ALL Marion County Schools by implementing a School Resource Officer to the schools in the county.
I'm not running for political gain, popularity, or monetary reason. I am running because people in this county have pleaded with tears in their eyes for change. Crimes are not being solved. Crimes are not being prevented. Young lives are being destroyed by addiction. I've been told by many that they have had enough of the sheriff's lackadaisical leadership. Nothing has changed, it has only gotten worse. And they are right and their concerns are backed up by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting and the Kentucky State Police annual crime report statistics.
As a deputy I have been restricted from making long lasting positive changes. Prior to the current Sheriff's tenure I was proactive, solved cases, deterred crime, engaged with the community at county wide events, and truly did what was right. For the past 8 years I have been purposely kept out of the public eye by the current administration from fear that I may one day campaign for the Office of the Marion County Sheriff. Well that day is here and I'm taking a stand for Marion County.

If elected, what will be your priorities in office?
The first priority is to correct the multiple "accounting errors" that occur year after year with the Marion County Sheriff's Office financial filing documents. The same county fmancial accounts that our current Sheriff fails to oversee and allow transactions to be calculated incorrectly. There are too many intentional or unintentional discrepancies in the department financial accounting records. The tax payers of this county deserve accurate accounting practices. If we have to provide training to the staff we will. If we need new practices or new job responsibilities I will make the corrections to insure
precise reporting.
Third, as an elected official, transparency is not only key but it is required. We must build partnerships with our community member, business leaders, citizens, and reach out to other communities to help achieve our mutual goals together. I would like to implement a "one stop shop" interactive website for the sheriff's department. This website would be informative on the day to day operations of the agency. Provide taxpayers real-time access to view and/or pay their property taxes. Open a new form of communication for faster access to the deputies for civil court process, and to implement a "TIP LINE" for crime reporting.
Second, the deputies and staff of the Marion County Sheriff's Office are an exceptional group. However, I will challenge them every day to strive for their personal best, professional best and to represent the office with dignity and respect for what WE represent. As your Sheriff we will NO LONGER BE A REACTIVE call for service agency. WE WILL BE PROACTIVE again in criminal investigations, community engagement, and community partnerships. Positive customer service will be paramount with ALL staff of the Marion County Sheriff s Office. Everyone will be treated with respect and dignity in our office, the courthouse, or out in the field interacting with the deputies. The Marion County Sheriff's Office will be firm but we will operate with compassion once again.
As your Sheriff I will disclose all applicable financial document to include budgeting items, accounts payable, accounts receivable, asset forfeiture accounts, tax accounts, etc. via the interactive website. And finally as your civil servant I must show a measureable success. This will be documented and released by an annual crime statistics report released by the Marion County Sheriff's Office in conjunction with KSP and the FBI.

What do you believe will be the most important issue facing the sheriff's
department in the next four years? What can you do as the Sheriff to address these issues?
I have spoken with many law enforcement groups over the past few years about future trends in crime and policing. What is interesting is at all levels of the government we cannot put our thumb on tomorrow's issues. This is why it's key that someone like myself who understands and will apply the concept of "target priority". The concept is made simple by identifying what investments and community buy in we can make today, will directly impact tomorrow's problem. We know our community has a serious and deadly drug abuse epidemic. More and more young people are becoming dependent, overdose deaths are increasing, employability is at an all-time low, and services are being flooded. We as a community and as an agency must provide substance abuse education in the schools. We need real rehabilitation services for substance abusers. I will continue to build working relationships with the drug court. As a law enforcement agency we will have a zero tolerance stance to individuals who deal illegal drugs in Marion County. On the back side of that we will develop, implement, and provided assistance to programs to rehabilitate sentenced and convicted individuals once released from incarceration. What we are trying to do is stop the cycle of drug abuse and criminal activity.

What are your qualifications to serve as sheriff? What knowledge and
experiences have prepared you for this position?
I began my law enforcement career with a desire to make a difference for the
community I serve. In 1999 I was hired by the Bradfordsville Police Department as its head law enforcement official serving the needs of the small rural community. While remaining strong to my ties to the community of Bradfordsville, I was selected to serve as an officer for the Lebanon Police Department in 2002. I have been instrumental in many successful drug enforcement investigation, awarded the Governor's award for actions against impaired driving, and sustained a high case clearance rate on crimes I've investigated. In 2004 I was recruited for my efforts by the late Marion County Sheriff Carroll Kirkland. Since 1999 I continue to build strong working relationships that stretch well past the boundaries of Marion County.
Being a member of the Marion County Sheriff's Office since 2004 has allowed me to gain personal knowledge and experience in the four main aspects of the sheriff department - Law Enforcement, Court Process, Tax Collection, and Court Security. I am also a small business owner and understand what it takes to run a sustaining enterprise. I operate a semi trucking company that serves the Eastern part of the United States. As a business owner I have many years' experience working as a supervisor, making key business decisions, developing budgets and being financially responsible. I am highly qualified to lead the Marion County Sheriff's Office with my many years of experience and business background. In addition, I have received the Kentucky Sheriff's Association's highest award, the Medal of Honor, for courage, bravery and decisiveness on an incident in which I was involved.
Even though I'm a lifelong Democrat I believe the Office of Sheriff cannot be defined as Republican or Democrat. I will never asked a person to vote for me because I am a Democrat. I ask for you to vote for me based on my 17 plus year commitment to keeping citizens of this county safe. There is no Democrat or Republican way to be a sheriff. The enemy is not the opposing party; the enemy is the criminal.

If elected what changes of improvement would you make in the sheriff's
office? What would you keep the same?
The agency would see some immediate internal improvements. First, every staff
member would meet monthly as a group to rebuild cohesion and to improve
communications between each section of the department. Sheriff Deputies will be
required to review monthly their open and pending criminal cases. We will no longer be an agency that write reports, puts them in a folder, and forgets about them. Every deputy will be held accountable for their investigations. We will strive to solve crimes and clear cases. The agency will implement a daily "End of Shift" report to be completed by each staff member / deputy. This is a simple email outlining what activity the deputy has been involved with for that day. This information will then be provided to all the other deputies in the form of a daily shift report. Basically the deputies need to know what is going on from previous shifts. As far as change in staffing I expect to see very little to any change.
Moving forward we will actively recruit the brightest and most talented applicants to serve as deputies, clerks, and court security officers.

What criminal activities are you most concerned about in the county. What can
be done to reduce these activities?
As stated previously Marion County has a serious drug problem. When you have a
systematic problem it naturally produces inherent issues. Most crime has a direct correlation relating back to drug addiction. As Sheriff I will build strong partnerships with the Lebanon Police Department, Kentucky State Police, and surrounding county agencies. To deter and prevent drug dealing we must all collectively work together. As an agency we will rebuild public trust of the Marion County Sheriff Department. If we receive a complaint about a crime we are going to investigate it, everything will be documented. No more referring someone to the county attorney and passing the buck. The overall goal is to reduce crime, it's a simple answer for a complex problem. But we will succeed under my leadership.

What else would you like voters to know about you?
I am a fair and impartial person both professionally and personally. I treat everyone the same no matter who you are, where you are from, or what is in your background. As proven I will always help the people of Marion County. The Marion County Sheriff's Office will have an open door policy. Anyone can walk in and speak with their Sheriff. I will never be too busy to discuss your problem or for you to just visit for a chat. I promise voters will see change!