Local Politics

Opponent says Durham County sheriff out of touch

Posted October 19, 2010 4:42 p.m. EDT
Updated October 19, 2010 6:48 p.m. EDT

— Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill's name has become almost synonymous with his office, but his opponent in the upcoming election says Hill's long stretch of service makes his training dated.

Hill, a Democrat, has been sheriff for 16 years, and he worked for the Durham Police Department for about 30 years before that.

"I've done it all. Every division, every bureau, I've been in charge of it," he said Tuesday.

Roy Taylor, a Republican, said that he also has extensive law enforcement experience with a number of agencies, from the Cary Police Department to the Wake County Sheriff's Office to the North Carolina Army National Guard. He also has headed the Capitol Special Police, which provides security services for hire, since 2002.

"People criticize me because I have moved around a lot, but I would actually criticize the sheriff," Taylor said. "The sheriff would have been educated back in the '60s in his law enforcement career. He's been in law enforcement 46 years, and just like your first computer, it's got a life expectancy."

Hill called Taylor's argument "political rhetoric" and added that he intends to reinstate programs lost to recent budget cuts, such as efforts to reduce truancy, help the elderly and focus on juvenile probation.

"To do the things that we need to do, you need the resources to do them," he said.

Taylor said he wants to take the sheriff's office in a new direction and focus on helping inmates become productive members of society. He said he believes he can run the office without asking for more money from the Durham County Board of Commissioners.

"If I'm able to operate a police department at profit, I certainly can do it with government resources," he said.

Some voters have signed a petition challenging Taylor's eligibility to run for sheriff, citing a rule that a candidate must live in the district a year before the election.

Taylor said he has lived in Durham County for 10 years but moved to Wake County for a few months because of a divorce.

If he defeats Hill on Nov. 2, the county elections board will hold a hearing on the residency issue.