BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Larry Basford (R) is running for State Attorney against local attorney Wes Hatcher (R).
Who is Larry Basford?
Basford said he is a son to elderly parents, a loving father to a son and father, and a blessed and very thankful grandfather.
His past jobs include working in the oil fields in Louisiana following, in his dad’s footsteps where he made good money.
While at school, he said he interned at the State Attorney’s office in Tallahassee where he got to work with prosecutor Larry Simpson, who prosecuted Ted Bundy for the sorority murders, Willie Meggs who later became a state attorney and Bob Cummings.
“I really liked the work that they were doing,” Basford said. “It was an opportunity to make a difference in our little part of the world.”
As a prosecutor, what do you think needs to change in our criminal justice system?
“People must have faith in our criminal justice system. They’ve got to feel that when they go to court, either as a victim, a witness or a defendant, that the justice system is going to work and they are going to be treated fairly and with respect.
“Now how do we do that?”
Basford said that the judge that it’s not only the judge who sits on the benches responsibility, but also law enforcement protection and service’s and the state attorney’s office, to implement better communication with victims, witnesses, community leaders and the press.
Why are you running for state attorney’s office?
As someone who was born and raised in Jackson County, with most of his friends and relatives residing in the six counties the state attorney serves, Basford said he feels an obligation to make his community safer.
“I think it’s incumbent upon all individuals to leave our part of the world a little better than when we first found it, for our children, for our grandchildren and everyone concerned.”
What is your take on police reform?
“We want to make sure that everybody in our community feels like the justice system is serving them properly. Now, does that mean better training for law enforcement? Absolutely.
“Does it mean better training for the people in our office so that we are more sensitive to the community and the people that we serve? Absolutely.”
Basford also mentions some legislation that he said will most likely be passed on the federal level and then addressed on the state level.
Do you think marijuana regulation can be effectively enforced under Florida law?
Crime labs are not adequately set up to analyze the amounts of THC in marijuana, Basford said. However, there are some private labs set up to do so, he added.
“Realistically speaking on minor amounts , misdemeanor amounts, just token amounts of marijuana,” he said, “It’s just not cost effective to have those types of tests run.”
What has been the most important case that you’ve been a part of?
- Danielle Baker and her three children killed in Marianna involving numerous agencies.
- Prosecution of the gang member from Minneapolis who killed Sgt. Kevin Kight on Easter Sunday.
- Murder of Canadian Air Force Major David Turenne, involving several multinational agencies.
“I think experience is very important in this campaign.
“As the state attorney, you cannot be everywhere and try every case. That’s where it’s incumbent on the state attorney to have the right people in the right places so they can make the right decision to carry out your policies. And in order to do that it’s been my belief that experience, firsthand experience, that it’s easier to follow someone who has been there done that and can mentor you because they have actually done the job before.
“I have been there and worked my way up from the bottom all the way up to the number two position in the state attorney’s office.”
Viewer Tony Bostick wanted to know: How do you plan to handle “over-charging individuals” and “bad police officers”?
Answer from Larry Basford:
“As to the question about ‘bad police officers’:
I believe everyone should be held accountable for their actions. In fact, I have personally prosecuted police officers when they violated the law and will continue to do so.
As to the question about ‘over-charging individuals’:
As a career prosecutor for over 30 years and Chief Assistant, my duty was to pursue justice. My charging decisions were based on the facts, the law, and my duty to protect our citizens’ rights. That is also what we have taught our younger prosecutors. When an individual is arrested by an officer, the case is sent to the State Attorney’s Office to decide what formal charges are appropriate. That decision is made after reviewing the reports and any available witness statements. Sometimes charges are reduced or dismissed, sometimes they remain the same, and other times they are increased. I did not rubber stamp officers’ charging decisions. As your State Attorney, our prosecutors will continue to evaluate each case on its merits.”
To learn more about Larry Basford follow him on social media or visit his campaign website.