The presidential contest may be the most talked-about race of the November election, but Michiganders will be casting their votes for a host of local issues and races.
One such race is for Oakland County Sheriff. As Oakland County trends increasingly Democratic, Republican incumbent Michael Bouchard has maintained his tenure for 20 years and is now running for his sixth four-year term. He faces Democratic challenger Vincent Gregory, who had a 30-year career with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and is a former state representative.
Meet the candidates for Oakland County Sheriff below.
Vincent Gregory — Democratic challenger in the race for Oakland County Sheriff
With a national spotlight on law enforcement following the killing of George Floyd, Gregory says one of his major focuses as sheriff would be to underscores what he calls “community policing.”
“To actually get the officers out of the patrol cars and actually get them more involved in the community,” Gregory explains, ”so that when the officer sees them, they’re not just another person that they’re stopping and they don’t know anything about them. They have some idea of who they are.”
Gregory, who has also served as a police union president and state representative, says he supports enforcing local and state mandates related to COVID-19, such as wearing a facemask.
If elected, Gregory says he would also ensure Oakland County does not hold detainees at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without a court order. He says he would also prioritize the full implementation of body cams within the Sheriff’s Department.
“It’s not up to the sheriff to say, ‘well in my interpretation I don’t believe this applies and I shouldn’t be held to that standard.’” — Vincent Gregory on enforcing executive orders
Mike Bouchard — Republican incumbent running for his sixth-term as Oakland County Sheriff
In response to the killing of George Floyd, Bouchard says he considers the behavior of former Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin ”disgusting” and “criminal.”
While he says actions like the chokehold used by Chauvin violate the code of conduct practiced within the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, Bouchard says the incident highlights the difference quality police training can make. He says increasing funding for those efforts would be a priority if re-elected.
“I’ve been pushing quite strenuously over the past few years,” says Bouchard, “to get the county to build a state of the art training center for Oakland County law enforcement — to really do very in-depth and very stressed training, so that they practice there and they make better decisions.”
Bouchard, who is also the Vice President of Government Affairs with the Major County Sheriff’s Association, says he supports enforcing local and state level health mandates. He says if re-elected his department will continue responding to all COVID-related calls and attempt to peacefully resolve the situation without writing tickets.
“As you look at instances around the country, the standards and the training that they have are clearly evident — or the lack there of.” — Mike Bouchard on the killing of George Floyd