Candidate 2018 profile: Charles E “Chuck” Edge

Charles E "Chuck" Edge

ELLIS COUNTY — Learn more about Charles E "Chuck" Edge in his own words as he runs for Ellis County Sheriff in the 2018 Republican primary.

Election day voting will be held on March 6, 2018 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Click here for a list of election day polling locations. Early voting will take place February 20, 2018 through March 2, 2018. Click here for a list of early voting locations and times.

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Charles E "Chuck" Edge questionnaire responses

Ellis County Citizen endorses Charles E "Chuck" Edge for Sheriff during the 2018 elections.

Ellis County Citizen endorses Charles E "Chuck" Edge for Sheriff during the 2018 elections.

1) What is your current age?

57

2) What is your city of residence?

Our address is considered Milford, but we live in rural Ellis County.

3) How many years have you lived in Ellis County?

Got here in April of 2007, so almost 11 years.

4) Tell us a little about your family.

I was born into a military family. Mom and Dad, both still living (in College Station) had five children. Three of the five of us kids from that union entered the military; I am one of those three. Kathy, my wife and love of over 36 years, and I have one son. He and his wife have two young boys.

5) Describe your education.

BS in Professional Aeronautics, MA in Public and Private Management. Graduate of the 222ND Session of the FBI National Academy, graduate of the Leadership and Command College of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.

6) What public office experience do you have?

First hired as a police officer in April of 1982. In 1986 I took a Civil Service leave of absence to join the US Army. At the end of my enlistment, I returned to my police department, Baytown PD. I remained at BPD until 2003, when I accepted the position of Chief of Police at Palestine PD. In 2007 I became the Chief of Police at Waxahachie PD. I retired from WPD in 2014. In 2015, I was appointed Interim Chief of Police for the City of Kyle. In April of 2017 I was appointed Sheriff of Ellis County. So, depending on a person's definition of public office, well over 30 years, since 2003, or since I was appointed Sheriff. Regardless of the definition, I have extensive public office experience.

7) What is your occupation?

Sheriff, Ellis County, Texas.

8) Describe your church and civic involvement.

Don't regularly attend any specific church. I was raised in a Christian home and have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He and I "speak" regularly. As a Police Chief and Sheriff, I am very involved in civic groups.

9) Please provide a biographical narrative.

Well, I think a previous question got my career information in so I won't recount that. I am a son, husband, father, grandfather, sibling, and uncle; just like so many of you. My wife, son and I owned and operated a business in Waxahachie, Shooter's Edge gun store. We run a ranch in south Ellis County. I graduated High School in San Antonio, went to Texas A&M University, met an amazing, awesome, and beautiful young lady that I married - and am still married to. I have been a Texas Peace Officer, soldier, combat veteran ... don't know what else to say.

10) What motivated your interest in running for Sheriff in Ellis County?

As previously stated, I was born in to a military family. As such, there was no place I really called home; until I got to Ellis County. With the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the previous Sheriff, I was asked by members of the community to consider coming out of retirement and consider the position of Sheriff. I did, and was selected. Since I was appointed, we have made many needed changes at the Sheriff's Office. I am running to stay in office to continue the mission and make your Sheriff's Office the best, the one you deserve and need.

11) Briefly and succinctly define the job responsibilities of the office you are seeking.

Briefly and succinctly, that's interesting. By law - operate the County jail, provide courthouse security, provide many civil law processes, animal control, and others. By history, culture and, practice, provide law enforcement responsibilities for the unincorporated areas of the County.

12) What qualifications and professional experiences do you possess that are applicable to law enforcement responsibilities the position you are seeking requires? Be specific.

As stated previously, well over 30 years of law enforcement experience, Chief of Police at three agencies, Master's degree in Public and Private Management, FBI National Academy, Leadership and Command College. I have been doing the job for almost nine months. I have extensive knowledge in managing large budgets.

13) What qualifications do you possess that will enable you to manage a budget of over $9 million for the Sheriff’s Office and over $11 million for jail operations? Be specific.

Currently working under a budget that I proposed. I have proposed and operated under multi-million-dollar budgets for over a decade.

14) Identify some areas in the sheriff’s department budget where money could be cut and others where more funding is needed.

Number 1, where budget could be cut? Nowhere. I already did that. There were areas, but I cut them. Number 2, where could there be more funding? Several, mostly in the area of personnel. The staff is underpaid and there is not enough of them. This is a topic for a whole different discussion, and would take more explanation than provided for here.

15) How has your education and professional experience prepared you for this office?

