WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.
As a teenager, J.D. “Danny” Diggs envisioned himself becoming a mathematician, but said he shifted his focus to law enforcement after he took a part-time job as a police dispatcher.
With nearly 15 years under his belt as the York-Poquoson Sheriff, Diggs has found a formula for keeping the community safe and his deputies happy, work he said he would like to continue in a likely fifth term next year.
“It’s kind of a symbiotic relationship. I make this a good place to work, my people work good for me and therefore the community thinks I do a good job,” Diggs said.
Diggs, 58, grew up in Poquoson and became a police dispatcher when he was 19. He served in various roles with the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office before taking a job with the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office in 1989, where he rose to the rank of major.
He said he decided to run for York-Poquoson sheriff while he was working in Gloucester and moved back the county in 1994 so he would be eligible for the 1995 election. He lost the race by 263 votes, but said losing gave him more time to get to know the community and prepare for the next election.
“I learned a lot more by losing than I think I would have by winning,” Diggs said.
Diggs ran again in 1999 and said he won more than 50 percent of the vote in the four-way contest. He has run unopposed in each election since.
He said he believes no one has decided to run against him because of the work environment he has encouraged and the quality of work his deputies are doing in the community.
“We bend over backwards to make sure deputies’ personal needs are met as best as we can,” Diggs said. “We go above and beyond to take care of our deputies.”
He said achieving reaccreditation for the office three times, modernizing police vehicles and earning the respect of the community are his top accomplishments as sheriff.
“Almost every day somebody in the community has something good to say about us,” Diggs said. “It’s very common for us to have positive things said about the sheriff’s office and the way our deputies treat people.”
As a leader, Diggs said he does not surround himself with “yes” people and encourages employees to speak their minds. He said he’s the opposite of a micromanager, instead preferring to delegate authority and allow his employees to feel gratification in their own success.
“I like to empower people to get the job done and make their own decisions without second-guessing,” Diggs said. “There’s a lot of satisfaction when you’re able to do that.”
He said he decided to run for re-election because he’s “not done yet.” If re-elected, Diggs said he intends to keep the office up to date with technology and build upon the mutual respect the office has established in light of friction between police officers and citizens across the country.
“I like to think I still have a lot to offer,” Diggs said. “I just want to continue doing the things that we’ve been doing and enhance upon that.”