Royal Talks Vision for Screven County Sheriff’s Office

Screven county native Norman Royal’s career in public safety dates back to 1997 when he started as a firefighter in Sylvania, but it was 2009 when he went to the police academy. His plan was to become POST-certified and return to the fire department, working part-time with the police department. When a position opened up in the PD, however, Royal decided to make a move. 

He began working patrol, rose to a supervisory position on his shift, and ultimately moved to investigations where he holds the rank of Sergeant. With the Sylvania Police Department, Royal says he works as second in command, acting in the leadership role when Chief Burke is out. He also assists with hiring and internal affairs, works as the evidence custodian, and helps prepare cases to be turned over to the district attorney’s office. More recently, he worked to help Sylvania PD obtain a grant for thirteen Flock cameras for a period of four years at no cost to the city.

Royal says running for Sheriff has been a dream of his since before he got into law enforcement.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved helping people. That’s why I got into public safety. On top of that, I feel like my attitude and the way I do things can change people’s perception of the police. With the trust I’ve built in the community I already work in, I want to take it to a higher level and expand beyond the city limits of Sylvania.”

“I feel like I’ve already made a positive change, with the help of others, in Sylvania and see what’s going on in Screven County, we cannot afford to keep going down the path we’re on right now. We’re already behind surrounding counties.”

Technology and Resources 

Royal said he’s young and open-minded to technology and the way law enforcement is evolving, which he also believes will help Screven county. He belabored the importance of giving deputies the tools they need on the road to help them do their jobs. “Sometimes a dispatcher may be tied up and you need information right then. A computer can help them.”

While he said will have no qualms about advocating to county commissioners for necessary items, Royal said the Sheriff’s Office has a lengthy list of needs, which may mean a few years could pass before the office is fully up to date.

Employees

Currently, the office has four full-time deputies, which Royal said needs to change as soon as possible. Having only one deputy on the road during a shift, he said, is dangerous and does not provide the needed level of service. The office has had two open deputies positions for some time, which Royal said could be remedied with better leadership. Pay, of course, will also be a priority for Royal, but he said he knows Screven County’s tax base is limited and salaries will always be trumped by larger agencies. Nevertheless, the right working environment and a proactive agency would draw people in, he says.

If elected, Royal says he would divide the county into zones and work to get three deputies on a shift at a time, one of which is a supervisor who can float between zones. He’d also like to see a closer working relationship with the cities to coordinate coverage, if and when it’s needed.

Ramping Up Investigations

Royal wants a dedicated drug investigator, which will relieve the current investigator from having to cover every incident type 100% of the time. “There is a drug problem everywhere and Screven County is not immune to that.

To that end, he referenced his own work in the City of Sylvania over the last few years. 

“Since becoming an investigator, I have worked other agencies on intel in drug investigations in the city limits, leading to the arrest of six or seven well-known, heavy drug dealers which resulted in a conviction. I personally handled the cases, made an arrest, got a conviction, seized property from money to guns to cars. Is six or seven a lot? Not for the region, but for our city, that’s a lot and led to the arrest of smaller scale dealers as well.” He said the efforts have drastically reduced the amount of illicit drugs within the city limits and he’d like to see the same initiative in the Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve cleaned up and I’m proud of that,” he said.

Transparency & Accessibility

“The community wants to know what’s going on, so I believe in having someone to stay on top of social media and getting information out there as soon as possible,” Royal said. While having a full-time public information officer may not be feasible, he said he would at least like to assign routine social media responsibilities to someone in the office to make sure information is routinely getting out to the public.

Jail
Consolidation of 911 & Dispatch

Royal says his first priority as it pertains to the jail is to eliminate dispatch duties at the Sheriff’s Office. Currently, when someone calls 911, a dispatcher dispatches another dispatcher at the Sheriff’s Office and that second dispatcher dispatches a deputy. Royal said the system not only doubles up on employees, but also leaves more room for miscommunication or information lost from caller to deputy. 

Within the Sheriff’s Office, those dispatch duties are being handled by jailers, meaning they’re multitasking beyond what is reasonable. 

To that end, he said the jail would benefit from an additional employee. 

Maintenance & Upkeep

There are a number of things Royal wants to see brought up to date as it pertains to the jail. 

“The jail has not been maintained the way it needs to be maintained for many years. I know personally because I’ve been back there to help them. There are issues with doors, security, and the just the overall 

He said housing federal inmates could be a way to bring in funding, but it’s putting the cart before the horse with all that needs to be done. The inspections required to house those inmates could lead to millions of dollars in upgrades and maintenance, which Royal says may not be available right away. 

“I know there are grants available to possibly help us get it where it needs to be, and then keep it where it needs to be, and I want to look into all of those options,” Royal said.

The County Courthouse

Every sheriff in Georgia is constitutionally required to secure the courthouse in the county in which they serve. Royal said he recognizes the need to have a deputy placed there at all times, but first has to find deputies to hire. He said the long-term goal is to have someone serving courthouse duty, but in the short term, he would try to put road deputies at the courthouse at alternating times, at least when court is in session. 

As A Qualified Candidate

Royal told TGV that he believes his advantage over others running include his continued service in law enforcement and his experience in working different levels of an agency.

“I’ve had no lapse in my training and my experience. I’m currently up to date on the new laws. My understanding is my opponent has been out of it for ten years or so. Also, I started at the bottom and made myself to where I’m at now. I have the experience to do the job as far as ‘hands on’ experience, but my training, supervisory skills, and my leadership skills – I have all of those. And that’s the job of a Sheriff.”

Follow Norman Royal’s campaign on Facebook.

Royal is running on the Republican ticket and will face Bruce Rowell in the primary election. The winner of that race will face Democrat Incumbent Mike Kile in November.

Early voting begins April 29 and runs through May 17 at the Screven County Board of Elections at the county courthouse building. Election Day is May 21.

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and co-creator of of the Peabody Award-nominated podcast 'Prison Town.'

Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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