Candidate for Prince Edward sheriff discusses crime at forum

Published 7:48 am Monday, October 2, 2023

We continue today spotlighting other parts of the NAACP’s Monday, Sept. 18 candidate forum, held at the Moton Museum. This time around, we focus on the race for sheriff of Prince Edward County. 

The only candidate featured here is Robert Goldman, as he was the only one to attend the forum. The current Prince Edward County sheriff, L.A. “Tony” Epps, was out of town attending a sheriff’s conference and unable to attend. The Herald will have a followup Q & A segment in October, where we can hear from each candidate again. That will be generated from questions we ask followers to send in through our social media channels, just as we did last year. 

Q: When it comes to crime, are you satisfied with Prince Edward’s current status? What are we doing well and what do we need to change, in your opinion? 

Goldman: Our drug problem, we need to work on that. I was on the Virginia State Police task force. As soon as the task force disappeared, the drugs, that’s all you hear. As I’m campaigning around the county, I hear the complaints about the drugs. If you can slow down the drugs, you slow down the (breaking and entering), you slow down the killings, because most of the three extend from each other. And it can carry from Prince Edward to the other counties. Now, notice I said control. You can control it. You cannot stop it but you can control it. So all we can do is work on it, make an attempt to slow things down. You have to start somewhere. 

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I also want to bridge the gap with law enforcement. I want to be able to have communication with all law enforcement agencies and departments here in Prince Edward County. We have eight departments or offices here. What we need to do is be able to communicate. We need to sit down with the leaders and come up with a plan for each and every thing that we’re going to go through, a policy. We can sit down and make a written policy that states what to do in every situation. 

Q: The latest “Crime in Virginia” report detailed 514 robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts in Prince Edward County during 2022. That’s 514 in Prince Edward County. 270 in Buckingham and Cumberland, with a much smaller population, at 84. Prince Edward has the largest population out of the three, so 514 is a smaller percentage. But how do we cut down on that number?

Goldman: Basically, again, it’s going to stem from the drugs. It also extends from mental health. Some of the biggest drug users are those that have mental health issues. If you give them medication and they feel the medication is not working, they take it and sell it for drugs. So now you get them using drugs, mixing in with the mental health issues. It gives you courage to do things you wouldn’t do if you were on your medication.

That’s something I want to work on, working closer with Crossroads, working closer with Piedmont Regional Jail, working closer with the hospital. We have to find a way to slow down some of the crime you’re speaking of, but I don’t care how you’re looking at it, it all extends from drugs. I try to find some other reason, but that’s the only reason at this point in time I could tell you. Until we control the drugs, those other crimes will continue to happen. 

Q: When it comes to operations, is there a project you’d like to spotlight? Or one you’d like to launch in the coming year? 

Goldman: I want to bridge the gap (between agencies). You may say we have communication. We have that connection. But we don’t. I’ve worked there. I’ve seen it. I can pull up to a stop sign in uniform and there’s another officer at the stop sign in his uniform and he won’t even acknowledge that I’m there. How can we solve crime or how can you call me to go to your house to solve a problem when we have a problem with each other? With the Virginia State Police Task Force, when the state trooper got killed in Cumberland, it brought us together more than we had ever been.

But we don’t need to be brought together for a year, a month. We need to stay together. We don’t need an officer to go down to come together. That’s what I want to do. I want to sit down with each department and see what we can do to come together. If we have something going on in Prince Edward, Hampden Sydney should know about it, Longwood should know about it.

All the agencies in Prince Edward should know about it, so they can be searching for the same person. If I’m going over to Longwood, I’m not just going over to Longwood. I’m going to let the chief know and invite one or two of her guys to join us in doing a search warrant. Just come together as one and make Prince Edward a stronger place. And we can do it.