top of page


On the Issues

James Herring smiles in Arlington


The role of Sheriff in Arlington County can and should serve as an example of what leadership in law enforcement can be. Instead, over the past two decades we have seen the role shrink to its minimal functions: operating the Arlington County jail, securing the Arlington County courthouses, and serving summonses, warrants, eviction notices, and other court-issued documents.

The Sheriff’s Office has not been immune to the understaffing and turnover that plagues many law enforcement agencies in the country. These issues lead to a workplace culture susceptible to overworked personnel, shortcuts, and a lack of transparency and accountability – in short, a department that has great difficulty carrying out its most basic functions. This jeopardizes the security of the courthouse complex, and ultimately endangers the care of people in custody. 


Arlington is one of the most prosperous, progressive communities in America. There are no excuses – our Sheriff's Office should be better.

We have the opportunity to better serve those in custody, our deputies, and our residents with innovative solutions while also operating in a more transparent manner, so that the role of the Sheriff’s Office better aligns with the values of our community.

My front-line experience, both as a police officer and an Army officer, gives me a perspective that none of the other candidates possess. I realize that I’m running against a headwind; but given the current issues, I do not believe this position should be handed down as it has been in the past. The previous Sheriff was appointed by her predecessor. The incoming Sheriff has been appointed by his predecessor. If you're noticing a pattern, you're not wrong. The inheritance of not only a crucial elected position, but a constitutional office, has resulted in a deteriorating department. 

A department outsider is needed more than ever, especially since these issues have persisted for many years, despite both of my fellow candidates’ roles within the department. We have the opportunity for real change, but a fire cannot be put out from inside the house. The lack of fresh ideas and disinterest in the democratic process for a constitutional office has stifled any opportunity for innovation. 

I have identified the following as major issues within the Sheriff’s Office, and have included my recommendations to address them. By voting for me, you are giving me the opportunity to put my ideas to work.

Care for Inmates

As a police officer, I have witnessed firsthand that many people who are placed in custody are experiencing mental health issues, a general lack of  healthcare, homelessness, or all three.

Providing the highest quality care for those in custody will be my responsibility. Period. As Sheriff, I will be able to speak directly to the care those in custody receive. My goals include:

  • Hiring more doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. These positions would be employees – not contractors – to provide better oversight and accountability.

  • Working with the Arlington County Fire Department to provide EMT and paramedic training for deputies 

  • Hiring in-house psychiatrists and other mental health experts

  • Requiring coordinators for those experiencing homelessness to work not just with Arlington’s shelter, but with a regional shelter network to help those in need find appropriate housing close to where they normally seek resources. Currently, the Sheriff's Office does NO work with the Arlington shelter.


The current mindset within law enforcement (and the larger healthcare system) is to simply treat those in custody as issues arise. Instead, my goal is to have all persons in custody receive baseline physicals. Knowing the baseline for a person's mental and physical well-being can not only help prevent medical issues, but may reduce the burden on the criminal justice system by reducing the number of re-offenders. Here is an example of what needs to be addressed: A man feels ill because his kidneys are failing. He steals items to sell for money, which he then uses to pay for heroin to help self-medicate. Eventually he is apprehended and charged for the theft and drug possession, given enough medicine to treat the issue, and released pending his trial date. He starts to feel ill again, re-offends, and the cycle repeats. 


As a law enforcement professional (and, for that matter, as a human being),  I find this unacceptable. Had this man received a proper diagnosis, treatment, and services while in custody, I believe he could have been prevented from further harming himself and his community in his desperation. As a result, police would not have another crime to document, investigate, and commit resources to. But most importantly, Arlington would be that much safer; and the rate of recidivism would be reduced.   




Jail is a unique place in American society. While people in prison have been through the trial process and convicted of a crime, many others in jail are awaiting their trial. Prison is meant to penalize people. Jail can and should be a chance for a 'reset.'

  • Many people in custody are unemployed or underemployed. Finding an employer willing to employ someone who is working through a difficult time in their life can make a huge difference. This is why I will work with local and regional employers to determine whether applicable individuals housed in the jail could have a job waiting for them upon release. I will also identify vocational and educational opportunities that can prepare these individuals to be ready to go to work once released.

  • For individuals with housing needs, whether in Arlington or elsewhere in the Metropolitan area, I will work with housing providers to ensure no one is released to the streets – they will have a bed where they can rest and live in safety. 

  • People who are suffering from substance abuse will be connected to programs and local support networks (AA, NA, etc.) that can help treat these chronic conditions. 


