Commentary: Kent County sheriff reflects on first year on job

As I start my second year in office as your sheriff, I hope you all had a safe and Happy New Year. I want to let you know what an honor it has been for me to serve you, the residents of Kent County. It has been a busy first year on the job, becoming acclimated with the office and working hard on new projects to better our community.

As your sheriff, I came into office by setting high standards not only for myself but also for my staff. My staff has not let me down. My staff works hard every day for the community and people of Kent County by providing a professional level of service for all the residence. This alone makes me feel very proud.

Brian E. Lewis

Currently, all my deputies are retired law enforcement officers and the nature of our office is serving subpoenas, summonses and other court documents throughout the county, both in criminal and civil matters. My deputies are armed and must be aware of their surroundings because of any situation that can occur in the performance of their duties. Their safety is of the utmost importance to me as a leader.

I believe I have delivered on many of the promises that I committed to during my election. I will continue to raise the bar and establish new goals in 2020 that will be in your best interest.

About six months after assuming office, one of my senior deputies retired, which created a vacancy. The retirement enabled me to appoint a new deputy sheriff and fulfill a campaign promise to make the office more culturally diverse. After reviewing applicants, I decided to appoint Kim Warfield as my newest deputy sheriff, who is the first African-American female to ever serve in the history of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Warfield brought with her to this office an array of expertise and experience from her previous position as a New York City police officer/detective.

As I familiarized myself with the office, I noticed that my deputies did not have all the tools necessary to be safe when serving various legal documents and conducting personal property sales. As many are all aware in today’s society it can become dangerous for anyone wearing a badge.

Throughout the history of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the deputies have never held in their possession radios to call for assistance if a dangerous or emergency situation were to occur. Through the support of the director of the Kent County Department of Public Safety and the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Division of Communications, I was able to coordinate in getting five radios loaned to the office until we receive new ones through a Homeland Security Grant in February.

These radios are an important tool in keeping my deputies safe through scanning what local law enforcement is doing in the areas where they are serving and posting legal documents and to call for backup if a critical situation occurs.

This past year the office has continued to utilize our website a lot through posting current information on sales, fees and foreclosure assistance so the public knows exactly what direction to pursue. I believe this has been a successful way of disseminating important information and the communities appreciate the transparency we have brought in 2019. I want to stress the importance of the Sheriff’s Office being transparent and accessible to all people of Kent County and surrounding areas.

In August of 2019, after carefully assessing security and safety needs of the office, I decided to modify the longstanding process of my secretarial staff accepting cash deposits for all sheriff sales. This new process has worked out well and makes it more convenient and safe for the county finance department and those members of the public carrying around large amounts of cash.

In closing, as your sheriff, I intend to be more visible in 2020. I will be attending more community events, educating the public on our office procedures. In addition, I would like to say that my secretarial staff and deputies attempt to make all individuals aware of legal aid resources they might be able to use to prevent a foreclosure or monition sale of their residence, business or personal property.

Our mission is to work for you and work with you through honest, ethical and professional services to the community it serves. The Sheriff’s Office is devoted to our profession and strives to maintain the highest level of public trust while developing our organization to meet the present and future needs of our diverse community.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call my office anytime at (302) 736-2161 or e-mail me at briane.lewis@co.kent.de.us

Brian E. Lewis is sheriff of Kent County.