7 candidates, your choice for Barry County sheriff: Justin Fohn, R-Cassville
Publisher's note: The following Q&As represent the candidates' views verbatim, as submitted via email in response to our questions, and have not been edited.
Current occupation: Police Officer for the City of Cassville
Past experience: Police Officer for the City of Cassville and the City of Exeter. Reserve Deputy for the Barry County Sheriff's Office. Director of Barry County Search and Rescue.
Education: Cassville High School, Class of 2000. Missouri Southern law enforcement certification, 2010.
1. Why do you want to be sheriff?
After growing up in the area and then entering the law enforcement field I've grown passionate about the quality of law enforcement and criminal justice in Barry County. I strive to move Barry County into the next generation of criminal justice. By implementing better communication and technology along with delivering equal and unbiased service to the citizens of Barry County, I can assist in protecting the community I love and call home. I feel there is a desperate need for a better working relationship between surrounding agencies, the court systems and the public. There has been a divide between these entities for some time and I feel mending those relationships will greatly benefit the citizens of Barry County. I want to be the driving force to make a real difference in this community.
2. What makes you more qualified for office than your opponents?
Having worked with most of them, I have a lot of respect for them as law enforcement officers. As a longtime resident of Barry County, I'm very connected with citizens of Barry County and their law enforcement needs. I also know the way things have been ran are not working. I am progressive enough to move the department in a efficient direction, but still provide small town service that the citizens want. As Director of search and rescue, I managed a budget and resources. With this experience, I feel that it gives me a leg up on my opponents by having the very important skills necessary to effetely run the sheriffs office. However, I think Barry County is in need of progressive change; but a change that will fit the needs of the citizens of Barry County. I also feel I can mend relationships with area agencies within and outside of Barry County for a better working relationship and a combined effort to reduce crime in our county as well as the entire area.
3. What changes do you plan to make in the sheriff's office?
There have been minimum standards written into Missouri Law for years and I will bring the agency to those standards. The standards are designed to prevent county liability and ensure equal and proper treatment and investigations to all citizens of Barry County. Proper training and accountable supervision will ensure that those standards and continued. I understand that a tax-based budget limits the resources available to law enforcement, however proper and ethical direction of those resources will provide a noticeable difference in the service performed by the Barry County Sheriff's Office.
4. What specific goals do you plan to accomplish in your first term?
Provide necessary training to deputies and develop a structured operating procedure to ensure complete investigations and successful prosecution of crimes in Barry County. Rebuild working relationships with county offices to provide a better line of communication regarding budget, criminal prosecution and monitoring of career criminals. Also developing mutual aid relationships with other area agencies. Crime does not stop at the Barry County line and people committing crimes in Barry County are also committing crimes in neighboring counties and cities. So working together with those agencies will provide a united front against criminals committing crimes in Barry County.
5. How will you increase funding for the sheriff's office?
Moving from a general budget style government to an expenditure budget will provide transparency to what tax money is paying for. This directed in proper directions will meet the current needs of the Sheriff's Office until further analysis is done to identify what needs are still not being met. State, Federal and private grants are also plentiful with proper research and application.
6. What, specifically, will you do to reduce the drug problem in Barry County?
Proactive enforcement of the end user is and has been the typical focus of law enforcement and is a very important function. The end users are the same subjects committing assaults and burglaries in the county as well. However, participating in regional large-scale investigations to reduce the supply into Barry County will also reduce the amount of drugs available to the end user. Training and application of interdiction can also locate illegal substances traveling through the county. This can reduce the supply as well as generate seizure income for the county if done correctly. Good information sharing and participating in regional drug enforcement can impact the narcotic problem in Barry County on a large scale.
7. What, if any, specific personnel changes will you make in the sheriff's office? Why?
I've said before I do not plan on changing anything for the sake of change. I have respect for everyone that works for the Sheriff's Office and they will all have the opportunity to continue their career with Barry County. I will speak with every deputy, detention officer and secretary to find out their intentions and evaluate the position they hold. Until that happens, I cannot commit to keeping or losing any specific employee.
8. What are your thoughts on body cameras? Is that something you will try to implement in the department? Why or why not?
I believe body cameras are a valuable asset to law enforcement. They provide a level of accountability and invaluable evidence during most cases. With recent laws and civil distrust, I feel they will be required at some point in the very near future anyway so I will try to implement this tool to assist the deputies and be accountable to the citizens of Barry County.