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St. Joseph County sheriff candidates face off in first debate

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. --- Candidates for St. Joseph County Sheriff faced off on Thursday for the first time ahead of the November midterm election.

The debate was live and co-hosted by ABC 57 and Indiana University South Bend. Voters said it’s important to have these debates because a candidate’s answer could sway the vote come November.

“Well I’ve been in active law enforcement myself, so I’m trying to see exactly what their positions are,” said Steven Noonan, who attended Thursday’s debate. 

Republican candidate Paul Jonas and Democratic candidate Bill Redman touched on many topics including gun control, community policing, and detaining undocumented immigrants. 

Gun control 

Jonas said he believes in the second amendment and does not believe in gun control. 

“It’s a right and a privilege to bear arms by our Constitution and by no means do I want any type of gun control,” he said. 

Redman said he also believes in the second amendment but wants to keep guns out of the hands of people “that don’t deserve them.”

“We definitely need to make sure that we don’t allow guns to get in the wrong person or people’s hands,” he said. 

Community policing

Redman said he will do whatever he can to build relationships “to make the trust better between our department and our local community members.” Jonas said the department needs to the community’s help “more than anything.”

“As sheriff, that’s what I want to teach my officers is to reach out to the community you serve,” Jonas said.

Detaining undocumented immigrants

Jonas said without a warrant undocumented immigrants should be held “for only 48 hours.”

“I don’t think ICE agents have unlimited amount of time to put a detainer on somebody,” he said. “I think that’s ridiculous.”

Redman said if someone is brought in on criminal charges, the department will deal with the criminal charges first.

“Then the prosecuting attorney has up to 48 hours to charge those individuals,” he said. “We are not going to hold anybody past those 48 hours.” 

Speaking to voters on Thursday, they said their top concerns are diversity, integrity, community, and transparency. 

“We’ve had for years, people that say they’re going to do one thing and then they totally get in office and do something else,” said Ameenah Starks, who went to the debate. 

Starks said after the first debate she is sure of who’ll she will be voting for in November. There will be a meet the candidates forum on October 29 at 6 p.m. inside the St. Joseph County Public Library on Main Street. 

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