Fairfax County Sheriff Stan Barry first ran for sheriff because he saw ways he could improve the efficiency of the sheriff’s office. Twelve years later, two Republican candidates are running because they also see ways that they can improve it.
Harold “Wes” Kammerer and William Cooper are set to square off during the Republican primary election for the bid, Tuesday, Aug. 23.
According to the Fairfax County website, the Sheriff’s Office provides three main service areas in the community through managing the Adult Detention Center, providing security in the courthouses, and servicing civil law process.
Kammerer, a former New York City police investigator and Secret Service agent, said he is running because he wants to see more collaboration with the sheriff’s office and other the community.
“There are so many programs that we can do,” Kammerer said. “My thing is to turn around and to develop community relationships with everybody so we can all be united into one; we can accomplish so much more by being united.”
If elected, Kammerer said he hopes to develop programs where the Sheriff's Office serves as a public relations liaison for other law enforcement agencies in the county to the community, educates neighborhood watch groups on how to effectively observe and gather information their neighborhoods and develops a program to help senior citizens from being taken advantage of with scams.
Because he is running for more collaboration with the community, Kammerer said he tries to go to as many community meetings as he can to campaign.
Cooper, a retired lieutenant from the Fairfax County Sheriff’s office, said he wants the sheriff’s office to take a “tough on crime” approach.
“I am running for sheriff because I’m running on a ‘tough on crime’ agenda for Fairfax County,” Cooper said. “I feel that the sheriff is one of the chief law enforcement officers in the county. I believe one of the primary duties of sheriff is keep Fairfax families safe.”
Cooper retired from the Fairfax County Sheriff’s office in March after 24 years of service in order to run for sheriff in the fall and to not “cause a disruption” in the sheriff’s office.
“It is one of my goals to run the strictest jails on the East Coast,” he said.
Cooper said with his “tough on crime” agenda, he would like to see the Sheriff’s Office take the lead on certain taskforces such as minimizing gang activity, make arrests for the current 4,000 outstanding fugitive warrants and implement a “dead-beat parent” initiative, where parents who do not pay child support go to jail until they pay.
Cooper said he would have the office figure out who is behind, get the courts’ involvement, go out and lock them up.
While Kammerer and Cooper compete for the Republican bid, Barry said he thinks this election will come down to his record and whether or not the people of Fairfax County want him to continue the work he is doing.
“What used to happen was the sheriff’s office would have independent controls out doing radar, traffic enforcement, DWI enforcement and it created a lot of conflict with the police department,” Barry said. “It was another one of my visions was to be more collaborative, still have the assistance go out, but be more collaborative with local law enforcement instead of competing with them.”
Barry said this collaborative attitude is not exclusive to other law enforcement agencies and the sheriff’s office also collaborates with other county offices.
“We went through the same cuts as all the other agencies because of the economic downturn but this year, we are returning over $1 million that we were able to save by economizing the way we do business,” he said. “Again, it’s that collaborative effort that we are not in it for ourselves but that we are trying to help other groups.”
While Barry said he hopes to continue the collaborative nature of the Sheriff’s Office with other groups, he also hopes to continue investing in technology to cut man-hours to help taxpayers save money.