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Randy Krantz is seeking his fifth term as Bedford County's Commonwealth's Attorney and like all but one of his previous elections, he is running unopposed.
First elected in 1995—his only contested election—Krantz says he has been “very privileged” to have served in his position. “I get to do a job I love in a hometown I love,” he said.
Not that it's always easy.
“There are some very tough days,” he said.
He sees his duty equally between clearing the innocent and convicting the guilty: “To strive to see that justice is done,” he said.
“We can never say as prosecutors that the end justifies the means,” he said of working within the boundaries set by the constitution.
A key to being successful as a commonwealth’s attorney is understanding people, Krantz said, noting that each person he comes in contact with is a unique individual. “True justice requires a fair evaluation of the person and the facts,” he said.
Getting to that point requires his office to work closely with law enforcement agencies as cases are developed.
Krantz said that also means developing the personnel in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, much as he was while working under then Commonwealth’s Attorney James Updike when he was hired as an assistant in the office in 1992. When Updike became Judge Updike in 1995, Krantz was appointed to fill the position prior to his first election that November.
The office today operates under the attitude of “communication, cooperation and coordination,” he said.
“A healthy dose of humility is needed to be a fair prosecutor,” Krantz said.
Krantz grew up here, graduating from Liberty High School in 1978. He went on to earn an associate’s degree in nursing, working as a critical care nurse in the emergency department until 1987. In addition, he had begun teaching full time at the College of Health Sciences in Roanoke as director of the associate’s degree paramedic program and earned a bachelor’s degree in public management in 1986 from Lynchburg College. In 1987 he entered law school, graduating in 1990 from the University of Richmond.
He ended up taking a position with a small law firm in Roanoke before being hired as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Bedford County in 1992. Updike allowed him to develop a multi-discipline team to help with the prosecution of those committing crimes against children. The office’s Violent Crimes Response Team that operates today is based on that same model.
“We’ve had some good success with that,” he said. “I’m very proud of my staff.”
Most recently, Krantz completed his master of arts degree in religion with an emphasis on Christian leadership from Liberty University. He said justice must be balanced with mercy. “A prosecutor has to be tough, but fair,” he said.
He said every case is unique and none are routine.
Krantz carries a full case load in addition to managing the office, which includes five assistant commonwealth’s attorneys, several para-legals, two victim witness advocates and a part-time investigator. “I try to take a vested interest in their training and professional growth,” he said.
And, unfortunately, business is good—and growing.
The prosecutors are in one of the county’s three different courts most every day.
“Crime hurts a lot of people,” he said, looking at the impact it has not only on the victims and their families but also the community as well as the families of those committing the crimes.
And crimes have changed during his 20 years in office. Computer based crimes have added another whole dimension to where and what types of crimes can occur.
Krantz and his wife Dina have two children, Spencer and Brittany. Spencer, a West Point graduate, just recently finished a combat tour in Iraq serving as an armored cavalry platoon leader. He was awarded the Bronze Star while there. Brittany, a graduate of the College of William and Mary with a master’s from Liberty University, is the acting director at the Adult Day Care Center at Bedford Hospital and serves with the Bedford Life Saving Crew.
Most weeks Krantz, or someone from his office, can be found also offering public education talks to any number of groups. Krantz also continues to teach both college students as well as law enforcement personnel. He is on the faculty of three area colleges. “Part of our job is to help the public understand how the legal system works,” he said.
There have been tough cases—the Wesley Earnest murder trial— and sad ones, such as one in which an infant was murdered on Christmas Eve. There have been disgusting cases, such as when two elderly women who were mistreated by their caretaker. Sometimes, the way man chooses to treat one another “can be hard to deal with.”
But as for Krantz, in the end, it’s about treating everyone fairly. The goal: “Treat everybody with respect and the way I want to be treated,” he said. “As long as the people of Bedford have that trust in me, I’ll try to do the very best I can.”