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Michael Raffield Informs Readers Why He is Running for Sheriff

web posted August 11, 2016

                                                          raffieldTo the residents of Edgefield County,

I am Michael Raffield and I am asking for your support as the new sheriff of Edgefield County. I have written this letter to you to express why I am running for Sheriff of Edgefield County. My intent was to allow for you to see my professional background, experience and ideology regarding my vision to keep Edgefield County safe!

My career in emergency services began through volunteerism as a high school student when I became an emergency medical technician. I volunteered as a member of the Belvedere/ North Augusta Rescue Squad for twenty years and ended my volunteer career as a Nationally Registered Paramedic and Assistant Director of the organization. My professional career began with the North Augusta Department of Public Safety as a public safety officer, which spanned ten years and included police duties, fire suppression and rendering medical aid. While working for North Augusta Public Safety, I had the fortune to work in the patrol division, traffic division and narcotic division, and held a position as a staff instructor. Professionally, I matured at North Augusta because of the multitude of educational disciplines that were associated with a combined service organization. Important lessons were learned through shadowing multiple leaders while dealing with serious incidents, such as complex murder cases, kidnapping events, multijurisdictional narcotic investigations and large scale fire/ Haz-Mat incidents.

Understanding the relationship of EMS, police and fire organizations before a major emergency is critical to any successful incident. The training I received regarding these combined services, in concert with the Incident Command System, was invaluable as to the leadership that I am able to provide today. After 9-11, I became a United States Federal Air Marshal and served protecting our American security interests both domestically and abroad for approximately six years, until an unfortunate training accident. After I recovered, I returned to local law enforcement with the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office, approximately seven years, and led as a shift supervisor. Once I decided to run against the incumbent sheriff, I moved my employment to the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office for two years. Again I rose to the level of supervisor and their Blood-Hound Team Coordinator after giving full disclosure to my political plans. During this time an opportunity arose for a Chief of Police position with the Ridge Spring Police Department, to which I accepted and have learned the administrative responsibilities of a law enforcement director. I would like to note that I again gave full disclosure to the mayor and council of my political ambitions before being offered and accepting the Chief’s position for the Ridge Spring Police Department. My career has afforded me the privilege of handling not only criminal investigations, but also managing employees and administrative duties necessary for the position of Sheriff.

In my personal life, I am married with two children who attend public school within Edgefield County. I am a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Trenton, where I reside. I am currently a student of Columbia College, working towards a new degree in Criminal Justice Administration because of the importance of keeping current in a very technical field that we are facing today in law enforcement. As of today, I have three classes left to complete my Bachelors degree. I would be honored to serve as your sheriff, and if elected I have new plans to defend against the increased crime-wave that is ravaging our county.

My platform is simple, I intend to work hard and provide exemplary leadership to the brave men and women who are protecting you today. An organization is stated to only be as strong as its weakest link, and to that degree I will take care of the county citizens, the county volunteers and employees under my leadership. It is important that the community has a true voice regarding their law enforcement’s culture, therefore, I will immediately form a community advisory board. I know that Sheriff Dobey previously stated in an interview that he would form a community advisory board but he did not, but I am a man of my word and will solicit membership within the first week of office. This concept is more important today than ever with the current crisis we are seeing across the nation. This program will consist of business leaders, church leaders and everyday citizens, and will help shape the agency’s direction regarding policies, training, promotions and community involvement. Community involvement is essential in successful law enforcement today and is the most important link in the chain of success in protecting our citizens and their property.

It will be my objective to revamp our Reserve Deputy Program by increasing the number of ready reserves, and adding another level of reserve that can aid in situations that do not involve potential violence, i.e. missing person’s cases. Additionally, I would solicit volunteers to start a Reserve Horse Patrol Program because of our county’s rich supply of equestrian activity and due to the geography of the county, which makes a program feasible and necessary. As your sheriff, I would task the members of the newly formed programs with assisting in locating missing persons and like incidents that require covering areas best suited by horseback, four-wheelers and foot. Nothing could be more relevant to this discussion than the missing lady from the Merriweather area that occurred in July of this year. In this incident there was no communication or cooperation from law enforcement with the local Fire Department, or local community members. In this incident, citizens and the Fire Department found the lady after the Sheriff’s Office failed to notify the Fire Department or continue an adequate search until the lady was located. This incident is similar to other missing person cases that were not properly supervised by the Sheriff. In times of missing persons, it is the responsibility of law enforcement’s top law enforcement official to do everything within their power to safely return the missing person to their family, or in cases of tragedy, locate the victim so the family can experience closure in time. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, SLED, was not called in to assist with the missing lady, Tammy Kingery, until late into the investigation and because outside influences forced Sheriff Dobey to except help due to his inability to solve the case. However, with any serious investigation time is of the essence and failing to use all resources and the state agency, SLED, is a complete failure in leadership. SLED continually advises Police Chiefs and Sheriffs to call them immediately when dealing with missing person so they can aid in the investigation during the initial hours of the investigation and bring in specialized equipment such as their aviation team.

