Updated: Oct 22
On Wednesday, September 20, after escaped convict Danelo Cavelcante was finally captured, a second 'Safer Communities' press conference was held on the Old Courthouse steps in West Chester. There, another large crowd gathered to hear Chester County 2023 GOP candidates share remarks on the failures of leadership in the current Sheriff's Office, and the obvious need for change. Rarely has such a single event laid bare so many issues and unforced errors by an existing administration. Like the first, this second 'Safer Communities' Press Conference was timely, to-the-point, and -- while highly supportive of law enforcement -- pulled no punches on the incompetence of current leadership.
He started with a little background, stating that he is not a politician but a small business owner, and a former Deputy Sheriff, who is practical, hands-on, and fixes problems.
He then shared some important facts about the Sheriff's Office. He noted that he was a Deputy under both the former and current administrations, working right next to a group of fine men and women who are still there (although many have left.)
He went on to say that just four years ago the Sheriff's Office had approximately 60 working deputies, and that we are now down to about 18; that we had eight award-winning dogs, now there are just two; and that we had a Fugitive Apprehension Team, which is now gone, and could probably not even be staffed today.
Kofroth noted that none of this happened because of budget cuts, outside pressure, or lack of funding. He said that, previously, all of these things were in place for one reason -- To prepare for an emergency.
He noted that under such circumstances day-to-day operations may continue to move forward but that, eventually, there will be an incident. And when that incident occurs true leadership is proven. Or not.
Kofroth stated that there has been no leadership. He noted that this is what many of the deputies who left the office said.
As it relates to the Cavalcante incident specifically, Kofroth quoted the words of Chester County Prison Warden Howard Hollins from Monday, September 18: "If we had dogs, we would have gotten him that day."
Kofroth continued, saying that four years ago, the minute a call came in, the Fugitive Apprehension Team would have been dispatched: Eight handlers, eight dogs, and eight back-ups to protect the handlers and the dogs. He said that the escaped convict would have been tracked and contained quickly. He said that deputies would then give notice that the dogs were coming in, and the prisoner would usually surrender even before because they don't want to get bitten.
He noted that many in the audience had seen pictures of Yoda, the dog who subdued Cavalcante. He said that the end result is exactly the same as it would have been...except that, now, two weeks later with thousands of man-hours, equipment, plus additional risk of injury or death, it all comes with a much bigger big price tag...and you are left paying the bill.
He said that thanks to the mismanagement of Sheriff Maddox and Chief Deputy Dykes, the incident unnecessarily became a crisis and international news, with both the Sheriff's Office and County residents suffering the consequences. And he cited the Citizenry's feeling of helplessness to do anything during the two weeks of the manhunt.
Kofroth concluded by saying that you can help prevent incidents like this from happening again, and restore the award-winning office to what it was four years ago, by electing him as the next Chester County Sheriff.