Greatly. I do believe previous questions /answers cover this.

16) Have you declared bankruptcy or have had any liens placed upon you in the past 10 years? If so, please explain.

No.

17) What distinguishes you from your opponent(s)?

Among other things, my experience and professionalism. I have led law enforcement agencies and I currently serve as the Sheriff.

18) Is there any additional training that you plan to seek to assist you in the duties of Sheriff?

I never stop training and learning.

19) How do you rate the current functioning of the Sheriff’s Office? What’s good? What’s not so good and needs improvement?

I think the current functioning of the Sheriff’s Office is good. We are addressing needs in training and equipment. We are working on standardization in our practices.

20) What are the three greatest challenges facing Ellis County related to the position you are seeking? If elected, what measures would you propose to resolve them?

1) The rapid and continuing growth of Ellis County. We are training the personnel so that we can keep up the demands placed on us as a result of that growth. We are seeking and implementing technologies and equipment that will also help in that area.

2) Personnel retention, mainly on the detention side of the Office. We have started selecting our deputies for our detention staff. Increased salaries aren’t the only factor that makes people want to stay at an organization. However, depending on how big a difference there is in the salaries of other local agencies, it makes a difference in recruiting and retention.

3) Interoperability in communications. All of the area agencies work with each other, but we can’t all talk to each other on the radios. The aging and unreliable radio system currently in place will need to be addressed. We have already started on this and have brought it to the attention of the Commissioner’s Court.

21) If elected, what are your top three priorities? How will you work with other elected officials and county staff to achieve them? Be specific.

Besides continuing what we have already started, I would say see the previous question. If I believe the three aforementioned issues are the top ones, then those will be the biggest priorities. I and the Sheriff’s Office have a good relationship with the other elected officials and County staff. We will continue to support the other departments and continue to work with them in a collaborative effort for the good of the citizens and visitors of Ellis County.

22) If elected, what is the number one change you hope to overcome in the Sheriff’s Office or jail? Please explain.

The number one thing I would change has already been done; changing the environment and atmosphere to one of trust and professionalism. Going forward, it will be standardization. Standardization in all areas, training, hiring, promoting, policies, procedures, etc.

23) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you’ve identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.

In each of my previous Police Chief positions, I was selected to handle internal issues within the department, bring the department together, and prepare it for the future. I was never asked to leave, and got great employee evaluations and raises. It is why members of the community reached out to me to consider coming out of retirement and put my name in the hat to be Sheriff.

24) What will happen to the current staff if you are elected Sheriff? Will there be sweeping changes, or will you retain people in leadership? Please explain.

The staff at the Sheriff's Office is exceptional. If elected, the staff will remain the same.

25) What is the appropriate budget size for the Sheriff’s Office and why should the current budget be cut, remain the same or increased?

In the current budget, I cut where appropriate, and added where needed. The budget can not be cut, but needs to be increased. The increases are mostly related to personnel issues. There will also be the need to fund the body cam program. We have them now at no cost, but to continue this valuable tool, there will be a cost.

26) What is the appropriate budget size for the jail and why should the current budget be cut, remain the same or increased? Please explain.

The same as the preceding question.

27) Technology is constantly changing and advancing; what technological advances would you like to introduce to the Ellis County Sheriff's Department?

We have implemented many, and upgraded some that were in place. I am interested in those that provide safety to our employees and citizens, and those that make the Office run more efficiently and effective.

28) Do you support body cameras for Sheriff’s Deputies? Please explain.

Yes. I implemented body cameras for Deputies since taking office and they are currently deployed.

29) If elected, what will you do to ensure accountability from your employees?

We are currently writing policies and procedures that address this issue. Employees will be held accountable, some already have, but I must add, the overwhelming majority of our personnel are professional, caring people. The implementation of the body cams addresses this issue, and show that our employees are being professional.

30) In 2013, some Ellis County elected officials were actively and aggressively looking into the possibility of privatizing jail operations at the Wayne McCollum Detention Center before the idea was rejected. What is your position on privatizing the county jail and what actions would you take to fulfill that position?

I do not support privatization of the county jail.

31) What resources will you use to address the mentally ill population in custody and charged with criminal offenses? What steps do you plan with mental health and alcohol and other drug abuse services?

I will utilize any and all. Understand, this is a major issue. There was a recent meeting with the County Judge, Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, the Judges, Probation Office; all of the stakeholders in the very issue. There are actually very few resources out there. We screen all inmates immediately upon their arrival at the jail. We have psychiatric and medical care on site and due to recent legislation, will be making the psychiatric care available 24/7/365.

