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Chapter president Brent Hudson said the sheriff candidate's pledge of an open-door policy is appealing.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
The local Fraternal Order of Police chapter, which counts many Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office employees among its ranks, has endorsed Democratic challenger Tim Allen in the city’s sheriff race.
In an announcement Thursday, the organization’s Roanoke-based chapter, Old Dominion Lodge No. 1, said it would throw the weight of more than 300 members behind Allen’s campaign to defeat Republican incumbent Sheriff Octavia Johnson and independent challenger Travis Akins.
Allen worked in the city’s sheriff’s office for more than 21 years before he resigned to take a captain’s position at the Western Virginia Regional Jail in 2008.
Brent Hudson, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police chapter, said the group’s main reason for choosing Allen is his promise to maintain a relationship with the organization, which advocates for law enforcement employees.
“He would have an open-door policy,” Hudson said. “The open-door policy is what we’re really looking for.”
Johnson, who is seeking her third term, said Thursday that she did not seek the organization’s endorsement. She has received endorsements from several local politicians, including U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, and state Sen. Ralph Smith, R-Bedford County.
The Republican is the first woman and first minority to be elected sheriff in Roanoke. She also has earned the endorsement of community activists Evelyn Bethel and Helen Davis. The Virginia Federation of Republican Women has donated money to her campaign.
Allen said Thursday he has concerns about possible excessive discipline of the staff at the sheriff’s office under Johnson’s leadership. He also plans to increase the number of work crews allowed to perform duties in the community, like beautifying parks or cleaning up overgrown alleys.
Hudson said the Fraternal Order of Police in the area did not endorse a candidate in the last sheriff’s race, when Johnson won re-election. But several members of the chapter, Hudson said, felt they were mistreated as employees of the sheriff’s office, including his father, whom he said Johnson declined to reappoint.
“We don’t have a good working relationship with Sheriff Johnson,” Hudson said.
Hudson said Johnson declined to have discussions or an open conversation with the Fraternal Order of Police. Aside from complaints about Johnson, the group’s announcement cited forward-thinking strategies as positives for Allen’s campaign.
“Tim plans to bring an innovative, ethical and progressive leadership to the office and to implement the much needed improvements in the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office,” the announcement said. “We believe Tim Allen is the man who can best lead the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office in the right direction and we’re going to support him every step of the way.
Akins, the independent candidate who works as a Roanoke police officer, has gained the endorsement of the Virginia Crime Prevention Association. The Richmond-based nonprofit has never before endorsed a candidate for the Roanoke sheriff position, but did throw support behind candidates in Franklin County and Alleghany County in recent years.
Executive director Tami Wyrick said Akins fits the organization’s approach to preventative law enforcement.
“We basically like to endorse people who are going to help us with our mission — creating safe and sustainable communities in Virginia,” she said.
She said Akins’ stated focus on keeping employees current on the most up-to-date training methods appeals to the organization.
The three candidates will participate in a forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at The Ronald McDonald House in South Roanoke, and then at a debate sponsored by the NAACP on Oct. 5 at William Fleming High School .
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