MARSHALL – Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood’s hiring of Det. Anthony Sorangelo provoked a robust response from residents all through the area, from folks talking out in opposition to the hiring at a county commissioners assembly, to the formation of a Again the Blue group to a resolution by commissioners supporting regulation enforcement.
Sorangelo was terminated Sept. 24 by the Asheville Police Division after knocking unconscious a handcuffed man Feb. 11, 2020. Sorangelo was charged with easy assault in June 2020.
On Feb. 12 this 12 months, his case was dismissed. Asheville Police Chief David Zack mentioned that whereas Sorangelo now not faces a prison cost, he violated APD’s use of drive coverage.
Sorangelo spoke publicly June 29 throughout an look with Harwood on WART’s radio present, “Group Radio with Liz Gullum.”
“I keep in mind complaining to my mom, ‘How may this have occurred? What is going on on?'” Sorangelo mentioned about his termination. “She mentioned, ‘You assume you have bought it unhealthy, then keep in mind what they did to Jesus.’
“I am so grateful for what I’ve. Lots of people have come ahead and requested me how I am doing, and that they cannot imagine I am nonetheless in regulation enforcement. I’ve a lot, I am unable to complain. First off, the Madison County neighborhood is superb. Sheriff Harwood (is) a tremendous particular person to work for. Even the deputies on the Sheriff’s Workplace, each one among them has bought to be one of many kindest folks I’ve ever met.”
Through the Madison County Board of Commissioners’ Could 11 assembly, a number of residents spoke out against Madison County Sheriff’s Office’s hiring of Sorangelo.
In response to those public feedback, a newly shaped group, Madison Again the Blue, hosted a rally in help of native regulation enforcement. The rally was held within the car parking zone of the N.C. Cooperative Extension previous to the June 8 Board of Commissioners assembly, throughout which the board additionally voted unanimously to undertake a decision entitled “Conveying Public Assist and Gratitude for Our Native County’s Legislation Enforcement Companies.”
Harwood mentioned he stands by his choice to rent Sorangelo.
“If I had thought for a minute that this man was going to be an abusive police (officer), I would not have checked out him a second time,” Harwood mentioned. “Initially, I knew I used to be going to catch some slack for it. I did not know I used to be going to catch this a lot slack for it, however I nonetheless would have made that call.
“So long as I am the sheriff on this county, I’ll stand in hurt’s means and battle like hell for the folks of this county,” Harwood mentioned.
Relatively than replicate on the previous, Sorangelo mentioned he’s extra concerned with trying forward.
“All this, I might like to have the ability to put it behind me,” he mentioned. “Members of the neighborhood, I need them to guage me for my character, once they get to know me, and so they get to know what truly occurred.”
Police accountability, police-community relations
“These conversations are actually essential to our neighborhood,” Gullum mentioned whereas welcoming the visitors. “We’re sort of at a crossroads. We’ve a choice to make – if we’ll all transfer ahead collectively, or if we’ll preserve splintering into divisive, indignant teams. My purpose and my hope is that our county can develop and flourish collectively, that everybody will transfer ahead.”
With their look on the radio present, Harwood and Sorangelo got the chance to air their ideas.
“It is good that you’ve me right here at this time,” mentioned Harwood, who has been sheriff since 2009. “I have been actively working for the residents of Madison County since Feb. 1999. Throughout that point, I’ve tried my greatest to encompass myself with folks that may make our sheriff’s workplace develop stronger. If I needed to do it over again, I might do it once more.”
“I feel 2020 was onerous for everyone,” Sorangelo mentioned. “Police landed within the highlight. I feel it was a tough time to be a police officer – all over the place on this nation.”
Gullum requested Harwood about police misconduct after Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years for the homicide of George Floyd.
“It provides us all a black eye,” Harwood mentioned. “On the finish of the day, we will not return and rering that bell. What we have to do is transfer ahead as people, as a neighborhood and as a nation.”
Harwood additionally addressed the tense local weather between pro-law enforcement teams and proponents of advocacy teams corresponding to Black Lives Matter, in addition to police accountability.
“We have some good people out right here who’re standing in hurt’s means,” he mentioned. “I fear nights once I go dwelling, ‘Am I going to get that decision that one among my deputies has shot somebody?’ They’ve shot folks throughout us in Western North Carolina. … We have not had to make use of that drive. Within the occasion that occurs, I am calling the SBI (State Bureau of Investigation), and we’ll unravel it.”
Nonetheless, relations may be improved by each side making a acutely aware effort to work collectively, in accordance with Harwood.
“We will must bridge this factor by getting our neighborhood again concerned with our regulation enforcement,” he mentioned. “Our regulation enforcement’s going to must belief the neighborhood, and the neighborhood goes (to have) to belief regulation enforcement. We have to search out frequent floor. Have a look at town of Asheville and what a disarray it is in up there.”
In line with Harwood, the general public could have alternatives to satisfy Sorangelo within the close to future.
On Aug. 11, MCSO plans to carry a neighborhood occasion providing free haircuts to college students.