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Three candidates vying for sheriff in Dixie County

Published: Nov. 2, 2020 at 8:15 PM EST
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DIXIE CO., Fla. (WCJB) - For the first time in 16 years, citizens of Dixie County will elect a new sheriff, Tuesday. Dewey Hatcher Sr. has held the office of sheriff in Dixie County for 20 years, including re-elections in each of his last four terms.

Following a decision to retire this year, three candidates are running to take his place. All three are life-long Dixie County residents and have made addressing the drug problem in Dixie County a priority.

Darby Butler prides himself on being the only candidate with 25 consecutive years in law enforcement. He began his career in the Florida Department of Corrections in 1994 before making the switch to Florida Fish and Wildlife where he’s worked since.

Some of the issues most important to Butler include implementing a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs, expanding community outreach programs, and ensuring the health and well-being of law enforcement.

“I’m a hands-on type person. Have been for my entire career, 25 years,” said Butler. “I enjoy working with the people and alongside the people and for the people. In law enforcement, you have a lot of focus sometimes on the negativity. I like to view the positive side of actually really helping somebody.”

Butler intends to implement a drug task force team with the goal of combating and eliminating the drug problem in Dixie County.

“I want to really dissect our department and include a drug task force team to where we can aggressively go after the drugs that plague our county. It’s gotten out of hand the past few years and I really want to have zero drug tolerance in our county, which will help with the burglaries and the thefts and domestic violence, and help suppress those issues as well.”

Nick Hatcher comes from a family of lawmen, including his father, the current retiring Sheriff Dewey Hatcher Sr., as well as his grandfather and great grandfather, who were both Dixie County sheriffs.

He has 12 years of experience working at the Cross City Correctional Institution, including the last four years as Classifications Supervisor.

Important issues to Hatcher include addressing drug and property crimes and using his record as a proven leader with a strong work ethic to lead Dixie County as sheriff.

“I definitely think that I can improve the sheriff’s office. I think the current office is doing a great job with the resources they have, but there’s always room for improvement for anyone,” said Hatcher. “I do feel like I can improve them and the part where I feel like we’ll be a lot alike is that I’m gonna be somebody who you can talk to, the citizens can talk to, and I feel like there will be a line of communication there that people want.”

Hatcher plans to work more closely with the judicial system to make longer-lasting changes in addressing the drug problem in the county.

“We have to figure out a way to get these drug dealers off the street, and not just for a short amount of time. We have to figure out how to get them off to get their attention, to send a message. It’s not an overnight success, it’s gonna take some time but we’ve just gotta be relentless on this. When somebody is selling drugs in the county, the message has got to be sent, not only from the sheriff’s department but from the state attorney and the judges that we’re gonna be a zero-tolerance county.”

Jamey Michael King got his start in law enforcement with the Florida Department of Corrections in 2000. He’s also had multiple stints with the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office, working there from 2002 to 2013, as well as brief appearances in 2015 and 2019.

King plans to expand the narcotics unit as a way to address the drug issue in the county, as well as open up lines of communication between citizens and the sheriff’s office and to update the dispatch system to more efficiently share info between officers and other agencies.

“When I first started out on this journey to run for sheriff, my first thought was that I really just wanted to help Dixie County. It wasn’t about the position,” said King. “It was really just about the community and being able to make that change because I know that I know how to make that change. I know that I know how to work the drugs and if you work the drugs you stop the burglaries.”

King says the first step to address the county’s drug issue is to increase the manpower of the narcotics unit and allocate money to better serve that team.

“A lot of people are concerned about the drug problem in Dixie County and I can tell you, out of all the candidates I’m the only one that’s actually went out there and boots on the ground and worked narcotics. [We’re going to] increase our man power to three or maybe even four people in the narcotics unit and once you have that, then you have a more efficient unit out there working to combat the drug problem in Dixie County.”

As of Monday morning, more than 50 percent of eligible voters in Dixie County had already cast their ballot.

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