Hillsdale County Undersheriff Carl Albright is running for sheriff in the 2020 election and promises to improve technology within the department.
Hillsdale County Sheriff Timothy Parker will not run for reelection in August but has endorsed Albright.
Albright began working for the Hillsdale County Sheriff Office in 1985 as a corrections officer. In 1989, he became a sergeant. Albright has done a little bit of everything, as he has worked in every position available in the department and currently runs a $3.5 million budget.
One of Albright’s primary campaign focuses is keeping the department’s technology up-to-date while remaining fiscally responsible.
“I will find new alternatives to costing taxpayer dollars and keep the office up-to-date,” he said. “We can’t put all that burden on taxpayer dollars.”
Another issue Albright plans to focus on is inmates who are mentally ill.
“We’ve had some serious issues in our jail,” he said. “There are a lot of people in our jail who should not be there, people who are addicted to drugs and have mental issues.”
The Hillsdale County District Court began operating a drug court in 2017, which gives first-time offenders who are addicted to drugs the chance to start over through supervision and treatment.
“We give first-time offenders the opportunity to make a change instead of becoming a burden. If we can get them to get off drugs and go clean, they can make a contribution to society. I’d like to see people who want to have a chance have the chance,” he said.
As for people who struggle with mental health, the county jail is not the place for them, Albright said. Though the department has a mental health expert come Monday through Friday, Albright said, there is more that needs to be done.
“We’re doing a terrible disservice to these people,” he said. “That’s something that’s close to my heart to see those people there.”
Albright pointed out that there are several in jail who are mentally unfit to stand trial for misdemeanor charges, but because the wait to get into a mental facility can take six to eight months, they end up waiting longer to get help than they would serving a maximum sentence for their crime.
“We’ve got to do more,” Albright said. “I’m talking with other sheriffs very seriously. There’s an outcry for that, and there should be an outcry.”
Albright cited his 36 years of law enforcement in Hillsdale County as one reason he would serve the public well as the sheriff.
“I’m very familiar with all operations. I’ve dedicated my entire life thus far to law enforcement. I’m invested in this community,” he said.
Since those who run for sheriff do not have to be in law enforcement, Albright said it’s important to elect someone who knows what they’re doing in times of crisis.
“I’m the most qualified,” Albright said. “You don’t have to be a licensed police officer to be sheriff. The real issue is when you or your family is the victim of the crime, do you want someone investigating that to be a licensed police officer?” he asked.
Parker said it’s important to have a sheriff who has some law enforcement experience.
“We have 60 to 70 people we are keeping behind these bars. We’re responsible for protection in our schools and courts. Do you want someone who’s actually a law enforcement officer?” he asked.
Albright declined to comment when asked about his misconduct, which included forging the city treasurer’s signature on two separate tax documents in July 2019.