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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Atlantic County Sheriff

The Atlantic County Sheriff's Office is committed to protect the lives, property and rights of all people, to maintain order and to enforce the law. The Atlantic County Sheriff's Office will strive to accomplish this mission by setting goals and objectives and practicing the core values of the Office. It is our mission to improve and maintain the quality of life we enjoy and to ensure that our county is a safe place to live, work and visit. We are totally dedicated to this mission, to the County we serve and to accept the responsibility of attaining our goal of achieving excellence within our profession. The Atlantic County Sheriff's Office's values are its principles and beliefs, which guide the Office's members as they pursue the Office's mission. The underlying premise of the Atlantic County Sheriff's Office is that officers shall dedicate themselves to treat people with respect, fairness and compassion.

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  • Candidate picture

    Joseph A. O'Donoghue
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Eric Scheffler
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

In your view, what are the biggest issues facing the sheriff's department at this time?

What are your qualifications for this office? Why are you the best candidate to handle the responsibilities of the position?

What can the sheriff do to improve public trust in law enforcement?

Campaign Address Same
Campaign Email mario208@aol.com
Website https://www.votesheriffjoe2020.com/
Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/tokyojoeodonoghue/
Under this Sheriff the office has lost its way. He has defunded the office by returning law enforcement funds to the county while using the funding they rewarded him with to purchase a drug addiction van. He has used officers as addiction social workers including having his chief warrants officer to drive this van while warrants for violent offenders pile up and are neglected. The department under my leadership would first focus on Public Safety. We must get these violent offenders off our streets. As Sheriff I promise to put your safety first. We will also continue needed public service programs In addition I identified two other issues below that I believe must be addressed. 1) Civil unrest is one of the greatest challenges to our country. In the best interest of public safety law enforcement must be able to deescalate and contain this crisis while allowing the public to peacefully protest along with expressing free speech as is their constitutional and God-given rights. 2) The division along the lines of racial, cultural, and religion is another challenge. I believe in the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum, "Out of Many One", Our public officials must lead by example. Our diversity should be perceived as our strength and not our weakness, We have a moral obligation to not only work together but to be understanding and accepting. Together we rise but divided we fall.
I was born and raised as a disadvantaged child in the inlet of Atlantic City. My grandfather was the first Japanese American citizen living here in Atlantic City. When tragedy struck my family it was the diverse community that stepped in to raise me including a local Hispanic family who taught me their culture, customs and language, There was an amazing local group of African American churchwomen who attended to my daily needs helping to direct me in a "Godly" manner. I am the father of 16 children including 4 stepchildren. I have 26 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren who are all culturally diverse and the true essence of America.

I have 41 years of criminal, traffic and civil law enforcement experience. I am to date the highest decorated officer of the Atlantic County Sheriffs office recognized by both law enforcement and civilian organizations. I was recently recognized and endorsed by the entire police community of both Cape May and Atlantic County. These are the “Boots on the ground” officers who have actually worked with the current sheriff over the past 3 years. They openly and unanimously decided to change course rejecting him and supporting me. This endorsement speaks volumes about how the peers of the current Sheriff feel about his ability to lead.

