By Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor
(June 8, 2018) If school security is a campaign issue this election cycle, and according to the candidates it is, then Matt Crisafulli, candidate for Worcester County Sheriff, thinks he is the most qualified for the position.
Crisafulli, who filed for the office on the first day it was legally allowable to do so in February 2017, has been teaching the schools’ Drug Abuse Resistance Education classes since 2005, has been at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office for 19 years, and a law enforcement officer for 23 years.
“I helped form the school security division. I feel I know the teachers and administrators, and I’ve been endorsed by the teachers, current Sheriff Reggie Mason and former Sheriff Chuck Martin,” Crisafulli said. “I filed on the first day to show my dedication to the position.”
Crisafulli said his experience in the schools and his dedication to making the future brighter is what has been driving his campaign for more than a year.
“We need to make tomorrow better than today, and we’re always able to make improvements,” he said. “I want to use my experience to make Worcester County the safest place to live, work and do business.”
And for Matt Crisafulli, that starts at the schools.
“I’m concerned about school violence — it scares me. I want to make sure our children are protected,” he said. “Our children can’t learn as efficiently if there’s fear in the school.”
To combat that fear, he suggests more officers.
“I want to ensure all schools are protected by a full-time deputy. Every school would have a marked police car within view,” he said. “It’s not going to alleviate the problem but it will act as a deterrent.”
By getting more training for deputies and with the blessing of school administrators, he said he would like to transition the deputies patrolling the local public schools to school resource officers who are more involved in mentoring and developing educational curricula rather than providing criminal enforcement.
“Facilitating the education process builds trust,” he said. “The officers would still have criminal investigative functions, but we could get more out of them.”
Crisafulli is a big proponent of the community policing paradigm, which allows officers to be more directly involved with the community and to patrol certain areas to encourage familiarity with the residents and engage in community activities.
“I want to establish a citizen academy for adults and an explorer post for young adults and teens so they get to know the role of a deputy, and a summer program for kids,” he said.
By measuring and monitoring areas of known criminal activity, Crisafulli said he would be able to determine where quality of life issues exist, and formulate plans to counteract them.
“I’m all about partnerships with the community,” Crisafulli said. “As a leader, I’ll need to take a step back and figure out where the money is being spent, and redeploy assets as necessary.”
By shuffling existing assets under an existing budget, Crisafulli said he could maximize the efficiency in the office, which means a good working relationship with the county.
“With the county commissioners, it all goes back to communication,” he said.
He hopes that communication will help alleviate another big problem in the nation and in Worcester.
“The opioid epidemic is a national problem — no place is safe. I want to ensure education, prevention and strict punishments for peddlers of this poison,” he said.
From there, it’s just a matter of filling in the cracks.
“There’s no job description for a law enforcement officer. The more we can do the better for our agency and improve the county’s quality of life. You can never do too much, and nothing is guaranteed,” he said. “Under my leadership, you can expect teamwork in the schools, agencies and allied police. It will be a huge team effort under my leadership.”