Youngblood makes bid for sheriff

Published 9:13 pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014



Jason Youngblood announced his candidacy for Pike County sheriff at a press conference held Tuesday morning at the Town Square gazebo in downtown Troy, but he has been planning to run on the GOP ticket for some time.
The grandson of a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, Youngblood said aspired to be police chief or sheriff in Pike County.
“I believe my law enforcement and military experience make me qualified to be the next sheriff of Pike County,” he said. “But being a good sheriff takes more than qualifications. It takes someone who understands and appreciates the value of relationships with other law enforcement agencies. Most of all, it takes someone who is willing to enforce the law in our county.”
Youngblood, who is running as a Republican, cited Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas’ felony drug arrest record in 2013 and 2012 as proof that Thomas was ineffective. He said Thomas was an ineffective jailer and shared Facebook images that were allegedly taken by Pike County inmates from within the jail.
Youngblood also cited Pike County’s 34 speeding tickets and three arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol (since 2012) as proof Thomas was an ineffective leader who did not demand more from his deputies.
“That’s one speeding ticket a month and almost one DUI per year,” he said. “It is my promise to you today that, if elected, the Pike County Sheriff’s Office will wage a war on drugs in Pike County that is real and gets results.”
This is the first time since Thomas, a Democrat, was elected in 1994 that he has had opposition. The general election will be Nov. 4.
During a press conference held shortly after Youngblood’s announcement, Thomas pulled out five volumes of press clippings that he had accumulated in his 20 years in office. He shared a box of cell phones he said had been confiscated from inmates in the last two or three years, saying that the Pike County Jail is one of the oldest in the state and has its share of issues.
“I stand on my record. We’ve had a lot of success, solved a lot of cases,” he said. “I’ve got a team of fine, fine employees who work very hard to provide the best possible law enforcement of this county.”
Thomas questioned Youngblood’s sources for the arrest statistics he shared and then provided statistics of his own. In the last four and a half years, the sheriff’s office has made 55 cases for the distribution of a controlled substance and 20 cases for the possession of a controlled substance, Thomas said.
“He just turned in 12 to 15 cases to the district attorney’s office,” Thomas said, gesturing at Lt. Bob Williamson.
Until Youngblood ended his 19 years of service in the Alabama National Guard, he could not campaign for public office.
Youngblood has been a police officer almost as long as he was in the National Guard. He served 18 years in law enforcement, many at the Troy Police Department. He was also a member of the Troy University, Ozark and Dothan police departments and served in the Alabama Counterdrug Program.
Youngblood has advanced training in drug enforcement, anti-terrorism and bomb disposal. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

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