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Shelby County Sheriff ballot set, race heats up

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Two candidates with extensive public safety experience are vying to become Shelby County's next sheriff.

Republican Dale Lane currently coordinates Shelby County's Office of Emergency Preparedness. He said he wanted to use those skills to get back in to law enforcement and respond instead to crime.

"I started with the local police department in Millington in 1987, then went to the Sheriff`s Office in `89 and spent 26 years there," Lane said. "There's no question what the main issue is: violent crime, that`s our focus."

Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner is already fighting that fight as the second-in-command at the Shelby County Sheriff`s Office. He won the Democratic primary this week.

"I`m responsible for running the day-to-day operations at the Sheriff`s Office; the jail as well as law enforcement. The jail is a big component of the Sheriff`s Office," Bonner said.

Both said their current positions made them better prepared to be sheriff.

"We`re doing well at the Sheriff`s Office. I've spent 37 years there. The current sheriff has endorsed me," Bonner said.

"We cannot continue with the status quo. The last three years we've seen a virtually double-digit increases in violent crime every year," Lane said.

Bonner agreed there`s a need for change. They both have plans to create programs that engage the community and help intervene with kids.

"What we're going to do is create a youth violence strike force. The first area is prevention. We want to prevent young people from getting involved in gangs," Lane said. "The second piece is intervention in gangs and get them out. They need alternatives. Lastly, the suppression piece is disrupt and displace criminal gang activity all over county."

"There are a lot of things beside putting people in jail. We have to start programs engaging our youth, talking to kids, mentoring and getting involved in elementary school," Bonner said. "Getting [school resource officers] in elementary schools, to start that program a little earlier."

Both men are grandfathers from Shelby County and both have spent their adult lives in public service. It comes down to: is the public happy with the leadership now or does the sheriff`s office need a fresh start?