I will work side by side with our other county emergency services, EMS, Fire and Emergency Management, including the Red Cross and like organizations, to ensure that we are maximizing our paid and volunteer efforts. Simply doing a once a year drill does not adequately prepare our emergency services for the threats facing us today and in the near future. There is no reason that ‘we’, emergency services, cannot work together daily and enjoy the combined response and assistance to every true emergency. This is why I have previously stated that Automated External Defibrillators, AEDs, should be placed in police vehicles to strengthen the chance of survival for citizens that suffer a heart attack. For every minute that passes after someone suffers cardiac arrest, there is a ten percent decrease in survivability for each minute that passes, which means that after ten minutes the chance for surviving is 0%. The average response time for our EMS system is 15 minutes, which was stated as a fair representation by our local EMS Director. The reason this is important is because our deputies are already patrolling and can arrive within the ten minute window and provide the necessary treatment to save a life, which is why anyone working in emergency service goes to work every day! Whether the victim is a child with an undiagnosed medical condition which leads to sudden cardiac arrest, or the victim of sudden cardiac arrest is an adult, saving one life would be absolutely worth the training and minimal equipment cost. Law enforcement agencies have been carrying these devices and receiving the necessary training for over 20 years, and I attempted to start the program while I worked under Sheriff Dobey, but I was informed that, “We don’t do that”. Deputies should also have basic First-Aid training in order to provide emergency medical aid to victims that suffer from a traumatic injury until EMS can arrive and provide definitive care. There is no reason for a deputy to standby idly without the necessary training and gear while a citizen is suffering or dying. Our county must have an integration of emergency cross training to prepare for future incidents, and to adequately protect our citizens and property.

If elected I will restructure the Sheriff’s Office manpower and immediately place eight deputies on patrol answering calls, including myself and all top staff positions. This will allow for proper coverage and the ability to patrol areas that have previously not seen a deputy unless a crime was already committed, such as the West Side, North Side, Ridge Spring area, Trenton, Mt. Vintage and the Southern end of the County closest to the Savannah river. This is a requirement under state law where the statue states, “The deputy sheriffs shall patrol the entire county at least twice a week by sections assigned to each by the Sheriff”, (LexisNexis, 2015). Once the manpower has been maximized new community policing tactics will be employed to strengthen our law enforcement efforts. New community policing programs, such as “Hot Spot Policing” and others, will be used in conjunction with the older community policing concept to fight crime. New community policing programs and a Community Advisory Board are essential in bringing the community and law enforcement together, and will do more in crime prevention than any solo law enforcement venture.

Traffic safety will also be enforced with the targeting of certain activities, such as reckless driving, persons driving under the influence and persons using motor vehicles to commit property crimes and crimes of violence. Unlike Sheriff Dobey, I will allow the deputies to have full authority and decision making to when a vehicle needs to be stopped for a lawful violation or for suspicious activity. Vehicle stops will be used to breakup criminal activity, such as narcotic trafficking, persons committing burglaries and snatch-and-grab style larcenies. Advance Criminal Enforcement traffic stops, ACE Stops, has been a truly successful tactic used by law enforcement and works with traffic safety hand-and-hand in the systematic disruption of criminal activity involving drug trafficking, removing weapons from criminals and decreasing dangerous driving. Additionally, 99.9% of all crimes committed today use a mode of transportation and requires law enforcement to be proactive in traffic enforcement to help deter crime. Since my employment with Edgefield County, Saluda County and becoming Chief of Ridge Spring Police Department, I have arrested 10 subjects that committed an armed robbery. In every case, Dodge’s, Mexican Convenience Store on US 25 South, Ridge Spring Convenience and the Circle-K, there was at least one motor vehicle involved. Traffic safety is a serious objective, which I stand behind 100%, and I also believe that by adding an educational component in lieu of a fine for first time offenders, that the traffic program can be a successful and fair program. We will be diligent in showing fairness and allowing opportunities for persons to gain assistance for traffic violations, but we will enforce traffic laws to ensure your family’s safety. My belief on this matter is strong because having a functioning traffic program lessens the chance of your law enforcement community from having to arrive on a family’s doorstep to inform them that their family member or child has died from an unnecessary traffic collision.

In closing, I would like to thank everyone who has supported law enforcement and our emergency service as a whole during these unfortunate times we are experiencing. If elected, I promise to give my best and uphold my office with honor and integrity to the citizens of Edgefield County. I further promise to be available to the citizens of Edgefield County and will do everything within my power to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of the county and for the visitors that come to enjoy our rich heritage. I will be challenging Sheriff Dobey in three debates between now and November 8, 2016. I hope that by spreading the debates evenly across the county everyone can attend at least one event. If you would like for me to come speak regarding my platform issues in your neighborhood, civic group or church, please contact me and I will be happy to respond. You can reach me through my Facebook page, “Michael Raffield for Edgefield County Sheriff 2016”, or my email address of mjraffield211@yahoo.com.

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