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Observer Conversations: James Simmons for Kenosha County Sheriff

Editor's note: As the Observer wishes to be fair to all candidates, if there is another sheriff candidate who would also like to sit down for an interview on camera, I am more than happy to oblige. 

Please email me at dthompson@theuptownobserver.com.

KENOSHA ⏤ When Kenoshans think of Kenosha County Sheriff candidate James Simmons, he hopes they think of one word: unity.

“Unity” is the word he chose to describe himself and his approach as potential sheriff during an August interview with The Uptown Observer.

While the interview took place in August, the Observer decided to hold posting until after all anniversary and healing events surrounding the Jacob Blake shooting in 2020 had passed. 

Simmons focuses on accountability

Simmons is no stranger to service and law enforcement. He served in the U.S. Army. He has also worked 16 years in law enforcement ⏤ including as a detective and correctional officer.  

And as policing has evolved over those years, Simmons has embraced likewise evolving measures of accountability. 

An example of his support for accountability comes in how he discusses body cameras. 

(A body camera) covers and protects you. It holds you accountable. And it holds the public accountable.

James Simmons

Kenosha County Sheriff candidate

However, he applies the same level of accountability to civilian groups holding protests and marching towards a common goal. 

He says it is those group’s responsibility to “police themselves”. Further, when they see bad actors in their numbers not working toward their overall agenda, it is their responsibility to address it first. 

EP 14: Do what you can Inside the Mind of Daniel Thompson

In this episode, I talk about how changing ones area of focus can make the difference between meaningfully addressing an issue or just giving up on trying to entirely. — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/mind-of-daniel-thompson/support
  1. EP 14: Do what you can
  2. Ep. 13: The problem of being overly positive
  3. Ep. 12: 'Where have you been?'
  4. Ep. 11: 'Framing and Sobriety'
  5. Ep. 10: 'Loneliness is part of life.'

Focusing on bringing down tensions

If elected, Simmons would like to try to mend fractures in the relationship between the public and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department. 

This comes down to more than policing, however, but also “mending the wounds that were given to us,” he said.

His goal: “Just like we’re sitting here, bring everybody to the table.”

“I believe the main goal is that we must cooperate,” Simmons said. “We must have understanding.”

More training for personnel; Simmons on discretion

To get to further understanding and unity, Simmons would like to implement more scenario-based training in the department. He stated that training would particularly focus on mental health situations. 

Simmons also would like to work with the community by encouraging deputies to use discretion with community members they encounter while on duty.

Discretion, we have a lot of discretion. As long as it doesn’t break the law, I think people are deserving of it.” 

James Simmons

Kenosha County Sheriff candidate

Speaking for all the people

Simmons, if elected, would be Kenosha County’s first Black sheriff. However, Simmons doesn’t put much weight in that potential historic designation. 

“People might as well call me purple or whatever,” he said. “The law is the law, and that’s what I represent.”

His goal, on the other hand, is to speak for residents from every facet of the Kenosha County community, he said. 

I want to be the people’s sheriff,” Simmons explained. “I want to represent any part of any aspect of Kenosha.”

You can find out more about Simmons on his Facebook page here.


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