Sheriff candidates questionnaire: Where should Barry County deputies be stationed?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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. - JB

Justin David Ruark, D-Cassville

1. If elected, where is your geographic focus going to be in the county and why?

Ruark

Right now there is not a specific area other than the ones where the drugs are. There are drugs in every city in the county and there are drugs in all of the rural areas also. My focus is going to be where the sales and manufacturing of these drugs are done at!

2. Would you support having substations in any part of the county? If so, where? If not, why?

I do not think substations are a good thing. We have one now in Shell Knob and it is never used because there is no computers for us to use there that are able to access the main office software. One of my goals is to obtain the software to be able to work from each patrol car. This would allow every deputy to do their reports from their patrol car instead of having to go to the office or substation anywhere. This would be far better than trying to open substations and wasting tax dollars.

3. What do you see as the higher-crime areas of the county that deserve the most attention?

I would have to say the higher-crime areas are a lot of the rural areas. All of the municipalities have their problems, but there are a lot of crimes which happen every day out in the county. Until the drug world is taken serious by everyone and everyone understands how serious it has become the crime will not get any better. People will steal to support their habits, they will break into your house and take what is yours to get their fix for the day, not one area is safer than the next until we make it know Barry County is going to fight back against any and all who do this.

Danny Boyd, R-Purdy

1. If elected, where is your geographic focus going to be in the county and why?

Boyd

I plan on focusing mainly on the rural areas and areas that do not have police departments. To help decrease drug activity and cattle theft, the secondary county roads need more patrolling.

2. Would you support having substations in any part of the county? If so, where? If not, why?

I strongly support having substations. I would like to set up at least three substations, one in the northern, southern, and eastern part of the county, centrally located in each section.

3. What do you see as the higher-crime areas of the county that deserve the most attention?

As a Sheriff, I would look at the call volume to see what parts of the county has the higher call rate. I would also look at deputies reports to determine which areas need the most attention. From what I have seen, most of the crime rate has been in the county rural areas.

James A. Smith, R-Aurora

1. If elected, where is your geographic focus going to be in the county and why?

Smith

Barry county varies widely in population and economic background, from larger towns like Monett and Cassville, to rural farming communities, to vacation homes, to very remote areas, which includes a large area of National Forest. All of these areas deserve the best enforcement of the law that can be provided. Analysis of reported crimes and proactive officer observations will help dictate which geographical areas receive an occasional concentrated effort to deter crime.

2. Would you support having substations in any part of the county? If so, where? If not, why?

I will certainly encourage and look into the establishment of substations within the county. Several factors need to be addressed, such as cost, location availability, staffing, communication, security and the time officers would be off the streets. Technology advancements would need to be put into place to allow officers the ability to report remotely. I feel a substation in each populated area of the county would help encourage citizen involvement and provide officers a safe place to meet with people and enter report data.

3. What do you see as the higher-crime areas of the county that deserve the most attention?

Crimes in general vary widely by factors including population, time of year, economy and even at times weather conditions. Analysis of crime data reported can assist in identifying and predicting problem area. These areas can then be targeted with saturation efforts to control and deter crime.

Gary Davis, R-Cassville

1. If elected where is your geographic focus going to be in the county and why?

Davis

I am elected to be Sheriff of the entire county. A thorough review of the population densities of the unincorporated areas, the calls for service in those areas, coupled with the type of crimes being committed will enable me to determine where to place the limited resources of the Sheriff's Office without leaving the rest of the county uncovered.

2. Would you support having substations in any part of the county? If so, where? If not, why?

I support substations in those area of the county where because of their geographical location, a rapid response from other locations in the county is not possible. Here again the obstacle to this is the lack of sufficient manpower to properly staff the substation. Properly staffed substations throughout the county would enable faster response times on the part of the Deputies, increase Officer safety, increase the Deputies knowledge of the issues and crime problems in the area served by their substation and improve the interaction of the Sheriff's Office with the public it serves.

3. What do you see as the higher-crime areas of the county that deserve the most attention?

I am not currently in a position that enables me to review the calls for service and follow-up investigations in a manner that would reveal the areas with higher crime rates. There is no question you want to place your resources to the extent possible where your greatest problems are. We must however remember that crime is like a flooding stream and if you block it off in one area it will move to the point of least resistance and flood another area. My ultimate goal is to make Barry County a place where the criminals will know that the cost of doing their crime here will be high. Again, this is a long term goal and will require hard work on my part, on the part of the Deputies and on the part of the citizens of Barry County who provide the resources for the Sheriff's Office and must be partners with the Sheriff's Office in making Barry County safe for all its residents.

