Franklin County Needs A New Sheriff

frc1Is it time for a change in the Franklin County Sheriff’s department?    

While Sheriff Bill Overton has, on the surface, made some significant changes in the daily operations of the department,  without some background information, one might think he has done a fabulous job and deserves another term in office.

In all fairness, Overton did bring the Sheriff’s department into the 21st century with state accreditation. And yes, it is true that he created a Citizens on Patrol Service to help monitor activity in the county using non-police volunteers, and worked toward much-needed security updates at the Sheriff’s department and courthouse. And while he is credited with the reintroduction of the Smith Mountain Lake Patrol Boat Unit, it is only fair to mention that this came about because of the support and donations of citizens at the lake and through the generous donation of a boat from the 4-H.

While rarely mentioned, it is also only fair to give credit to Overton for the first time introduction of police radar, or as county residents like to call it, “RADAR for REVENUE.”  Overton claims it is being used to “assist the State Police” so they will have more time to patrol main roads like 220 however, if that was the real purpose, why are State Police still patrolling the counties’ back roads and setting up radar, just like the Sheriff’s department? Perhaps that question can best be answered by Sgt. Mike Bailey of the State Police who was more than willing to admit that the traffic stops were being used “as probable cause to further other investigations, including narcotics.”  

It is also only appropriate to credit Overton with wasting county money to purchase unneeded new uniforms, and changing the sheriff’s logos and badges. The logo which now appears on all deputies’ cars is a 7 point star that in itself violates the Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-1610(b) which reads that “all marked motor vehicles used by sheriffs’ offices….with a reflectorized gold, five point star on each front side door. Wonder how much it cost to redo all the department vehicles and for what purpose?

Overton is nothing if not generous with his friends. In addition to taking business away from previous county approved establishments and giving it to his supporters, according to an article in the Franklin News Post, we know that after taking office, Overton hired his former campaign manager, at a salary greater than some of his sworn lieutenants, and provided him with a vehicle to drive. We also learned that in 2014, while the Board of Supervisors was contemplating raising our real estate taxes to cover budget shortages, one of Franklin County’s deputies was in Richmond training to ride a motorcycle that Overton had purchased and outfitted at significant expense.  While motorcycles are useful for dignitary escort, parades and traffic investigations, I seriously doubt the Queen of England plans to visit our little slice of heaven. Our community is small enough not to need a motorcycle escort at parades and come to think of it, the Sheriff’s office doesn’t even investigate traffic accidents.

When Overton approached the Board in 2014 for an additional $150,000 to cover unforeseen “projects,” projects that I assume covered the unneeded motorcycle and deputy training, among others, he explained he had cut spending in his department to the bone by cutting overtime, comp time and making certain that none of the part-timers worked more than 29 hours. It seems apparent, at least to me, that serving his ego is of more importance than the actual employees who serve and protect the community, or the county residents who pay the taxes to support the county.   

During his first campaign Overton promised voters that he would be a Sheriff for “we the people,” his door would always be open and he would always be as close as the nearest phone any time anyone needed him or just wanted to talk. Widely known in the county as the ABSENT SHERIFF, Overton relocated his office from the first floor to the third floor and instituted a new phone policy shortly after taking office.  All nonemergency calls to the department are now screened on an answering machine.  And the criteria for call-backs must be pretty strict  because several acquaintances are still waiting for it to happen.

In a letter to the Smith Mountain Lake Eagle paper, a Moneta resident remind us that there are also numerous outstanding issues that the public has questions about, questions that Sheriff Overton has no answers for, such as the mysterious death and disappearances of people who had cooperated with the department as drug informants or why Overton has allowed these cases to go cold. There are also unanswered questions about key evidence being presented to the sheriff’s office with regard to these cases and whether or not it was handled properly under State and Federal Law guidelines.  

Overton promised, after asking  Riley Hodges to resign from his job after 17 years of service to the county, that he and Riley would run a clean campaign for sheriff. Franklin County is such a small community, if you scratch deep enough you’ll find a distant cousin, so it should come as no surprise that word gets around quickly. In addition to the “rumors”  already circulating throughout the county that Overton’s campaign is attempting to discredit Hodges’ service as a deputy, and applying pressure to local businesses not to provide any support to his campaign,  it is a known fact that Hodges’ campaign signs are mysteriously disappearing from yards and reappearing in dumpsters.  

Everyone in the county knew and respected Sheriff Quincy Overton and for that reason Bill Overton was given a chance. But it is apparent that he is not, nor will he ever be his dad. And voting for someone on the basis of his  last name or family affiliation isn’t a good enough reason to give him another 4 years. After all, to quote Overton himself, “My heart is not in law enforcement.”

Franklin County needs a Sheriff who cares about people, not image.  A Sheriff who will work with the people, not against them.  While this website is not endorsing anyone,  I believe J. Riley Hodges is that person.  And if you agree, please get out and vote this November! 

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10 comments for “Franklin County Needs A New Sheriff

  1. Ginger
    August 25, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Thank you for this informative article.

  2. Marisa
    August 25, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    My family would like to get involved with the Franklin Country Patriots and would like to know who to contact. Thank you.

