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Clark announces re-election bid

South Boston News
Clark / March 28, 2019
Sheriff Fred S. Clark announced on Monday that he will seek a third term in office in the Nov. 5 general election.

Clark previously qualified for the November ballot, setting up competition in the election for Sheriff. A challenger, John Tanner, also has qualified to have his name placed on ballot with the June 11 filing deadline still months away.

In announcing his re-election campaign, Clark said, “My focus has not changed. I am determined to build on the success we have had over the course of my first two terms as sheriff, enhancing our efforts in fostering even stronger community relations as well as strengthening many of our pro-active law enforcement programs.

“For nearly 40 years, I have lived my life in service to Halifax County and its citizens,” Clark continued. “I have not wavered in my love and devotion to my community and cherish the relationships my family and I have enjoyed with people from all walks of life.”

According to Clark, the duties of the office of sheriff sometimes may require “rock-solid resolve under intense pressure and scrutiny, unwavering courage in life and death situations and heartfelt compassion and empathy in the midst of untenable, and often horrific, situations.

“Four decades of public service in our county has afforded me the knowledge and discernment needed to safely and efficiently serve and protect the citizens of Halifax County.”

Clark’s public service began at the age of 16 when he joined the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department (LVFD) as a junior fireman. Clark served 15 years as LVFD treasurer and has been on the board of trustees for the past 14 years.

Clark served Halifax County as a jail officer and deputy sheriff for a period of nine years and then transitioned to the private sector where he and his wife, Beverly, ran a successful country store for more than 16 years.

During this time, Clark again served the county as a magistrate for the Supreme Court of Virginia for a period of eight years.

Clark currently serves on several boards, including the Mentor Role Model Program, the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, the Averett University Criminal Justice Advisory Board, Community Criminal Justice Board and the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) Board.

He is active with numerous other civic and community organizations. On the state level, he currently serves as the treasurer of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association.

Fred and Beverly Clark have three sons, Cullen, Sam and Isaac, and have been married for 31 years. They live in the Liberty community and attend Catawba Baptist Church, where he serves as a deacon.

Determined to improve public perception shortly after taking office in 2012, Clark took the steps he deemed necessary to establish a Sheriff’s Office committed to professionalism and community involvement, dedicated to serving county citizens.

“Restoring the community’s faith in local law enforcement became paramount in our efforts on a daily basis. My office prides itself on being transparent, accessible and accountable to all of the citizens we serve. I have an ‘open door policy’ and welcome input from the community. Working together, we can make Halifax County a much better and safer place to raise our kids and prosper as a diverse community,” he said.

Clark credits much of his office’s success to the men and women who proudly and professionally serve county citizens. “Each deputy and investigators dedication and commitment to the community is second to none, and I am proud to serve along beside them.

“We have focused much of our effort on providing the equipment and training our deputies and investigators require to perform at the highest level of proficiency, sending more officers to specialized training than any previous administrations.”

During Clark’s tenure, the Sheriff’s Office has re-established the Community Watch Program, as well as a Church Security Program, which provide safety programs to local neighborhoods and churches, addressing personal safety, basic home and church security, along with identity theft protection and scam prevention.

Utilizing grant funding and community donations, Clark has been able to secure a full-time school resource officer at Halifax County Middle School, as well as recently adding a second narcotics canine to further assist in aiding drug interdiction and enforcement efforts throughout the county.

Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office implemented a School Check Program in which a uniformed deputy randomly visits a county elementary school, connecting with the faculty and staff in an effort to bring an overall sense of security and to familiarize deputies with how each school is configured in the event of an emergency.

A Business Check Program also has been integrated into nightly patrols throughout the county with deputies routinely completing security checks during their evening shifts.

As a member of Blue Ridge Thunder, a computer crimes task force with national exposure, the sheriff’s office is able to participate in a specialized computer crimes unit that targets child predators and child pornography.

“In an era in which we have seen social media grow exponentially, law enforcement must make every effort to protect our young people from these internet-based criminal elements of our society,” Clark said.

Most recently, Clark said the Sheriff’s Office has opened two satellite offices — one in the northern part of the county at North Halifax Fire Department and the other on the southern end of the county at the old Chandler’s One Stop building in Virgilina.

While not open around the clock, deputies are able to meet with citizens, upon request, to discuss any complaints or concerns they might have, without having to take the time to travel to the sheriff’s office in Halifax, he said.

“If you are unable, or reluctant, to come to us, we will gladly meet you at a satellite location,” he added.

“One of the most important aspects of any successful law enforcement agency is community involvement and community policing. Our community — every man, woman and child — must feel included in our mission to protect and serve. With that goal as a catalyst, the sheriff’s office has played a pivotal role in promoting National Night Out, with attendance approaching 2,000 in the last few years,” Clark said.

“The Law Enforcement Easter Egg Hunt, a partnership with other agencies, civic groups and community organizations, provides an opportunity for young people to interact with police officers in a fun and positive environment,” said Clark.

“Our Stuff the Cruiser Program, a joint effort with the Department of Social Services and the many citizens who so graciously and willingly donate toys, ensures that no child-in-need will be without a gift at Christmas each year,” he added.

And he noted the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Youth Camp held in June helps teach the youth about Law Enforcement, EMS, Fire and Rescue. The weeklong day camp was created for the purpose of providing a fun, enriching, educational introduction to the world of public safety, where the youth will have the opportunity to explore potential career options while learning lifesaving skills.

“Our partnerships with state and local police agencies are the strongest they have been in the last 25 years,” according to the sheriff.

“Our drug task force works diligently to rid our streets and neighborhoods of users, dealers as well as drug kingpins, but most efforts have to start at the street level dealer. As much as we would like to start at the top of any criminal organization, our energies initially focus on street level dealers with hopes the investigation will lead to the arrest of their sources. Unfortunately, some of our youth are being introduced to drugs by street level dealers,” the sheriff said noting that street level dealers are the primary distributors of drugs circulating in the county.

He pointed out recent arrests of individuals transporting narcotics from other jurisdictions are indicative of the flow of illegal narcotics into our county.

“Task force officers are continuously working with local law enforcement agencies and neighboring jurisdictions to help combat the war on drugs, and my office is committed to do whatever it takes to make a positive and profound public safety difference in Halifax County and the towns within her boundaries,” said Clark.

As two-term incumbent, Clark said he pledges to continue doing everything possible, within his authority as county sheriff to provide the highest level of professionalism and law enforcement services to the citizens he is sworn to protect and serve.

“I will continue to be a visible and accessible sheriff, and I humbly ask for your vote on November 5. Thank you, and God bless you and your family,” concluded Clark.

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