Guilford County Sheriff’s Department Colonel Randy Powers, one of the nearly 30 employees who has been told that as of Dec. 3 when Sheriff-elect Danny Rogers takes over he will no longer have a job, is expressing his concerns over what he said is the wholesale dismantling of effective Guilford County Sheriff’s Department programs that have been carefully put in place over the years to keep the county safe.
Powers, who has been Sheriff BJ Barnes’ second in command for over two decades, said he’s not making the statement because of any bitterness over the recent election or because of a political or personal agenda. He said it is simply his grave concern that meticulously thought out crime protection and public safety programs implemented over decades are now being casually tossed out without what appears to be any thought whatsoever.
In the Tuesday, Nov. 6 election, Sheriff-elect Danny Rogers defeated Barnes, a six-term sheriff. So far, Rogers has fired nearly 30 employees, some of them like Powers are high-ranking officers who run divisions and existing programs.
Powers first started working with the Sheriff’s Department in the early ‘70s, then after working in other law enforcement jobs, came back to the department in 1994 to serve as Barnes’ colonel.
Powers said that, after the recent election, he was concerned about having some experience remain in the department for a while to help ensure a smooth transition.
“I offered to stay and help; there’s a lot they need to be aware of – but they gave me my letter yesterday,” Powers said on Wednesday, Nov. 29
He said there are nearly 650 employees in the department and a lot of distinct divisions to oversee. He said Rogers’ new colonel, retired Guilford County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Steve Parr, doesn’t have much experience in many of those areas.
“Parr has some experience in patrol but he has never worked vice for instance,” Powers said.
Powers said the new team is coming in and, with no apparent thought or understanding, simply casting aside programs that have been effective. Powers said that in some cases there is not even any sort of understandable rationale why Rogers and the new team want to get rid of something.
“We ask and they will just say, ‘Because we’re for the people,’” Powers said, adding that he and others do not know what that means.
Powers said a host of Sheriff’s Department programs had helped bring down crime 65 percent in Guilford County over the years.
He said collaborative programs with other counties, special DNA testing practices, crime prevention strategies, the department’s airplane program and other programs were now going to be radically changed or done away with entirely.
“We worked hard over the years to get those in place,” Powers said. “We studied; we went to seminars; we did research and we carefully put together programs and those programs are working.”
He said they were fine tuned through years of testing, and now he said Rogers and his team were haphazardly dismantling them.
“Why do you take something that is working and just throw it out?” Powers said.
According to Powers, the department’s law enforcement airplane program is a perfect example.
He said Rogers and his team say the airplane is a joke and plan to get rid of it.
“It’s not a joke,” he said of the airplane, adding that it had been invaluable to the department in many situations.
He said it was a specially designed aircraft that could fly at low speeds for surveillance and it cost $35 an hour to operate – a fraction of what a helicopter costs to run. Powers also said that helicopters draw the attention of people on the ground but small quiet planes such as this one do not.
Powers added that the department’s main pilot has been asked by law enforcement agencies across the county to give presentations about the use of the airplane and others have modeled programs after Guilford County’s airplane program.