Last fall, Glendell Hill (R), 57, became the first African American sheriff of Prince William County. He captured nearly 60 percent of the vote, replacing incumbent E. Lee Stoffregen III (D), who made controversial moves by encouraging deputies to set up speed traps and tactical teams -- duties that overlapped with those of the county police. Here, Hill reflects with Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira on his first eight months running the Sheriff's Department.
QWhat do you like most about your job?
AI like to walk around the courthouse a couple times a day to see what goes on, meet deputies, see what kinds of problems we're having. Part of my management style is by walking around. It gives me a good idea of the security of the building.
Last fall's election was very heated. The incumbent, former Sheriff E. Lee Stoffregen, expanded the deputy's typical responsibilities, adding traffic enforcement and emergency response. Those efforts frustrated the county police department, which felt that Stoffregen was treading on their territory and duplicating services. In your campaign, you pledged to stop that. Have you been able to do that?
First of all, we are focusing on the mission of this office, which is courthouse security, prison transport and processing civil service papers. We are not focusing on writing tickets. If deputies see a violation, they can certainly [act on it]. But we are not going out and setting up a radar. Providing security in the courthouse is paramount.
What new initiatives have you introduced in the last eight months or plan to introduce in the near future that you believe will provide a real impact on the community?
We will have a deputy go to churches to talk about careers in law enforcement and [promote] our Child ID program, which is when we photograph a child, take a fingerprint and give them an identification card. I also intend to have a chaplain program so my staff will have someone to talk to [when a tragic situation occurs].
You oversaw the county's regional jail when Washington sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad was a resident. Muhammad's stay was notorious -- he tried to escape and once fashioned a sharp-edged tool out of a plastic spoon. What was it like having him as an inmate?
I did not have a scary interaction with him. Inmates don't fight me. When I first met him he had no response. I told him who I was. I did not get any response from him. The second time, he had some questions, including how long would he be there. When he first arrived, he was briefed about rules -- certainly, he was not receptive. He didn't like me that much. That didn't bother me.
At the moment, what is the Sheriff's Department's biggest weakness and how do you plan on improving it?
One of the weaknesses we should improve is the security of the courthouse. We do an excellent job in courtrooms, but we have a lot of activity in the parking lot. We have a lot of criminal cases, with victims' family members and members of a defendant's family, and some of those cases are highly emotional.
Michael W. Messier, a former sheriff's deputy, has already filed with the county registrar to run for your job in 2007. He's raised $3,300, including $1,000 from your former rival, Stoffregen. Do you plan to run again?
I haven't decided if I am going to run. You run for office for a reason. Certainly everyone knows why I ran. I don't know what Mike's reason is. I hope he has one. I am certain he does.