In short my entire personal and professional life has prepared for addressing all challenges.
My multicultural multi-language experience coupled with my "boots on the ground" philosophy allows me to be in social settings that make others uncomfortable. For example, during the recent unrest in Atlantic City I was present and on the ground walking among protesters, law enforcement and fearful citizens. I was greeted by many on all sides. Although notably people were angered and tense, they treated me with the same respect I treated them. I listened carefully to the problems. issues and concerns. To be a leader it is essential to be a good listener. We were able to find a lot of common ground so responding to the concerns and issues comes natural to me. We must always find and highlight the things that bring us together as apposed to tearing us apart. I will not need to learn on the curve. I always lead by example and humility.
Campaign Address 132 Bonita Drive Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Website www.schefflerforsheriff.com
Facebook Page Sheriff Scheffler https://www.facebook.com/SchefflerforSheriff
Twitter @Eric4Sheriff
The biggest challenges in the Sheriff’s Office are no different than the biggest challenges that face our society. Building resilience and addressing mental health is a critical issue. According to statistics, approximately 50% of all Americans will suffer some type of mental stress/illness in their lifetime. It is essential to create Resiliency training that gives people the ability to navigate stressful incidents and become stronger, thus ensuring a healthier policing agency and community. I am one of two of the first FBI Master Resiliency trainers for our state. I am working with the New Jersey State Chaplin’s program and Resilience Minds LLC to create programs that will build resiliency in public safety. These programs will also benefit the entire Atlantic County community who may suffer from adverse childhood experiences and/or adult critical incidents. In my office, this translates to standardization for resiliency training and mental health wellness resources and sessions. Ensuring that officers have the skill sets to navigate the cumulative stress and traumatic incidents during their careers. In reference to the general public, it means we need to provide resources and training for everyone to negate these incidents from young children to adults. If we seriously address our community’s mental health wellness, with proper access to services and true actionable programs in a holistic approach, we will create healthier and safer communities for all of us to live and work.
As the incumbent Sheriff, I believe I am the obvious choice. I have over 25 years of experience as a law enforcement officer. Half of those years I was a supervisor, serving as an Atlantic City Police Lieutenant prior to being elected Sheriff in 2017. I am a certified instructor in 22 different top law enforcement areas and have personally created 11 different law enforcement instructor courses. As Sheriff, I have proven that good law enforcement comes from a perfect chemistry of strongly upholding the law, never-before-seen community engagement, and creating social programs for long-term success while maintaining fiscal and moral integrity. In just a little more than two years, I formed the Hope One Project and Mobile One Outreach Initiative to help those suffering with addiction and/or mental illness, including securing a $2 million grant for overdose prevention. This grant was the biggest of its kind in the Sheriff’s Office’s history. I implemented various new programs to ensure that my team isn’t just better, but safer. I am also deeply involved in Veterans’ issues and have conducted more than 100 lectures to train civilians in a variety of subjects including active shooter and first responder training. I increased the Sheriff’s Office presence in area schools and made the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office the most respected it has ever been in its history. I recently created The Sheriff Gormley Scholarship Award which recently awarded $3,000 in scholarships to deserving young men and women. Also, I partnered with Ring to bring a virtual Neighborhood Watch which allows the Sheriff’s department and local police departments to be more connected with the community. This allows us to work together creating a force multiplier to address public safety. I am tremendously proud of these accomplishments! However, I have so much more to do if elected to a second term, including expansion of these programs and the development of new ones.
George Floyd's tragic death and the ensuing and understandable racial unrest in our country has once again demanded change, particularly when it comes to policing. As a retired Lieutenant from the Atlantic City Police Department and as the Sheriff of Atlantic County, I firmly support our police and can tell you from experience that the number of outstanding police officers far outnumber the bad ones by a large margin. However, we must put real change into practice. Systematic change needs to happen on local, state, and national levels. As Sheriff, I am constantly looking for ways to improve our practices because our officers are essential. There are human factors that need to be addressed that will result in better policing. Standardized Mental Health Wellness and Resilience Training would offer routine and consistent training and therapy to create positive coping skills and mentally healthy officers. Standardized Physical Fitness Requirements would ensure that officers remain physically ready to take on whatever situation they may encounter, and would result in a lower level of force needed to handle stressful and dangerous encounters. Weekly Tactical/Technical Training that is standardized and mandatory would result in improvements in overall performance. Age Restrictions that require more schooling and longer academy training combined with a minimum age of 21 to be hired, and aging out police officers from working the streets at age 55. Community Engagement would require officers perform a specific amount of community engagement every week, if not every day, to change negative perceptions. Police would see the good people in their community, and the community gets to know who their police are. Leadership Hiring Standards could make real change in promotional practices that support an officer’s transition into a rank position and that would ensure the most qualified officers become the leaders of their departments.