32) When you suspect a newly admitted inmate is an undocumented immigrant, do you feel the need to report it to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement?

We fully comply with all Federal law. We will, and do, honor all ICE detainers. As far as “suspecting” someone is illegally in this country, and report them – that, is currently going through the court system and it would be imprudent of me to create any policy on that issue at this time. Also, there is a racial profiling component to this. We shouldn’t, don’t, and are prohibited from racial profiling.

33) What is your position on using inmates for labor? Please explain.

I fully support this, and we use inmate labor. It is good for all. No inmates are required to “work”, and some that want to aren’t approved to. If an inmate is sentenced to 20 days in jail, they serve 20 days. If they are willing and approved to become a “trustee” and work, they get two days for one. The inmate only serves 10 days in exchange for service, the County and citizens get the benefit of their service, and the cost to the citizens of Ellis County to house and care for the inmate is cut in half.

34) In your opinion, what are the most important qualities that a Sheriff needs to have?

Honesty, integrity, humility, compassion, decisiveness, intestinal fortitude, and a servant’s heart.

35) Where do you believe a citizen's rights come from?

The Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Texas.

36) How will you defend the right of citizens to carry firearms, as defined in the Constitution of the United States of America, and the Constitution of the State of Texas?

Vigorously. Remember, I operated a gun store.

37) What is your opinion on asset forfeiture for individuals who have not been found guilty in a court of law?

Asset forfeiture law is a civil procedure, not a criminal procedure. The burden of proof is different. To convict an individual of a crime, the State or Federal government must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil proceeding, the burden is by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, it is more likely than not that the assets were gained by illegal means. What needs to be understood is that law enforcement can seize the assets and place them in an account; but they can’t touch them. There is then an actual court hearing to determine the outcome of those seized assets. The assets are either awarded back to from whom they were seized, or to the agency seizing them; we don’t just get to say we think these are “dirty” assets, and then go spend the money.

38) Federal, state and local laws sometimes conflict with the original intent of the Constitution of the United States of America. If elected, how do you plan to enforce laws which may conflict with the Constitution of the United States of America?

That question presupposes that there are federal, state, and local laws that are in conflict. I agree there is room for discussion on that, but does state or local policy equate to law? Regardless, every time I have been sworn in as a Peace Officer or soldier of the United States Army, I swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. To this date, no one has relieved me of that oath; nor could they.

39) How can the office of Sheriff best serve the citizens of the county?

Comply with the Texas Constitutional and statutorily required duties of the office, work to provide the best law enforcement service we can, and be good stewards of the public dollars entrusted to us.

40) What is your opinion on local law enforcement agencies employing military style training, equipment and tactics?

Folks, the times are changing. I don’t like the “militarization” of our local law enforcement. But I support every officer going home safe at the end of their shift, and in the world we live in, certain changes are necessary. Law enforcement is being asked to do more than ever before. The element we are now facing uses the tactics, training, and equipment likened to a military unit. It is only prudent that the first line of defense against them do the same. The U.S. Military doesn’t answer 9-1-1 calls, your local law enforcement does.

41) If elected, how will you foster an environment that ensures fair treatment of all people that are served by the Ellis County Sheriff's Office? Please provide an example.

“No man is above the law, and no man is beneath it. Nor will we ask any man’s permission when we require him to obey it.” Theodore Roosevelt. We will enforce the law equally, and therefore, fairly. Again, I feel that this question has a pre- supposition; that there has been unequal treatment by the ECSO.

How do we address this? By policy. This will not be tolerated.

Provide an example. Ever been stopped by the police for something you actually did, and got a warning? Ever been stopped by the police for something you actually did and got a ticket? Explain to me the difference in which one was fair.

42) If elected, how would you reach out and form relationships with residents of Ellis County and how would you reach out to those residents in the outlying areas of the county?

The same way I always have. We can’t do it by ourselves, most folks understand that. That puts us on common ground, and opens the channel for dialog. Me and my family live in the outlying areas of the County; I think I can handle that.

43) If elected, what are the factors on which you will base your decisions as Sheriff?

Experience, training, education, and of course, the last almost nine months of being the Sheriff.

44) Why should voters choose you?

I have the experience, credentials, training, knowledge, and proven history, of leading law enforcement agencies. My opponent, by all accounts, is a likeable man, but regarding his credentials, he can’t say the same. He has never led a law enforcement agency. Given the growth that blesses Ellis County, experience will be needed, and experience matters.