Candidate Q&A: Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte
Bob Bezotte- R will be running for re-election for sheriff of Livingston County in the Aug. 7 primary election.
Hartland and Brighton Patch has sent out a survey to candidates running for office to represent Livingston County. The following is the Q&A response from sheriff Bob Bezotte.
Patch: How long have you lived in Livingston County?
I have lived in Livingston County for a total of 31 years. I moved here in 1972, left in 1987 after accepting a position at Dominos, then returned in 1997 and have lived here since.
Patch: What Community and civic organizations are you currently involved in?
I am a member of the:
- Howell Rotary,
- Hamburg VFW,
- Masonic Lodge of Howell
- Howell Kiwanis
- Howell Eagles.
- I am an avid supporter of the Salvation Army, Livingston County United Way, Livingston County Big Brothers and Big Sisters, 4-H, Gleaners Food Bank, the Livingston County Republicans and LACASA.
Patch: What personal and Professional experiences make you qualified to hold that position?
I am your current Sheriff and have been for the past 8 years. I have 29 years of Law Enforcement experience, I am a graduate of Police School of Staff and Command and the FBI National Academy. I have faced many challenges these past 8 years but none more important than living within our budget ( I have been under budget each and every year since taking office) while providing quality service to the citizens of Livingston County as well as those who visit and pass through. Along with Undersheriff Mike Murphy and the rest of my administrative team, we have been successful in this endeavor as evidenced by the following:
Working with Prosecutor Dave Morse and our Judges we developed a Sentence Work Abatement Plan (SWAP) that allows inmates to work in the community under the direction of a deputy to decrease the number of days they are incarcerated.
I led the nation in establishing Project Opiate (Heroin). Working in conjunction with the courts and Chief Probation Officer Francine Sumner, this program gives much needed education, support, and mentoring to individuals incarcerated with an opiate addiction. Breaking the habit allows the individual to once again become a contributing member of society.
The drug problem in our county is very real, and I am addressing that not only with the aforementioned Project Opiate, but I also have 3 deputies assigned to various narcotics units. Along with the Health Department, Prosecutors Office, and the other Police Chiefs, I led the charge to get K2 and other synthetic drugs off the shelves of our local outlets.
In partnership with the Livingston County Community Alliance we started the “Big Red Barrel” campaign. My office accepts unused / unwanted medications; no questions asked which we destroy in an environmental approved fashion. This keeps the drugs out of our homes medicine cabinets in turn out of the hands of our children.
During my tenure I started our own Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) position. I assigned a deputy to the Michigan State Police ICAC unit to be thoroughly trained in these very specific crimes. The deputies were also certified as experts in computer forensics and upon leaving the unit and reintegrating to my office, they not only returned with their skills and training, but they were able to keep their computer which enables them to perform forensic examinations. We have used the deputies’ skills to assist several other police agencies both within and outside of Livingston County.
In conjunction with the Michigan Sheriff’s Association, we participate in the STOPPED program. This is a program in which once a young driver registers, they are given a sticker to be placed in their vehicle. In the event of Law Enforcement contact (for whatever reason), the parent is notified of the contact and they are provided with a brief description of that contact. All the high schools in Livingston County support this program, and it is my hope that by the beginning of the 2012 / 13 school year all students are required to register, and this registration will be used as their student parking pass.
If re-elected I pledge to continue to do what is best for Livingston County, and continually look for innovative ways to provide the services our citizens desire.
Patch: What is the most important issue facing the county related to your position and what do you intend to do about it during your term in office?
There are many issues facing the Sheriff’s Office today, but the single most important issue is the lack of adequate bed space for the inmates. Our current facility has a rated capacity of 254.
We have done a very good job of working with the judges, courts and prosecutor’s office to keep people out of jail via alternative measures. However, that ends up being a double edged sword, because the inmates we currently house are not the inmates the jail was designed to house.
Additionally, the number of females incarcerated has exploded (this is a national trend). Again, because of our jails design, it makes it difficult to manage this population. The Department of Justice recently enacted a set of guidelines known as PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act). This is a 258 page document that will change the way we do business in correctional facilities.
We are in the process of combing through these guidelines and will be working with the county board of commissioners to find a viable long term solution to our design issues. Maintaining the jail is a statutory requirement, so it is imperative that we keep up with the changing laws and trends.
Patch: Do you belong to the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and hold the values of Sheriff Mack?
I am not a member of the C.S.P.O.A., I do however agree with a majority of their values as well as the values of Sheriff Mack. It seems that specific areas around the country have been targeted to eliminate or at the very least minimize the Sheriffs Authority. This has not been the case in Michigan. All Sheriffs in Michigan support the Michigan Sheriff’s Association, and in turn receive a high level of support from them. We also have a very good internal network allowing us to tackle any attacks directed our way.
I took an oath to uphold the laws of the state of Michigan as well as the constitution. I have and will continue to do just that. The Sheriff is the only true Law Enforcement official selected by the people. I appreciate and respect that, as well as the tradition of the Office of Sheriff.