Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Travis Akins independent Roanoke City sheriff candidate sets priorities

Travis Akins

Riverland/Walnut Hills neighborhood listen to Travis Akins candidate for sheriff.

Sheriff deputies “don’t feel respected or valued or appreciated” said Travis Akins independent Roanoke City Sheriff candidate following the Riverland/Walnut Hill neighborhood meeting Monday evening. On his website Akins has a “RSO (Roanoke Sheriff Office) employees” tab where sheriff deputies can anonymously submit their concerns.

About thirty deputies have used the method of communication, some anonymously and some not. He said hundreds of citizens have contacted him too. “There is a huge morale issue and they are fearful to speak out. I will listen to them. I will value their input though the final decision is mine.”

Akins is a Certified Crime Prevention Specialist with the Roanoke City Police Department. He has 19 years experience in crime prevention and is certified in corrections, court service and civil process.

Akins duties over the years has included patrol, warrant services, forensic services, community resources, academy instruction and crime prevention. He also worked part-time with the U.S. Marshal’s Service as a contract guard for the Western District of Virginia.

He said he was approached to take on the challenge of running for office by organizations wanting to see change in the Sheriff’s Department. He first got the OK from Chief Chris Perkins who consulted with the city manager Chris Morrill. He’ll keep his job no matter the outcome of the November 5 election.

Travis Akins

Travis Akins

During his introduction to the neighborhood members Akins told them that there was a “huge difference between himself and the other two candidates for sheriff [in] philosophies and principles.”

He explained his philosophy is to keep people, especially juveniles, out of jail and to keep inmates from coming back over and over again. “There needs to be an immediate transition into the jail that’s not as warm and fuzzy as it currently is.”

Security in schools is a priority and as sheriff he said he’d have more autonomy to implement programs that would keep students safe. Akins sees the Sheriff Department lacking in its possibilities to save taxpayer dollars by using inmates to perform maintenance functions in the city.

“We hold community walks throughout the city on behalf of the Police Department. It’s very rare that we have anyone in the sheriff’s office to participate with us. It is very rare for us to even get a phone call returned from the sheriff’s office to work in conjunction with the police department.”

Travis Akins prepares to talk to members of Riverland/Walnut Hill neighbors.

Travis Akins prepares to talk to members of Riverland/Walnut Hill neighbors.

He hit a sweet spot with the neighborhood members when he promised immediate response to complaints of graffiti and trash. Inmates sitting around doing nothing “needs to stop,” said Akins.

Akins said he would “take non-violent offenders – remove them from the jail and have them assigned to deputies to cleanup your neighborhood.” He would also supplement some of the city’s workforce like assisting the Parks and Recreation Department.

 He asked where was the sheriff’s office during the derecho. With storms like that we should use inmates to help with the cleanup. Uniform police officers should not be paid to stand and watch a tree limb that has fallen across a roadway. “That’s not the best way to spend our tax dollars … he should be responding to calls for service,” said Akins.

“Somewhere along the way we have lost sight of the role of the sheriff of Roanoke.”

Providing security over the jail, providing courtroom services and serving civil process papers “is not good enough for me,” he said. “We have got to do so much more for Roanoke and take the role to the next level … work with kids and keep them out of jail and serve as security for schools.”

Later when asked about employing a Public Information Officer Akins said, “I think we can find a better way to spend tax dollars … I am perfectly capable of speaking for myself.”

When asked why he didn’t run with a party label he said, “as the Sheriff of Roanoke he or she should not be making decisions based on political affiliation … we make decisions that are not partisan for the betterment of Roanoke.”

Travis Akins is in a three-way race with Tim Allen the Democratic candidate and incumbent Republican Sheriff Octavia Johnson.

On the web: www.teamsherifftravis.com 

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Election 2013, Elections, Politics, Roanoke City Politics

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