MOULTRIE -- The first contender for a Colquitt County public post in the 2004 election has officially tossed his hat into the fray.

Berlin Police Chief Randy Oliver qualified Tuesday to run for sheriff of Colquitt County.

"I've been looking into doing this for a while now. I've just been trying to get some feedback on how the people felt," Oliver said, adding the City of Berlin just amended the city charter to allow him to continue working while campaigning.

Oliver said he doesn't think Sheriff Al Whittington is adequately enforcing the law.

"I don't think the sheriff's office is proactively performing traffic enforcement. I think they're letting a lot of things slide as far as speeders, drunk drivers, things like that. The roadblocks they have -- they request the (Georgia State Patrol) to come and make the DUI arrests," he said.

Because of the county's high rate of traffic-related deaths, the state would provide grants to Colquitt County to establish a traffic enforcement unit, Oliver said. The state would pay for salaries, uniforms and vehicles for the first three years.

"That's four to five more deputies you can hire right off the bat," he said.

Oliver, referring to three escapes from the county jail last year, doesn't think the jail is effectively run. Plus, he said he's not content with Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) inmates, who enjoy federal protection of their rights, taking up all the bed space so that local county inmates have to sleep on floor mats, he said. Oliver further questioned the net profit of housing INS prisoners and why the money isn't routed back to the sheriff's office to build bigger facilities and hire more correctional officers rather than feeding the county's general budget.

He also questioned why jailers don't carry a weapon and transport inmates for medical treatment rather than pulling deputies off the road. That practice would save the county money, he said.

The Drug Enforcement Team has made street level arrests but is not seeking out the larger players in the Colquitt County drug trade, he said.

"There's a lot of drugs coming up through Highway 319 and even up 133 headed to Albany and Columbus from Florida that's not being looked at. There's a big money-maker for the county just in drug seizures of money and vehicles," he said, adding that the canine unit has only one dog, which isn't actively being used.

Oliver, whose wife works for Colquitt County Schools, is satisfied with the placement of school resource officers but wants to see canine units aid in sweeps of school campuses to sniff out illegal drugs.

"That was something that I brought to the school's attention," he said, though acknowledging Whittington's effort at establishing the detail.Oliver recently attended the 2004 Annual Winter Training Conference sponsored by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police in Augusta covering homeland security, methamphetamine lab investigations, use of force, identity theft and successful leadership through commitment.

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