A former NFL player, businessman and sheriff’s deputy wants to be York County’s top law enforcement officer.
Michael Scurlock Jr. is running for York County sheriff after Sheriff Bruce Bryant announced earlier this month he will not seek re-election.
Kevin Tolson, an investigator with the 16th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, is also running for sheriff.
Scurlock, who graduated in 1995 from the University of Arizona, spent several years in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams and finished his career with the Carolina Panthers.
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He said law enforcement was something he wanted to do even when he was playing football.
“I’ve grown up, pretty much my whole life, in law enforcement. It’s been in our family; it’s been in my blood,” Scurlock said.
Scurlock coached high school football in Rock Hill and co-owned a business in Charlotte from 2001 to 2008. Walking in on a burglar in his family’s home in 2008, he said, was the reason he joined the York County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy, and later a full-time officer.
Scurlock has been a deputy, public information officer and crime prevention officer in the sheriff’s office.
He helped start “The Choice is Yours,” an outreach program for at-risk youth that partners with youth pastors, community members, businesses, current and former NFL players, and volunteers.
Scurlock resigned from the sheriff’s office two years ago after telling Bryant he was eventually going to run for sheriff. He is running as an independent, saying he’s never understood why fighting crime has to be a partisan issue.
The man who broke into his family’s home “didn’t care if I was black, he didn’t care if I was white, he didn’t care if I was purple, he didn’t care if I was Democrat, he didn’t care if I was Republican,” Scurlock said. “All he had was an agenda.”
Scurlock said he plans to focus on promoting growth and opportunities in the sheriff’s office by restructuring the agency’s TERI program. When the sheriff’s office adopted the retention program in 2001, Scurlock said, individuals could stay on as employees for up to five years.
Now, some are staying on as employees for more than 15 years, which Scurlock said leads to complacency in the upper-level positions from people who have “already checked out.” It also leads to high turnover in lower-level positions, Scurlock said.
“When the turnover rate is such a high rate with the deputies, it puts the community at risk,” he said. “Why hasn’t there been any change in the upper management?”
Scurlock said he wants to increase the number of deputies on patrol, collaborate more with other police agencies, and improve race relations between law enforcement and the community. He said it’s possible for people who disagree to still get along and work together, recalling an encounter he had with a member of the Ku Klux Klan as a deputy.
“He and I had a great conversation,” he said. “One thing he told me, he said, ‘You know, you’re always welcome here.’ That kind of felt good; he may have stood for something, but that was who I was and that’s who he was. We all have differences, but as long as we don’t break the law, then it’s OK.”
Scurlock said people often question his qualifications for the job. He said he not only meets, but exceeds, the state’s requirements to be sheriff.
“If you want to compare resumes, you can’t compare,” he said. “You just can’t compare. But if you want to have someone in a position that wants to make a change, that is the person – I’m the person – who needs to be in the position.”
He has filed to run and is collecting signatures to put his name on the ballot. Residents can visit his website, www.scurlockforsheriff.com, to print a form.