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Police Association Endorses Challenger In Wake Sheriff Race

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Police Benevolent Association threw Wake County Sheriff John Baker a curve by endorsing his opponent.

Bureaucracy at the Wake County jail prevents police from protecting the streets, according to the Police Benevolent Association. They are endorsing Donnie Harrison, the challenger who lost to Baker by just 5 percent in 1998.

PBA members say jail employees often turn away people with minor injuries, forcing police to take them to the hospital before they are booked.

"That's tying up Wake County's law enforcement officers, sometimes for four to six hours, which means they aren't out patrolling the streets and protecting the citizens," said Jeff Fluck, of the Police Benevolent Association.

"If you bring an individual in here and that individual has been injured in any way, it's your responsibility to take that person to the hospital," Wake County Sheriff John Baker said.

Another complaint from the PBA alleges North Carolina deputies are hired and fired by the sheriff instead of the county. PBA leaders claim career deputies should have the same job protection as county employees. The association claims Baker did not make good on a promise to give it to them.

"If Sheriff Baker decides that deputy wasn't beholden to him in this political race, he could terminate him," Fluck said.

"If they want to run it, they need to go to the General Assembly and get the constitution changed, because the constitution said the sheriff and not the PBA is the chief law enforcement officer in Wake County," Baker said.

After 24 years in office, Baker said he is content to let voters decide how well he is running his department. Baker has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and the North State Law Enforcement Officer's Association.


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