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‘Rogue DA’ needs to be removed for dismissal of so many cases, FOP leader says x
Saturday, 01 January 2022 15:56
By JOHN NORTH
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Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams’ proclivity to dismiss as many as all — to nearly all — court cases in some crime categories (at times) is an indicator he is acting on his own and not following the rule of law, qualifying him to be termed a “rogue DA” who needs to be removed, according to Rondell Lance, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge.

“I’ve heard the Buncombe DA’s office described as a ‘rogue DA’s office,’ with Todd Williams as a ‘rogue DA’ — and I could agree with that statement,” Lance told the Daily Planet in a brief interview Dec. 27.

Meanwhile, in an extensive telephone interview with the newspaper on Dec. 24, Lance, who represents around 250 local law enforcement members, said DA’s dismissal of so many cases sends a message to local lawbreakers that there are no consequences for their actions and thereby results in more crime, discourages police officers from making arrests and endangers the general public. 

Regarding Williams’ recent sparring with Asheville Police Chief David Zack in a joint radio appearance (see story atop this page), Lance said of the DA, “He’s trying to find a way to dismiss his actions” with his self-defense arguments.

Regarding the case dismissals by Williams, Lance said, “A lot of them are vagrants. There are vagrants, homeless, people with addictions” and others.

“Very few” of the arrests are made of those “who are really homeless, who have lost their homes for some reason. We (local law enforcement officials) rarely had problems with them. They were trying to get back on their feet.

“The ones we had problems with ... were repeat offenders. The ones these (Asheville police) officers are chargiing are the ones causing all the problems downtown — it ain’t just people without a home out there.”

As an aside, Lance noted that, besides enforcing the laws on the books, “they (the powers that be) need to start working on — and with — people with addictions.”

Returning to Williams, the FOP president asserted, “For the DA’s office to dismiss cases at such a high rate — it shows they’re trying to do away with law and order... There’s got to be some consequences for your actions” and, if there are no consequences, it encourages lawbreakers to commit even more crimes.

“When we worked downtown (Lance is a retired APD sergeant), we dealt with the same people (lawbreakers and troublemakers) for three or four years” and, besides arressting them and holding them accountable, in many cases they need treatment for mental health and addiction issues.

“There’s no excuse the DA can give for that high numbers of (case) dismissals — it’s (part of) a far left progressive (political) movement across the country to decriminalizeour communities where nobody is held accountable for their actions.”

After a pause, Lance said of Williams’ actions, “He’s enabling” the lawbreakers. “He’s an ‘enabler.’”

So what is Lance’s solution to what he terms the problem with Williams’s dismissal of so many court cases?

“He cannot be fired because he’s elected,” Lance replied. “The only thing to do is what they did to the DA (Greg Newman) out there in Hendersonville — is (Williams’ opponents) to get together and file claims with the North Carolina Bar (Association) and let them start investigating him…. just like with Greg Newman.” (In previous interviews, Lance has noted that he feels Newman, a Republican, was “railroaded” by the legal system in his removal from office.)

Just as in the Newman case, Lance said, “We have to find a ‘victim’ — or defeat him (Williams) in the next election.”

However, Lance admitted that there are no conservatives, Republicans or even moderate Democrats who appear to be willing — at this point — to challenge Williams in the next election. Yet he remained ever the optimist about a challenger emerging.

“Todd’s talking about needing more police department downtown — he’s trying to cover his tracks,” Lance said in reference to Dec. 16 radio discussion with David Zack, the APD chief. “He got caught with his (leftist) agenda — and now he’s proving this to his community.”

A key aspect of a legal system, law enforcement and public safety is “to hold people accountable for their actions,” a concept which, in his view, seems to have eluded Williams, Lance said.

“They (police officers) are charging them (the accused lawbreakers) for a reason. We must hold them accountable...

“If they don’t show up (for a court date), you can issue a warrant for failure to appear.” Instead, as a result of Williams’ policies, lawbreakers around Asheville know that if they “don’t show up” for court, their case will simply be dismissed.

