Interim Henry County Sheriff Wayne Davis took office on July 1 this year, and after only three months in the position, now faces his first election. He says that his experience sets him apart from his challenger, Del Mills.
“I am the only certified law enforcement officer running for sheriff. I’m one of only twenty-nine sheriffs in Virginia to be certified by the Virginia Sheriff’s Institute, and I have been promoted to, and held every rank in the Henry County Sheriff’s Office,” Davis said.
Some of those positions include serving as supervisor over the patrol division and criminal investigations, serving as a member and eventual commander of the SWAT team, and serving on and commanding the search and recovery dive team. Davis has spent the past 14 years in a leadership position. He also has logged over 2,000 hours of in-classroom instruction with numerous certifications in various topics including sniper instruction, defensive tactics instruction, and active shooter response instruction.
His transition into the top post was unique. After twenty-three years of working in the sheriff’s office, Davis said he had a good idea of what the role would require and the improvements he wanted to make, and was given the leeway to begin making some of the improvements in late-March.
Now, “I’m very pleased with the progress made in a short period of time,” Davis said, highlighting a few of those improvements, such as placing a School Resource Officer (SRO) in every county school, reallocating resources and changing tactics to better target drug activity at the dealer level, and finalizing a $361,000 grant to improve some of the technology the sheriff’s office uses.
A large portion of that grant, he said, has gone towards implementing an advanced license plate reader system that will give law enforcement officers real time alerts about vehicles that may be related to a crime. The rest of the grant money is set aside for purchasing drone systems to respond to crimes or other community needs.
In addition, another of his accomplishments is reintroducing a revised D.A.R.E. program to the county’s schools after a 20-year hiatus, Davis said. The revised DARE program teaches drug and alcohol awareness along with general life skills, decision making skills, social media safety, and anti-bullying.
Although Piedmont Community Services has maintained a strong drug awareness and prevention program in the schools, Davis is thankful to have the D.A.R.E. program re-instituted so the sheriff’s office can assist with prevention efforts.
“My primary focus,” Davis said, “is the removal of drug dealers from our community, the safety and security of our citizens, and to continue investing in our youth and being engaged with all the good citizens of Henry County.”
Among his greatest successes during his short tenure as sheriff, Davis said that even though the office has faced difficult personnel issues as many others, it has worked to quickly solve numerous homicides, which is “a testament to the strength of the team at the sheriff’s office.”
The improvements he has instituted thus far will continue, he said, adding he hopes to increase and improve the Community Policing Unit.
“We need to always be looking at how to do things better. We will always be on a constant path to improvement,” Davis said.
He first became interested in law enforcement shortly after high school. He met a law enforcement officer that showed Davis how he was able to give back to the community and how he could help people in their times of need. Davis began working at the Sheriff’s Office at age 21 and hasn’t left since.
“I have lived my entire life in Henry County and care deeply for this community,” he said. “Whether helping someone in need, providing guidance to troubled youth, or making communities safer, these duties and serving you are deeply rewarding. I’m genuinely thankful for the opportunity to serve this community. It’s a true honor and a privilege. It has also been a blessing and humbling.
“I ask for your vote because I want to continue working hard for you to make Henry County the best place to live, work, and raise your family,” Davis said. “To accomplish this, I need your support, your prayers, and your vote on November 7th.”