Travis Hilburn, R-Cassville

1. If elected, where is your geographic focus going to be in the county and why?

Hilburn

I don't know if I will have an absolute geographic focus, but I do know a lot of the drug activity taking place is in the outlying and rural areas, like around the state and county lines. But, we still have to maintain good coverage throughout the county.

2. Would you support having substations in any part of the county? If so, where? If not, why?

I would support substations if our budget allows it. Everything counts on the money we have to spend and finding the best way that money can be utilized. If I could position substations, I'd like to put one toward the Shell Knob area, then I'd probably put another one in the Seligman area. That's due to population growth and the amount of activity in those areas, because there's a lot of activity in both. The rest of the county is pretty accessible from the Cassville area.

3. What do you see as the higher-crime areas of the county that deserve the most attention?

The entire county deserves our attention, but it seems the majority of drug activity, like the meth labs, are in the rural areas where they don't typically see a law enforcement officer come through very often.

Terry L. Meek, R-Washburn

1. If elected, where is your geographic focus going to be in the County and why?

Meek

I believe it is very important to do daily patrols throughout the entire county, during the day and evening hours, to deter crime and show the citizens that the Sheriff's Office cares about their well being and their property. But the areas I would mainly focus on at first would be the southern areas of the county, which include Eagle Rock, Golden, Shell Knob, Seligman and Washburn. The reason for this, it would be a starting point to combat drug/criminal activity in those areas. I know from experience through working at the Sheriff's office for so long. Knowing the county very well, and listening to citizen concerns over the years, that these are the preferred areas for criminals coming across state lines, and other areas that have little detection into Missouri, for them to transport/import/produce and distribute their illegal narcotics, or other illegal activities, and then ease their way back across state lines to avoid being detected or captured. I have found in my years of experience, continual law enforcement presence which is saturated and focused in problem areas, usually discourages criminal activity. This is not only a proactive approach to minimizing criminal activity, but also brings comfort and peace of mind to the citizens of Barry County. This would also go hand in hand in regards to question #2 about substations in any part of the county. With strategic placement of a substation in one or more of these areas, I believe this would also improve response time on emergency calls and decrease the amount of time law enforcement would have to travel with lights and sirens, at high speeds, putting the public or officer in danger.

2. Would you support having substations in any part of the county? If so, where? If not, why?

Yes, I would absolutely support substations. This issue has been one of my main concerns/goals throughout my whole campaign. I believe substations are necessary to improve our patrolling techniques, response times, and availability to the citizens of the county. During our routine patrol currently, the county is divided up into three zones, the north, south, and east zone. There is currently a substation on the east side, but other locations, strategically placed, would have to be determined for the other two zones to better serve the county. If I were able to achieve this goal, I would ensure the substations would be utilized by the patrol deputies and I also believe this would benefit the citizens in those areas instead of having to drive to Cassville to file a report, if not reported by phone.

3. What do you see as the higher-crime areas of the county that deserve the most attention?

In my experience crime is unpredictable and has to be dealt with on a case by case basis. As law enforcement, when you see the crime rate rising in a particular area, you saturate that area with more law enforcement presence. Crime would decrease in that area and or increase in other areas. In these cases, you have to not only depend on the deputies to heavily patrol the higher crime areas, but also rely on the citizens to report any suspicious activity in their neighborhood. I have seen the citizens of Barry County, in the past, pull together to report any suspicious activity in their neighborhood. A lot of our cases have been solved by a concerned citizen reporting anything that they believed was suspicious or out of place. In many of those cases, the citizen report led to the arrest and prosecution of those particular individuals. Statistics have shown us that crime increases in different areas throughout the year. For example, burglaries and theft calls increase during the holiday season. Domestic violence and disturbance calls increase at the lake and creek accesses throughout the summer months. The only way to be productive is to be proactive with a plan in place to increase law enforcement presence with strategies such as driver's license check points, DWI check points, etc. It is very important to me to be visible in a positive way to ensure the citizens feel safe in their communities.

Candidate Justin Fohn, R-Cassville, did not return his questionnaire as of press time.

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