Message from the Sheriff
I am a Sheriff with a vision for your Sheriff's Office that challenges, inspires, and serves the needs of our citizens.
When I took office two and a half years ago, I saw many needs. I have focused on accountability, an increase in training, efficiency and improvement in customer service. I saw the need to bring accountability to leadership and to develop leaders to better serve and inspire those whom they lead. We have professionalized how leaders are chosen, are implementing an online leadership development program, and we are sending future leaders to administrative management schools to ensure that high quality and relevant leadership principles continue.
I knew there were aspects of the culture at the Sheriff's Office that needed to be challenged and changed. Today we are more committed to quality public service, moral courage, and leadership by example than ever before. It is who we are today.
I am proud of what the men and women of your Sheriff's Office have accomplished, but we have much left to do. I ask for your support on November 4, so that we can complete the work that we have started.
I hope my story will be an inspiration to others.
I left high school at the age of 16 and, while I wouldn't advise a young person to do that today, it seemed to be reasonable for me at that time in my life.
Looking back, I realize that I struggled with attention disorders that made traditional study methods difficult for me. After spending a year exploring the country and trying to find a job, I knew my best hope was to join the military to learn a trade.
I joined the Navy as soon as I turned 17, and served my country for the next 4 years. I was honorably discharged and left the service at the age of 21 as a Viet Nam service era veteran and a welder by trade. It was my Navy service and veterans benefits that provided the opportunity for me to obtain my GED, advance my trade skills and later to earn my Associate Degree in Criminal Justice maintaining a 3.9 GPA.
After working as a plant worker, welder/fabricator, iron worker, and welding instructor, I felt led to pursue a career in law enforcement. I have served the citizens of Henderson County honorably and at all levels in that profession-including training and leadership-since 1985. By God's grace alone, I have excelled in all that I have put my hand to.
My story, like so many of yours, is one of redemption. I am the product of all of my life's experiences, both good and bad. I have learned that all life has value, and there is hope for everyone still living. I am not perfect, but I am eternally indebted to the One who is. That is my story. Perhaps it sounds like yours. I hope my record of service and my life story have earned your confidence in my continued leadership as Sheriff of Henderson County.
Sheriff's Office Exceeds Break-in Reduction Goal
Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald outlined a plan last year to reduce residential break-ins and larcenies by 12 percent this March. He said the effort would be achieved through new crime-mapping software, a new crime analyst, a special task force and enhanced communications throughout the department.
The result of the department's efforts more than doubled its goal.
Break-ins and all other larcenies are down by 21.64 percent, McDonald said Thursday as he examined a sheet of statistics. "Had we hit 12 percent, we would have considered ourselves successful," he said. "These figures are so high it makes it look like we set the figure ridiculously low, but I think a lot of that (success) has to do with the fact that the way we reallocated our resources, we made it a whole agency focus; we are really surprised by the results we got."
The Sheriff's Office used drug seizure money last year to purchase crime-mapping software to "look at trends in crime as they occur," helping officers impact criminals in ways not attempted here before.
The map went active on the Sheriff's website last year. On any given week the new crime map is littered with symbols for robbery, larceny, vandalism, burglary and vehicle break-ins--popping up as beacons to crime scenes. The interactive symbols give officers an idea of how to form a game plan not so easily laid out before, showing the strikes of the offense and giving them a better guess of where criminals may hit next.
Capt. Tim Gordon told a class of recruits in the Sheriff's Citizens Academy March 11 that crime saturation patrols have put heat on the hotspots. Officers form "wolf packs," targeting the areas with extra foot patrols, checkpoints, traffic enforcement, surveillance and teamwork to catch criminals in the act. The mere sight of their extra presence acts as a deterrent. "If we don't catch them doing it, which ideally we'd like to, at least we reduce it from happening in that area. They go somewhere else," McDonald said. "They go somewhere else and then I have another hotspot," said the department's crime analyst, Kelly Hogan, who keeps deputies informed of the trends in crime and where they occur on a regular basis. She encourages officers to be on the lookout for suspects or suspect vehicles, asking them to pass along tips they might run across.
The information is gathered and disseminated throughout the department. "It's making everybody more aware of what we're looking for," McDonald said. "It makes all the eyes out there a whole lot more effective maybe than what they were before." ins and thefts, the sheriff said, but everyone works together on the mission to reduce larcenies. "We've just been a lot more successful in getting information out and keeping everybody aware of what's going on," McDonald said.
Ideas for reducing the crimes were generated by deputies on the job, he added, which has been another key to their success. "The reward kind of works both ways. We see good numbers and they get a lot of results for their efforts and their imagination," he said. "That's probably the biggest difference in the last couple of years here, I think. It's just kind of the tip of the iceberg to where we're headed in the next four."
But there is more work to do. "We don't necessarily have all of the processes and systems in place to gather all of the data that we'd like to in the way that we'd like to, but we understand how important that is and we're working toward that. Really over the next several years, I want to be an agency that can say we are totally driven by real data and statistics," McDonald said. "Law enforcement throughout the nation, if they haven't moved to this already, are in the process of moving towards this. It's being smart with what you have."
The "proof is in the pudding" that the theory of real statistics improving enforcement is working, he said, pointing to the numbers. In the past, Hogan said, their efforts were oftentimes reactive. "When something happens, we go investigate and we try to solve it. With the analytics and trying to keep up with the crime stats we're trying to be more proactive," she said. "With the hotspots, I'm showing them where things are happening or starting to happen and then they go start patrolling those areas to possibly catch the perpetrator in the act or just to stop the act all together because of their presence." "It has really helped," McDonald said. "The officers really appreciate it because they really feel like they know when to turn their radar up based on some of the information they have."
Hogan said the public has access to some of the information on where crimes are happening as well. The crime map can be accessed through the "Crime Reports" link on the sheriff's website at hendersoncountync.org/sheriff. "We're really happy with where it's going so far," McDonald said. "It just makes us more effective. The taxpayer gets more bang for the buck."