Sheriff answers the tough questions
Monday, March 04, 2013 9:00 PM
Recently, I had a chance to sit down with Montgomery County Sheriff Mark Casteel.
I have to admit I was disappointed.
Do you watch Moonshiners on one of the History channels? (If my wife is reading this, she's cringing about now.) I hate to say it, but I'm a faithful follower of Tickle, Jim Tom and the whole crew. If you haven't seen the show it's a mix between a documentary, a reality show and a WWE production. Unseen camera crews follow some good ol' boys out in the hills and hollers of the Carolinas while they manufacture moonshine. I can't tell you why, but the show's got me hooked.
So I asked Sheriff Casteel if we might have any moonshiners right here in Montgomery County.
He looked at me for a long time.
Fortunately, he didn't toss me out of his office at that point, so we spent a little time talking about his time as a first-term sheriff, the state of Montgomery County crime and a few other things. Here are some of the takeaways.
On what kind of crime is most prevalent here.
"We talked about this quite a bit and most of it is drug and alcohol related. We have property crime and we have fraud type of crimes. Domestic violence is a big issue as well and I don't want to discount that. A lot of times though, the (property and fraud) crimes are related to the first."
On the growth of meth throughout the entire country.
"Montgomery County ranked 21st in the state in meth labs. We used to be No. 1. We are very aggressive in this area. We have very well-trained police officers and they know what to look for."
To be fair to Casteel and all law enforcement in the county, their aggressive posture probably skews the statistics a bit. If they weren't as aggressive, they wouldn't find as many meth labs, from trash labs on the side of the road to sophisticated set-ups. But if they weren't that aggressive, Montgomery County would likely rank much lower in how many meth labs we have, but the meth problem here would be much worse.
On some of the challenges facing his department today.
"It's the progression of serious crime. Over my 20 years, what you dealt with 20 years ago compared to what you deal with today, it's a huge difference."
"It's a lot of things . . . our officers, teachers, don't get the respect that they used to. Some of that is brought on. We've seen cops drinking and getting into accidents and doing things they shouldn't. I believe that you treat people the way you want to be treated and that's served me well."
Is there a crime around here that would surprise most people?
"I don't know if it's a surprise, but the elderly being victimized by scams happens more than we like. We try to put stuff out there, you guys in the media help with that, but it happens. We just want people to remember that if it sounds too good to be true . . ."
I always enjoy talking with Mark. It's clear that he's a passionate family man. He can talk a long time about his son, daughter and wife, and that's just fine. His moral compass is clearly aligned well.
Actually, it's hard to believe his first term in office is almost up. It's likely he'll run for re-election next May. I can't say if he'll face a challenger, but if he does, they'll have an uphill climb. Mark Casteel is a sheriff who has run a good department, made improvements and keeps things on the right track. All too often we talk about what's wrong in government. It's refreshing to see what's right.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.