7 candidates, your choice for Barry County sheriff: Terry L. Meek, R-Washburn
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: Detective with the Barry County Sheriff's Office
Past Experience: 13 years with Barry County Sheriff's Office
Education: Graduate Missouri Law Enforcement Academy (600 Hrs), Joplin.
1. Why do you want to be sheriff?
I have committed myself to Law Enforcement for the past 13 years, primarily working for the Barry County Sheriff's Office. During my employment with the County I have developed a personal relationship with many of the citizens of Barry County. When the current sheriff of 20 years announced his retirement, I knew this was my opportunity to move forward and continue protecting the citizens of Barry County in a fair, honest and compassionate manner. I am dedicated to my job and would like to continue to make Barry County a safe community for people to live and raise their families. I have the experience and leadership to be your Sheriff.
2. What makes you more qualified for office than your opponents?
The position of Sheriff requires everyone to be post certified. My opponents all have law enforcement experience, but my experience has been at the County level with the Barry County Sheriff's Office for the past 13 years. I was hired to work in the Barry County Jail, from there I transferred to the patrol division. I served as Supervisor of Day Shift Patrol and held the rank of Lieutenant for 9 years, until I was promoted to my current position as a Detective. Some of the duties I have performed are booking in inmates, answering calls for service, writing reports, community policing and serving civil process. I have investigated many types of cases including Burglaries, Stealing, Kidnapping, Child Abuse and Neglect, Child and Adult Sexual Assault, Rape, Domestic Violence and Drugs. I'm already familiar with the daily operations of the sheriff's office as well as its policies and procedures. I graduated from the Missouri Southern Law Enforcement Academy in Joplin and have more than 1,000 hours of Post Law Enforcement Training. I have been certified as a crime scene investigator and a "Less than Lethal Force Instructor. I am a member of the SWAT team and responsible for the training of the team members. I currently serve as a board member at the Child Advocacy Center for abused children, and serve as the Chief of Police for Washburn.
3. What changes do you plan to make in the sheriff's office?
I would like to create substations in rural areas of the county. The purpose would be to increase patrolling in those areas that have higher crime and drug activity and currently have little to no coverage. I would like to explore other training avenues for the deputies. The deputies currently receive a minimal amount of training that is required to keep your post certification. I would prefer training be done through instructors and not online. I would also like cameras in all patrol vehicles and body cameras for all deputies.
4. What specific goals do you plan to accomplish in your first term?
Referring back to Question 3 regarding changes I plan to make in the sheriff's office. Realistically, I think that I can accomplish these goals during my first term.
5. How will you increase funding for the sheriff's office?
The sheriff's office and jail works from an annual budget set at the beginning of each year. Most of the budget comes from the county general revenue account and is based off of county revenues. State and Federal grants are currently being used to fund some of the safety equipment purchased and to fund the supplemental salaries of deputies. I would try to increase the funding through more grants at the State and Federal level as well as making sure there is accountability for what is spent.
6. What, specifically, will you do to reduce the drug problem in Barry County?
In the past, Barry County had a deputy that was paid by a grant to work drugs. Grant funding soon became available to multi-jurisdictional task forces. Barry County joined the task force and eliminated the deputy that was assigned to working drugs because the task force had more resources available to them than one deputy working alone.
As the need for more drug enforcement increases, I would like to explore a better way to utilize our budgeted funds to help minimize the increasing drug problems we have in our County.
7. What, if any, specific personnel changes will you make in the sheriff's office? Why?
At this time, it is not my intention to eliminate or make any personnel changes.
8. What are your thoughts on body cameras? Is that something you will try to implement in the department? Why or why not?
Body cameras are needed for officer accountability and the safety of the department. I would like to purchase cameras for all the deputies as funds become available.