Larry Webb, a candidate for Upshur County Sheriff in the May 29 Republican primary, told a campaign dinner rally in Gilmer Thursday night it wouldn’t be “realistic” for him to fire all of the Sheriff’s Office’s current employees upon taking office.
Some 152 persons registered at the dinner at the Yamboree Exhibit Building, though not everyone attending signed in, said Webb’s mother-in-law, Linda Charles Maberry, who registered guests.
Fielding a question from the audience about whether he plans to fire current employees, Webb said that if he dismissed every single one upon entering the office, he would immediately be on his radio working 24 hours daily, seven days a week. He said that once current workers “figure out where this ship’s going,” they can decide what to do.
Webb also said during the question-and-answer period that he has heard complaints that the office doesn’t do “follow-ups” on cases, and that “when I (a citizen) call about a case, I never get an answer.”
He said that if he is elected and a citizen receives no follow-up on a complaint, he would personally handle that procedure.
Saying the current Sheriff’s Office suffered shortfalls totalling about $700,000 on revenues from holding prisoners, and phone service for inmates, Webb also said he would work with justices of the peace and constables to increase revenue to the county by serving warrants.
Touting his 22 years in law enforcement, Webb, a longtime Longview police officer, said he was running for three reasons: to “enforce the laws fairly and equally,” to “increase your confidence in the department,” and to establish law enforcement programs “to improve the quality of life” such as a rural safety program.
He said he wanted to improve the office’s relationship with District Attorney Billy Byrd (who attended the rally) and have a relationship with all judges in the county, “not just having a relationship with one judge.”
Webb also proposed having a full-time narcotics unit solely for the county. The current Sheriff’s Office has a Drug Task Force, but it works 22 or 23 counties, he said.
“We need to worry about cleaning our own house first,” Webb said. Webb also said he wanted to build relationships with other law enforcement agencies, and improve training of deputy sheriffs. In addition, he said patrol could be stepped up without increasing the sheriff’s budget.
Before Webb spoke, he introduced Longview Police Sgt. David Hazel, an Upshur County resident who said Webb has “turned into a true leader” in the Longview Police Dept.
Hazel, who has worked for the department nearly 28 years, told anecdotes about Webb and said “I have watched right at 400 police officers go through Longview PD since I got there. . . Who would make my top 10 list (of those officers)?. . .Larry Webb would.”
He said Webb had helped institute policies and procedures for officers’ safety, and deserved “an enormous amount” of the credit for the Longview agency having one of the finest of SWAT teams.
Hazel also denied what he said was a rumor that Webb “was going to try to turn this (the Upshur Sheriff’s Office) into some big city operation.”
Opposing Webb in the May 29 primary are incumbent Anthony Betterton, Donald Willeford and Greg Mandreger.