Hardee County Sheriff Arnold Lanier
Email Sheriff Arnold Lanier
Interview Question: Are you planning on running for a second term for Sheriff?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: Yes.
- Sheriff Lanier’s Confirmation: Sheriff Arnold Lanier confirmed that Major Randy Dey would be his Colonel in running for his second term. Currently, Colonel Claude Harris is second in command.
Interview Question: Why did you decide to change political parties?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: The main reason for switching parties; for the past 50 years the Democratic Party had stood behind their values. Now, the Republicans seem to be the ones standing behind their core values. The two parties seem to have switched positions.
Interview Question: What’s been some of your major obstacles that you have encountered since becoming Sheriff?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: Budgetary Downturns.
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: It feels like I came into office at the wrong time. Since coming into office our first two budget cuts were cut by 1.7% and the third budget was a 3% cut. Take for instance our Drug Task Force, which usually in this department we have $175,000 a year in the budget and can fluctuate but is roughly that on average. With budgeting downturns, now that particular department came down to $25,000 a year. We’ve had to make some adjustments which caused three positions to be cut. Our current budget now is 7.3 million and down to 94 positions. Next budget is in July and as a first responder, we turn our budget in by June.
Interview Question: This must really affect your abilities in keeping up with the rise in crime, especially in the Drug Task Force Department?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: The Sheriff’s Department’s Drug Task Force works with the Wauchula Police Department, they have 2 Drug Task Force Agents and the Sheriff’s Department has 4 Agents on our Task Force. We work together and manage to keep up with the drug problems here in Hardee County.
Interview Question: I’m curious about the search and seizure after a drug bust. What happens to the property and monies confiscated from drug bust? Do these funds go into the Sheriff’s Department’s budget, adding to the funds available for equipment and other necessities that the Sheriff’s Department may or might need?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: Law Enforcement has a trust fund that these seizure funds go into called the LETF (Law Enforcement Trust Fund) fund. The County Commissioners are the ones that control and give permission to both the City and County Law Enforcement Agencies to use those funds.
Interview Question: We’re in the community have you seen the largest rise in crime?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: The largest rise crime has been in domestic violence. It seems like families are feeling alot of stress during these economical downturns. In 2008 through 2009, crime dropped 8.1%. The next year, crime went up 20% with domestic violence being the largest portion of those crimes. Since October 1, 2010, 80 criminals have been put in prison. Since 2009, we have put 160 criminals in prison.
Interview Question: Do you ever have any problems with State Attorney, Jerry Hill, no-billing any of the Sheriff Department’s criminal cases?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: No, we haven’t had any problems. We mingle with collaborative efforts in working with the State Attorney’s Office to put the criminals away.
Interview Question: Has there been any challenges with the County Commission?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: The budget and working well with the Commissioners is most important and maintaining training and certifications.
Interview Question: So how are things going with the new commissioners? Sue Birdge and Grady Johnson, Sr.?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: Good.
- Things seemed the going very good. With the economy going through these budgetary downturns, these times with budgeting has been tough. We just try to work with each other and ask for what we most importantly needed.
Interview Question: It would seem to me, personally, that you and Commissioner Grady Johnson, Sr. would have a lot of common ground since Commissioner Grady Johnson has a past career in law enforcement?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: It helps when you have someone who understands the inner and outer workings of a Sheriff’s Department.
Interview Question: Has any of the commissioners ever attacked you?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: No.
- No Commissioner has ever attacked me. We’ve got good rapport.
Interview Question: How do you feel about having to live in a glass house your whole career?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: It makes you a better person. You definitely have to watch your P’s and Q’s. You’re under constant scrutiny, but you can’t make everyone happy.
Interview Question: Do you feel that people who have been less than examplenary employees or public servants should run for positions such as City/County Commissioner or County Sheriff?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: There are individuals out there; including law enforcement that I think you have to take on a case-by-case basis.
Interview Question: So what kind of things can we look forward to from the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: The goal was to come down on narcotics and enhance the department more. Would like two more resource officers, so we could have 2 at Hardee Sr. High School and 2 at Hilltop Junior High School. This is an area I would really like to enhance but upgrading and enhancing security for schools as such, gets very expensive which goes back to money and the budgetary situation.
Interview Question: There’s been rumors about the Hardee County Sheriff’s Department expanding law enforcement jurisdictions inside the City of Wauchula and Bowling Green city limits and just completely eliminating the Police Department’s altogether? Is this true?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: No. That’s been an idea tossed around for some time and on the table for years. It goes back to when Loran Cogburn was Sheriff in 2005 and it came up as an idea to save money when budgets were cut. But as far as the Sheriff’s Department taken over the Police Departments that would be completely up to the City Commissioners to decide, in looking at saving money. Polk County Sheriff’s Department has taken over Fort Meade and Mulberry Police Department’s; it seems to be the trend right now.
- Interview Question: What are the demographics for Zolfo Springs, Bowling Green and Wauchula?
- Sheriff Lanier’s Response: Zolfo Springs has about 1200, Bowling Green is about 1500, and Wauchula has around 4000.
I recently spoke with Sheriff Arnold Lanier and asked him if another interview would be possible; an interview that would place more focused emphasis on the narcotics problem and unsolved murders in Hardee County. Sheriff Lanier agreed, that another interview meeting in the near future would be possible and that his door would always be open.