Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes said this week that he wishes the best for his successor, Sheriff-elect Danny Rogers, but he added that he remains skeptical about the prospects for the department given Roger’s lack of experience.
Rogers beat Barnes, the county’s six-term sheriff, in the Nov. 6 election, but Barnes said it’s no easy task to come in cold and run a department of more than 600 people.
“He’s the dog who caught the car,” Barnes said, adding, “but I wish him luck for the good of the officers and the people in the county.”
Rogers does have some experience as a sheriff’s deputy and a police officer.
Barnes said he’s concerned about the future of the department given the fact that Rogers has little experience and has promised to shake up what’s been a highly reputable department for years – one that Barnes said other departments in the state have tried to emulate.
Barnes said the Sheriff’s Department is already starting to change even before Rogers takes control.
“There is an air of uncertainty and it’s a crying shame,” Barnes said. “Nobody knows if they’ve got a job or not.”
Barnes said that, in all his years, he never hired or fired anyone based on “politics” but he’s concerned that that may not be the practice under the new sheriff.
The Nov. 6 loss clearly shocked Barnes, who said he has accepted the outcome and is ready to move on.
This week Barnes reiterated some advice for Rogers that he had on the day after the election: Listen to those who have been running the department for years.
Some longtime Sheriff’s Department employees are leaving with Barnes. For instance, Gary McDaniel, who oversees the deputies in the court system, is leaving at the end of the month after 50 years with the department. McDaniel had that retirement planned before the election but some of those now leaving did not.
Some have speculated that Barnes might run again for sheriff in four years but Barnes said he will not. He said, for one thing, that would downgrade his retirement benefits and income, which are based on consecutive years of employment.
Barnes explained what he would be doing in his last days as sheriff.
“I’m cleaning out 24 years of stuff,” he said.