As for the APD hiring a recruiter to help fill its many vacancies, Lance said, “If you don’t have law and order and accountablilty in any society, you’ll have” low morale on the police force.

“For an officer, it’s not necessarily the money. It’s — does that community back the police? Does the DA back the police?”

In Asheville, “the community does (back the police), but the politicians don’t,” Lance told the Daily Planet in the interview.

Lance, who as an FOP leader attends many law enforcement conferences around the state, added, “Everybody (in law enforcement) knows across the state what’s going on in Asheville — and they say, ‘We don’t want to work there.’”

The FOP leader asked, rhetorically, “How are you going to recruit people when you have politicians and other groups saying, ‘Defund them,’ and a DA who is more interested in helping criminals than helping the victims of crime?

“It’s tragic and sad. People should be beating down the door to come to work in Asheville because of the beauty of the area, but the political environment is totally anti-police,” Lance asserted.

What’s more, Lance, the local FOP president, said the message that Williams, the DA, is sending out is: “Police officers — don’t be charging these people.”

To that end, Lance said, “There’s no consequences for their (the local lawbreakers’) actions. Part of your sentence” should be “you get mental health or drug or alcohol treatment.”

Rhetorically, the FOP leader asked, “Why would you (as a police officer) go out there and write them (a lawbreaker) a ticket, when you need something done” to stop a problem? But, he contended, that is not possible with Williams’ laxness as a DA.

“The officers get frustrated,” Lance told the Daily Planet. “They don’t trust the district attorney’s office....”

Worse, he contended, “The judges are letting him get away with this.” Elsewhere, Lance said, “they get a warrant” if someone does not show up for a court hearing, but in Asheville, the case is usually dismissed.

So does Lance think the entire legal system in Buncombe (including Asheville) — the DA and the judges — is ‘compromised?’”

In response, Lance shot back, “The legal system in Buncombe County (including Asheville) is very compromised… It’s a joke what’s going on” in the local legal system.

Lance added, “A lot of these officers say the reason” they are leaving the APD is that they had aspirations of serving a straight-forward, by-the-book American legal system for the betterment of society — and instead have seen a horrific Buncombe legal system totally controlled by one party with no checks and balances under which the DA and some local judges do not even enforce the law or, if they do, they do so selectively.

Moving on to related issue, one solution on recruitment for the APD, the FOP president said, is “they do need to recruit these (former) military” personnel who already have training in many aspects of policing.  

Regarding Asheville’s recent landing on three “worst of lists” for places to live in the United States, Lance said, “That doesn’t surprise me. 

“I think they (the powers that be) want to blame the police as the ‘bad people’ to cover up for their own failures. They’re enabling those who are drug addicts, or have mental issues ... and they’re doing nothing for them ... not holding them accountable for anything. It’s sad what’s going on. The city’s truly ‘out of control.’”

Further, he asserted, “There’s nobody to blame but the DA, the county commissioners and City Council. They’re giving in to these (far left, anti-police) groups.”

In his own observation, Lance said, “A lot of people (tourists) who come to this area now (actively) avoid downtown” Asheville because they have read or heard news about the crime there, and trash (including discarded syringes) from the homeless population that has flocked — from far and wide — to a city that gives them free housing, meals and medical care.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the businesses of Asheville to come together to put pressure on the DA, (city) council and (county) commissioners and tell them: ‘We will not tolerate this environment, where there is no law and order or accountability for those commiting crimes.’”

So does Lance plan to seek Williams’ removal from office via the N.C. Bar Association?

“Not at this time — we’ve got some more paperwork” to gather before making such a decision, Lance told the Daily Planet. 

In closing the interview, Lance reiterated that the data on local court cases dismissed, along with Asheville’s general decline (in reality and perception), “paints a clear picture of what they (the DA, council and commissioners) have created.” 



 



 


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