FORUM: Perdue, Stone want to tackle drug problem, disagree on needle exchange approach
Published 8:44 am Wednesday, May 2, 2018
The Republican candidates for Clark County Sheriff talked about methods to deter drug-related crimes, arming school staff and the needle exchange during their portion of the Clark County Candidates Forum Tuesday.
Incumbent Berl Perdue Jr. and Winchester Police officer Shannon Stone each touted their long law enforcement careers as reasons why they are best suited for office.
Perdue has served three terms as sheriff and said he has 36 years of experience between his time in office and his career as a Winchester Police officer, retiring as detective sergeant.
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Stone has 25 years of law enforcement experience, and is currently a captain for Winchester Police.
Stone said his priority as sheriff would be to launch a “major attack on our local drug epidemic.”
Both candidates agreed the drug issue is one of major concern in Clark County, and contributes to higher crime rates.
Perdue said he has a deputy assigned to a Kentucky State Police drug task force and aims to have a deputy on a federal drug task force, which would help bring money for law enforcement to put towards fighting drugs and drug-related crime, as well as millions of dollars toward drug rehabilitation efforts.
Despite the crimes associated with drugs, Perdue said he believes his department does a good job protecting the county, citing that the city sees significantly more drug-related crimes, arrests and overdoses.
“If you look at statistics, the city of Winchester has reported 2,100 or more crimes a year,” he said. “Clark County, the part that we patrol, has 400. That’s five times as many crimes in the city as in the county. I think we’re pretty safe. According to the coroner, four out of five drug overdoses are in the city, not the county. So, I think we’ve done a good job, and will continue to do a better job and will keep working as hard as we can.”
Stone said about 90 percent of crimes, including burglaries and thefts, are drug-related in Clark County. By fighting the drug problem, the county would see a reduction in those crimes as well, he said.
“You attack, or you direct your resources towards drug investigations, then it will directly affect the overall crime,” he said.
In regards to arming teachers and promoting school safety, both said working closely with school administrators would be essential.
Stone said he would look to meet with teachers, principals and other school officials to learn their opinions on arming school staff and school safety. If teachers felt comfortable and confident carrying guns, he would support that decision.
Perdue also said he would support the district’s decision to arm teachers, if it came to that. He also said adding more school resource officers would be the first step to promoting school safety.
The candidates differed most in opinion on the local harm reduction needle exchange program.
While Perdue admitted his opinion has changed in recent years, he supports the program.
“If you’d asked me five years ago, I’d have said I was totally, 100 percent against it,” he said. “I would have called it enabling. After I’ve seen and talked to medical professionals and doctors about the hepatitis C problem we have in this county, that kind of switched me a little bit. But what really got me to support this is I had a deputy stuck with a dirty needle, and I know what he went through. I know the tests he had to go through, the months of waiting.”
Stone said he thinks the program is a waste of taxpayer money.
“I’m not for the needle exchange program,” he said. “What I am for is a search warrant, a door ram and a pair of handcuffs. That’s what it’s going to take to fight this war on drugs. It’s called accountability.”