James Flowers is challenging Richland Sheriff Leon Lott in the June 14 Democratic primary. No Republicans filed, so the primary victor is virtually assured of election. The State’s editorial board sent questionnaires to both candidates.
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Political party: Democratic Party
Position you are seeking: Sheriff of Richland County, SC
Number of years living in the district you seek to represent: 25 years
Family (name of spouse, number and ages of children if at home, number of grown children): My wife’s name is Treneice Flowers and we have five year old twins.
Education: I graduated in 1997 from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. I completed the Masters of Criminal Justice Program at Troy University in Sumter, SC in 2013.
Current occupation/employer: I own Endurance Level, Inc., a law enforcement consulting and investigative firm. Also, I am the co-owner of Calypso Food Services in Orangeburg, SC.
Employment, military and volunteer history:
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, I embarked on an eighteen-year career in state law enforcement with the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). My career began as a Probation and Parole Agent, until I was promoted to Community Policing Coordinator for the statewide Probation and Parole Agency. In addition, I served as Captain of the Special Operations Response Team. I also coordinated statewide fugitive investigations and I was a member of the U. S. Marshal’s "Operation Intercept" Fugitive Task Force.
After leaving the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, I became a Homeland Security planner at SLED. I then moved into criminal investigations where I investigated major crimes such as officer-involved shootings and governmental corruption. I was a member of the SLED S.W.A.T. Team and the FBI Violent Crime Task Force. I was also assigned to the U.S. Secret Service protection detail for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. In addition, I am certified through the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy as a firearms and tactical driving instructor, training SLED agents and basic law enforcement cadets.
Please list all public offices to which you’ve been elected, when and where:
I have never been elected to public office.
Please list year and office of any unsuccessful runs for public office:
I have never been a candidate for public office.
Other political and government experience:
Key endorsements you’ve received:
I plan to release a list of endorsements at a future date.
Please limit your response to each of the following questions to about 100 words.
What makes you the most qualified person to hold this position? (Be specific.)
My entire eighteen year law enforcement career has been at the state law enforcement level. I have worked with multiple local, state, and federal agencies and law enforcement leaders in South Carolina. I have established relationships with these agencies and leaders which has provided me with specific experience and skills to serve as sheriff of a large county which encompasses our state’s capital. I understand the need for partnering and sharing among agencies to bring additional information and resources to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in order to prevent and solve crimes.
In addition, I have the hands on experience as a veteran law enforcement agent. I have conducted numerous officer-involved shooting investigations and major crimes such as public corruption, murder, sexual assault and other crimes. I have served on the FBI Violent Crime Task Force and the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force. I was a member of the SLED S.W.A.T. Team and I was assigned to the U.S. Secret Service protection detail for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. Furthermore, I have been a firearms and driving instructor for more than fifteen years for the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
What will be your top three priorities if you are elected? (100 words for each issue)
1-I will rebuild the trust and relationship between the public and law enforcement. I will ensure that the Richland County Sheriff’s Department enforces the laws equally and fairly throughout every part of our county. I will change the culture of the sheriff’s department by setting the tone of service and protection.
2-I will bring transparency, honesty and integrity to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department by calling for outside review of internal criminal issues. Specifically, I will refer for outside review all officer-involved shootings and questionable actions by deputies and staff. In addition, I will share with the public accurate crime statistics.
3-I will end the isolationist mentality of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department by reaching out to other agencies and to the community to build relationships and alliances. I will implement true community policing with every deputy and unit of the department in all areas of our county.
3a. For non-incumbents: How would your approach to your job differ from the incumbent’s?
I am sincere in my desire to protect all citizens of Richland County. I will end the practice of pre-textual stops and over policing of black, brown, and poor communities. I will have a strategic plan for the unique public safety concerns in the rural, downtown and suburban parts of our county. I will focus department resources on crime prevention and not duplicative services and militarize equipment i.e. airplanes, helicopters and tanks. I will share information with the public through press conferences when it is directly related to public safety or of wide scale interest and not for political or personal promotion.
4. Describe at least one significant political position you hold that would clash with your political base.
Politics have no place in public safety. I do not base public safety decisions on politics.
5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime, been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics complaint filed against you? If so, please give the details. No
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details. No
7. Are there any personal details about you that voters would be interested in knowing?
I was a football player for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. Also, I have been a professional competitor in Golf Long Drive competitions. I am a member of Brookland Baptist Church.