By employing a renewed commitment to employment, education, housing, and physical and mental health, I believe we can create a safety net that reduces the chances someone would end up back in the care of the Sheriff's Office.


As we enter 2023, responsible communities are working to reduce their impact on the environment. Though the upfront cost can be high, investments in sustainable initiatives more than pay for themselves in the long run. It is time for the Arlington Sheriff's Office to go green. The following initiatives can help accomplish this goal:


  • Go Paperless: Work with legislators to increase paperless options when available.

  • Solar: Work with professionals to install solar panels on the courthouse and jail in order to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings. Additionally, these innovations (especially when combined with battery storage) would improve the jail and courthouse's ability to operate safely during inclement weather, further guaranteeing that those in custody would be in a safe environment if and when the grid falters. 

  • Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: During the gas price surge, the county footed the growing costs to keep the Police Department’s vehicles operational. Electric vehicles for in-county services and hybrid vehicles for out-of-county services can save money through both fuel costs and vehicle maintenance. 

  • Contracts with Regional Farms: Move away from contracts with large food supply companies that often have inferior quality and excess packing materials, and work with regional farmers to source meat, dairy, produce, and other foodstuffs. The shorter shipping distance, combined with higher quality and freshness, will improve the health of the people in custody, and keep Arlington tax dollars supporting our region’s farmers. 




Like many other law enforcement agencies nationwide, the Arlington County Sheriff's Office has been forced to operate the jail and the courthouse security with minimal – or below-minimum – staffing for some time now. The deputies who are currently staffing the jail often work forced overtime – including on their days off – which, after extended periods, leads to work/life balance issues. Having worked in this type of environment, I know first-hand that this is not sustainable. Forced overtime, while nice for your paycheck, eventually damages your physical and mental well-being. 

Expecting deputies to ‘live to work’ will drive most of them away, given enough time. This loss of experienced people costs Arlington taxpayers; we paid for the deputies’ training, but many are likely to leave for other agencies that offer better schedules. Their new employers get the benefit of fully-trained and experienced employees at no cost to them. This loss also harms the people in custody, as experienced deputies know how to build positive relationships and provide a better experience for those in our care.

Additionally, there are certain deputy-to-custodial person ratios that are needed for ALL tasks in the jail. If staffing is below the minimum level, the inmates will be held in their cells, unable to visit the library, work out, or receive visitors, until (and only if) staffing can be remedied for that day. There have been countless studies on the negative aspects of solitary confinement, and we should not be punishing those in our custody because we are unable to find enough deputies.

My staffing solution is a two-step process. First, focus on retention. Recruiting efforts are important, but if you cannot keep the people you spend time, effort, and money to hire and train, you are ultimately fighting a losing battle. I will meet with all deputies to establish what ideas they have to improve their various positions and to ensure they feel supported by their leadership. I will work out a rotation that balances deputies’ time in both the highly-desired units and the less-desired positions; this will ensure they are well-rounded, but also that they receive mentorship to help them achieve their career goals. 

The second step is a renewed recruiting effort. Prospective applicants will not apply to the Arlington Sheriff's Office if they can receive better pay and benefits from neighboring agencies. Better pay and better benefits will help Arlington lure more applicants to fill the ranks and further reduce the personnel crisis. I would also consider higher salaries and/or bonuses for people with relevant multilingual abilities (such as Spanish, Mongolian, Amharic, Arabic, and ASL) and for those who have attained extra training or certifications applicable to the job.  


Cooperation with Local Law Enforcement

As a police officer, I have observed the two Arlington law enforcement agencies – the Sheriff's Office and the Police Department – operating in separate silos when they could be cooperating to achieve mutual goals. This would ease the burden on both departments, provide the community with better quality public service, and – most importantly – provide transparency to give us a clear picture of how they’re performing – or not performing. A goal of mine that would help with both retention and aiding the Police Department would be identifying deputies that are able to go work and either handle more ‘routine’ calls for service or assist with traffic enforcement at identified problem areas, along with targeted DUI enforcement. Having a unit of deputies that could work in this capacity would provide another career opportunity for those seeking roles outside of the court security and jail functions and improve personnel morale. 


Given that the jail and courthouse are secured environments, it is hard for the public to know what is going on in either place, barring some crisis that makes the news. This lack of transparency is a disservice to everyone. How can we, as law enforcement, have the public’s trust, if we do not tell the public what is going on – whether it is positive or negative information? I will routinely answer any questions (within what is legally allowable) that are sent my way, and will welcome anyone with questions to tour the jail and the courthouse. The Sheriff’s Office is part of a county government that exists to serve YOU. I will never forget that.  

bottom of page