Retired lieutenant endorses sheriff’s candidate

Published 4:33 pm Friday, October 4, 2019


My name is Michael Darden, a retired lieutenant with the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office (SHSO), where I proudly served for 28 years. I am a lifelong resident of Southampton County and although I no longer actively serve, I want to continue to better this community. I believe that I have a unique perspective concerning the upcoming Southampton County/City of Franklin sheriff’s election and who is best qualified for that job. I have known all four of the sheriff’s candidates for 25-plus years. Each of these men have had lengthy careers in law enforcement and each possess unique skills. However, I feel there is one candidate that stands out above the rest and will serve the citizens of Southampton County and the City of Franklin to the best of his ability. That candidate is Mark Turner, a lifelong resident of Southampton County with strong ties to the community and a staunch commitment to public service. I have found Mark to be extremely reliable, trustworthy and knowledgeable. Mark is a dedicated law enforcement professional who has served the citizens of our community in an exemplary manner and also as a volunteer firefighter in Branchville. These strong attributes would be of great benefit to the citizens in our community and greatly enhance the future of the SHSO.

Mark started his career with the SHSO as an intern while attending Radford University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. After graduation, he was sworn in as a deputy sheriff and since that day has worked in all capacities within the SHSO to include: the jail and jail farm; patrol division as both a deputy and supervisor; investigations’ the Virginia State Police multi-jurisdiction Drug Task Force; and the Drug Enforcement Administration Federal Drug Task Force. Having worked in these capacities, Mark has gained valuable experience in working with a variety of Federal, State, and Local agencies. This exposure has provided Mark with an insight as to how these departments operate and to also establish contacts in these departments which are vital in effective modern law enforcement.

During Mark’s career, he has gained the respect of the community, fellow workers, and other law enforcement officers. His achievements along with his outstanding work ethic have resulted in Mark receiving numerous awards from various agencies. Mark was also the recipient of the Valor Award for Bravery and Heroism for Actions in the Line of Duty, which is SHSO highest award.

Mark knows firsthand the hardships that working at the SHSO can cause on personnel and family life, and Mark’s leadership style is sensitive to this. As a first line supervisor, he attempted to keep the deputies and their families’ needs as a high priority. During the past year, the SHSO joined the newly formed Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Organization. As part of that organization, each Sheriff’s Office picked one employee to serve on the Board of Directors. An election was held at the SHSO resulting in Mark being selected as that representative by his peers. This alone shows Mark has the support, trust and confidence the deputies desperately desire. Having worked at the Sheriff’s Office myself for over 28 years, I have seen Mark progress from a young intern with enthusiasm and ambition to a well-respected law enforcement officer and leader in the community.

Mark is extremely familiar with the inner workings of the SHSO and the current personnel, having worked side by side with these men and women for over 20 years. Mark would not require a learning curve after election before implementing changes at the Sheriff’s Office that he believes necessary.

I truly believe that Mark has a vision for the SHSO based on experience and reality that would take the department in a positive and productive direction. I also believe Mark would be a decisive and effective leader beginning on day one of his administration. For all the reasons outlined in this letter I highly recommend Mark Turner to be the next sheriff of Southampton County/City of Franklin and I will be voting for him on Nov. 5.

Lt. Michael L. Darden (Ret.)