Patrick “Pat” Labat

Patrick “Pat” Labat.

Occupation: Retired Chief, City of Atlanta Department of Corrections

Previous elected offices held: None

Other community service experience: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta; Boys Scouts of America Troop 100; Jack & Jill of America, Inc., Buckhead-Atlanta Chapter; Jackson Memorial Baptist Church; Junior Corrections Leadership Academy; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; Leadership Atlanta; Next Level Boys Academy; North Atlanta High School PTSA and Booster Club; and Regency Park Homeowners Association.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

My 30-year career in public safety, and 10 years as chief of the city of Atlanta Department of Corrections, uniquely positioned me to lead the Sheriff’s Office. Executive-level leadership matters. I look forward to serving the citizens of Fulton County by providing the active, engaged and transparent leadership you deserve. The loss of the agency’s prestigious Triple Crown Accreditation, which allows agencies to standardize practices and defend against costly lawsuits, was a tremendous blow. I accomplished a great deal for the city of Atlanta and will expand upon those innovative ideas at the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.

What is the biggest issue facing the Sheriff’s Office and how will you address it?

Remote, disengaged leadership has led to personnel turnover and low morale. This critical issue must be addressed. We must reduce attrition and attract and retain quality people. Rather than operating as “second responders,” the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office should operate as first responders, partnering with local law enforcement, meeting the 15 police agencies throughout the county to suppress crime and enhance public safety. The Sheriff’s Office should set the tone for law enforcement throughout the county. Fulton County deserves an active, engaged, forward-thinking sheriff. The sheriff’s office can – and must – do more, and Fulton County deserves better.

Why should voters choose you instead of the incumbent?

As an active and engaged leader known for managing by walking around, it wasn’t unusual to see me throughout the jail regularly. I’m accessible, transparent, and will build a strong team, but I won’t pass the buck. I formed successful partnerships with local leaders, law enforcement agencies and community stakeholders because I believe in maintaining an open line of communication. My team and I routinely collaborated with several local, state and federal agencies. I’m proud to have been named the Georgia Jail Administrator of the Year in 2015 and 2019 – a testament to my work ethic and ability to lead.

What strengths and weaknesses have the coronavirus pandemic crisis revealed in law enforcement and jail management in Fulton County?

Ensuring front-line essential workers receive hazard pay should have been a central focus of the sheriff, but was not. To that end, I issued a call to action to our county leaders to ensure those workers are justly compensated.

Although Gov. Kemp authorized the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office to enforce the emergency order, the sheriff stated that enforcement was being deferred to local deputized police agencies. Not only are there not enough police deputized, the FCSO must find new ways to partner with the 15 cities within the county to serve as a force multiplier and improve public safety.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.