Murphy says sheriff's office needs new leadership
By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector
Monday, April 9, 2018
Bobby Murphy thinks that the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office needs better leadership and is confident his extensive law enforcement background qualifies him to do the job.
Murphy has been employed with the sheriff's office since 1983. He's worked in narcotics, homicide, patrol, dispatch and family services, he said.
He also has served undercover as a narcotics agent in more than 40 counties for agencies including the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
“I was what you call an exchange agent,” Murphy said. “Back in the day I had an Afro and a gold tooth. That's what fit the bill. I come with a wealth of law enforcement knowledge.
“There's a good need for a leader. Leaders lead from the front. They know all the jobs from the floor up to the top. I think I have those qualifications,” Murphy said.
Murphy (click here for his Facebook page) is among three Democrats seeking the seat currently held by Neil Elks. Two Republicans also are running in primary elections set for May 8. Elks is not seeking another term. Early voting begins April 19.
During a recent interview with The Daily Reflector, Murphy addressed his priorities and questions that have surfaced so far during the campaign.
On the opioid crisis
“If I could get rid of all these drugs, half of your crime would go away. Even though somebody's been charged with a drug crime, you don't just throw them away. Have a rehab program. Some of these people are prescribed all these opioids.
“People are trying to get as much medicine as they can because they're thinking it could be cut off soon. Doctors are just writing prescriptions. It's a problem that somebody would address. Some doctors are just as bad as these street dealers because they're trying to capitalize on this money thing. It is what it is. It's all about the money.”
Jail is not the place for the mentally ill, Murphy said.
“You can't just throw these people away. You got to address it. The jail is not the place for a heroin addict. Ask county commissioners, federal representatives, state senators. There's a whole lot of things you can do if you go to the people with the right attitude and ask.
The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office requires deputies to complete continuing education every year so they can learn how to effectively deal with those who are mentally ill.
“We do our 40-hour annual training through the crisis intervention program. Deputies role play somebody who is possibly mentally ill, strung out on drugs, and that gives other deputies a lot of training and knowledge so they can handle situations like this. They are not professional counselors or anything, but it gives them the basics to handle a person like that. All street deputies must go through a 40 hour training block every year.
“If we can get the money, I would love to have a program for people afflicted by the opioid crisis because they don't need to be in our jail. They need to have a detox,” Murphy said.
On the crime lab
“There are very capable crime lab operators over there. Very capable detectives. We got to work together. No matter what. Black, white, green, whatever, we got to work together. We’ve got to work with the SBI and the DEA. I think that with a collaborative effort, we can get this problem solved. It's not them and us, it's all of us,” Murphy said.
On aging vehicles
“I will make sure my deputies have safer vehicles — some of these cars are older — where they get newer cars, more frequently. After a car gets 90,000-100,000 miles, they become dangerous. These deputies have to ride all 600 square miles of this county, day and night. I want to make sure they have a safe mode of transportation to take them where they need to be,” Murphy said.
Good ole boy system
“I want to get rid of the good ole boy system. Just because somebody's daddy knew this person, you get in. I want it to be, if you can do this job. I don’t care whether you're black, white, green, gay, you're LGBTQ, I want to give you a chance.”
On school safety
School safety starts at home, Murphy said. “If you have a child at home, talk to your child. Have a relationship with your child no matter what. Go in your child's room. Ninety percent of all guns are in a child's room. You are an adult with a child, you're running that house. Go in that child's room. Deal with your child so that we wont have to deal with that child in a negative light.
Murphy suggested implementing bio scanners and for schools to require plastic book bags.
“We can have bio scanners. When the child walks in the school, scan his finger, backpack. See what's going on. What you got to hide, there's enough plastic backpacks and book bags to go around. If people at the school will start saying no, only the clear ones are allowed, like they do at concerts and different things.”
Murphy wants to hire younger school resource officers.
“Students need a capable school resource officer. Not one of the old ones who are not connected with a child. Have somebody younger that's closer to the child's age. Not one in their 50s. Sometime children say, well, he's my age and I can talk to him.”
On community policing
“I want to see more officers on the street instead of at their desk on Facebook or social media. Those are good tools, but I don't want to see you sit in an office when you can have a pair of eyes on the street patrolling, where the crooks see you.”
On body cameras
“We don't want kids saying, ‘That officer did something to me’ and the officer doesn’t have a leg to stand on. If there's a body camera, it protects the child and protects the officer. We can do it gradually. You can ask residents to help us buy one. You never know what you get until you ask.”
“I would ask, I would even beg for my people. I want this county as safe at night as I feel when I'm in my household. I want the same county to have the same feeling that I have. We're all in this together. We must work with the small town departments, Bethel, Ayden, Grifton, Farmville, Fountain. They have good men and women. We wont to be able to work with them. They have a lot of great resources.
Greenville is paying a little more money. I wish we could get our payscale up with Greenville. I got to go the county comissioners and see what I can do. I can beg and see but sometimes, your hands are tied,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he will seek an increase in salary only if his deputies get an increase.
“I'm not concerned about the pay for the sheriff, it's not about the money. It's about the people. Pitt County citizens. I Would not seek an increase in salary unless my deputies get one. My deputies come first. My staff comes first.”
Contact Tyler Stocks at firstname.lastname@example.org and 329-9566.
The Daily Reflector will profile candidates in the contested primary election races in Pitt County through April 19, the start of early voting. Stories on the candidates for Pitt County sheriff will continue Tuesday with Democrat Tony Williams. Stories on Republicans Randy Mitchell and Gary Weaver are scheduled for Wednesday. Future stories will cover primaries for N.C. Senate District 5, N.C. House District 8, Pitt County Board of Commissioners, Pitt County District Attorney and U.S. House District 3. Visit this story on reflector.com for links to previous stories.