  3. Brenda
    August 25, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I doubt that Sheriff Bill Overton was elected because of his father. If that be the case, then what happened the 4 years immediately after Quincy Overton left office? I’ll tell you what happened…our county fell into the hands of an inept man named Ewell Hunt, and spiraled downhill the 4 years that there was not an Overton in office. Drugs, gangs, and mayhem overtook this once quiet little town. Yes, our Sheriff has made changes, but they are for the benefit of each and every citizen of Franklin County. Are we expected to be the last county in the state to upgrade? Are we going to put our Sheriff under a microscope because of much needed change? I don’t fret when my tax dollars are spent to ensure the safety and well being of my family are in question. I had much rather those dollars go toward my protection, than for a thug to kick my door open and steal my money from me. As far as the new badges…..Franklin County is not the only county in Virginia that has them. Gloucester County Va, has the same badge. As far as him being labeled the absent Sheriff is a load of poppycock. I have made calls and had them returned by the Sheriff. I have made 2 different appointments, and have sat and talked at length with the Sheriff. There is always a nasty mouth running and telling tall tales when a man or woman tries to live a good honest life, and yes, our Sheriff is an honest, God fearing man with morals. Integrity is just about the only word needed when speaking of Sheriff Bill Overton.

  4. Rretta
    August 25, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Note: The wasteful spending mentioned in the article did not in any way go toward the protection of county residents, unless you feel that new uniforms and fancy 7 point stars will dazzle criminals into good behavor. And as for the “rumors” – the owners of the businesses that were intimidated are also moral upstanding, law abiding, Christian, Church-going individuals. Overton must be elated to have you on his reelection team.

  5. dede
    August 25, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    I agree we need a new sheriff. Unlike Brenda, I haven’t been fortunate enough to have the sheriff sit down with me for long talks or even return a much needed and awaited phone call. I was however Promised by our sheriff that he would look into a serious situation and would get back to me. I never heard another word from him. This in itself speaks volumes about Overton. He LIED to me. He cared nothing about my problem. He simply dismissed it. If you can’t depend on or believe your sheriff’s own words, this is a sheriff who needs replacing.

    A sheriff’s duty is to all of the citizens. Not just a select few. And yes, there are those with a nasty mouth who spread rumors such as the ones I’ve heard spread about Hodges.

    This election is not about upgrades, nor is it about a previous sheriff. This is about out-of-control wasteful spending and operating within a given budget which Overton has a problem doing. And I might add, like our previous sheriff, Overton has also shown privilege and favoritism within the sheriff’s department for his campaign manager.

    I happen to know both Overton and Hodges and I too am one of God’s children.

  6. david dillon
    August 25, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    so far as I see sheriff overton has taken a dept that was on the verge of a disgrace because the previous sheriff couldn’t control his deputies,drugs,murderers..the reason we have radar in this county is we needed it the speed limit in Westlake area and highway 220 is a joke.Bill overton is a caring man,he is often seen at functions throughout this county smiling shaking hands so do his for the spending nothing is free…it costs money to protect and serve.He has brought this county into the 21 century.

  7. A Patriot
    August 26, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    For what it’s worth, here’s my 2 cents.
    I too have called the sheriff’s department not once but 4 times leaving a brief message asking for the sheriff or someone to call me. My call was never returned. I can only assume the sheriff’s department thinks I am insignificant.
    I thought maybe it was just me but since then I have had several others say they have experience the same thing.
    Before Overton took office there was a human being manning the phone who would direct you to the proper department or if need be a deputy would return your call.
    If this is part of bringing the sheriff’s department into the 21st century, we’re all on our own.

  8. Greg
    August 26, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I assume that every one that bashes Overton couldn’t have EVER made a mistake, and oviously they have never paid attention to EVERYONE who takes office… Here a news flash they all bring in the staff they want. From our sorry excuse of a President to our local government.

    Know I’m not saying the current sheriff is perfect, but who is. Everyone has skeletons in their closet and yes I mean everyone, even Hodges. No one is perfect. Overton has done a lot for this county. Crime in down, the roads are safer, he has started a lot of great programs this county needed. He has done a good job thus far and at least deserves another 4 years to prove his worth.

  9. Rretta
    August 27, 2015 at 9:39 am

    You’re absolutely right, there was only one man who walked on water and it wasn’t Overton or Hodges. But, when did we, as a nation, get to the point where we are willing to accept that just because every politician does it, it’s okay to lie to get elected, it’s okay to waste hard earned taxpayer money, and it’s okay to play dirty to get reelected? From the time I was small my dad beat into my head that I was only as good as my word and that I should never settle for less from those in my life, including politicians. Accepting less is exactly why the country is in the shape it’s in.

  10. EJ
    November 2, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Is vitally important that a sheriff be accessible to the people he is supposed to represent. When I lived in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, our sheriff was accessible even though he was going through cancer treatment. He came out for a sit down meeting with a group of us that were concerned about potential Federal gun enforcements. This is what a sheriff is supposed to do.

    People need to keep in mind that a sheriff is your first, and possibly your only, defense to your constitutional rights. The Supreme Court has ruled that their authority supersedes that of federal agents, because they are directly voted by the people of the county and not appointed. Voting on your share is more important than voting for a congressional or presidential position.

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