Sheriff race: How should the Barry County jail be managed?

Wednesday, July 20, 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

James A. Smith, R-Aurora

Smith

1. What experience do you have that will help contribute to running a jail? What will be your approach to jail management?

As former Chief Deputy of the Barry County Sheriff's Department, I have experience in the operations and management of the jail and staff, so I am familiar with the responsibilities and requirements. I further assisted in establishing the computer network and administrated updates of software used to book in inmates.

As for my management approach for the jail; if it isn't broken, don't fix it. Policies and procedures will be reviewed to ensure compliance with the law, especially those laws changing on January 01, 2017, and the current jail staff will be evaluated on job performance and efficiency, the same as all other employees. Our current jail staff has done a great job of ensuring the overall safety of the inmates and staff, and ensuring that rules are being followed to reduce the risk of lawsuits. The jail can be one of the biggest liabilities facing the county, so a well-trained and reliable staff is crucial.

2. Would you like to keep jail staffing levels the same, have less, or hire more?

The current staffing level would most likely remain the same, at least initially, until a proper evaluation could be completed to determine the needs. Funding will always be an issue with all divisions of the department, so those areas with the most critical needs will be addressed first, whether it is determined to be jail, office, patrol, or equipment needs.

3. What administrative experience do you bring to the table? What is your employee management style?

I have the administration experience of being a former Chief Deputy of Barry County, so I have had occasion to be the acting Sheriff in the absence of the sitting Sheriff. One good example would be September 11, 2001. Sheriff Epperly was stuck in an airport on that fateful day, as all flights were grounded. While serving as acting Sheriff, I began coordinating with local vendors to ensure a supply of fuel and other essentials needed to protect the citizens of Barry County would be available for all emergency services should the chaos continue. I have had the opportunity as acting Sheriff to deal with personnel issues and internal affairs investigations. Further, I am currently assigned as Captain of the Cassville Police Department, second in command and acting Chief in the absence of the Chief of Police.

My employee management style consists of leading by example. I would not expect an employee to complete a task that I wouldn't, or couldn't do. I will provide employees with the information and training on what I expect from them and will allow them to prove their abilities and willingness to perform as expected. Employees will be evaluated on their performance and may be reassigned, promoted or moved within the department depending on their merits and work ethics. All promotions however will be based on abilities and testing.

Danny Boyd, R-Purdy

Boyd

1. What experience do you have that will help contribute to running a jail? What will be your approach to jail management?

I have had first line supervision training that provided productive knowledge in how to effectively be a manager and leader. I have the experience and know the protocol of transporting and booking in of prisoners and know the constant cautions of safety while dealing with prisoners and inmates. I do not have access to the current budget of the jail, but I do know that with the constant rise of inmate population it will make careful budgeting a priority. It is my understanding that currently the jail is running efficiently and within budget. As usage goes up cost will rise, which will require careful and ongoing monitoring.

My first approach to jail management would be to meet with current jail administration and all staff members to get a working knowledge of the policy and procedures of the jail. After assessing the feedback of staff members regarding concerns or issues with the jail, I would be able to determine if changes or improvements were needed.

2. Would you like to keep jail staffing levels the same, have less, or hire more?

It is my understanding that currently the jail is running efficiently and within budget. Whoever is elected Sheriff would have to evaluate the staffing to determine if more staff members are needed. This is something that would have to be determined after taking office.

3. What administrative experience do you bring to the table? What is your employee management style?

I have had first line supervision training, I have had the experience of supervising road patrol officers and investigation. I have experience in evaluating and disciplining officers. I have been on several oral boards for the hiring of new officers. I have years of experience of reviewing officers reports, crash reports and probable cause affidavits for warrant arrests.

I believe in a working management style. I feel a leader should be able to perform any task or job that his subordinates are expected to do. A good leader should have the knowledge and understanding of every area that he is in charge of and oversees. A good leader is one who listens to his staff with an open mind and communicates effectively.

Justin David Ruark, D-Cassville

Ruark

1. What experience do you have that will help contribute to running a jail? What will be your approach to jail management?

I will treat this like any other job by making sure everyone has what they need to perform their duties as far as the staffing is concerned. Listening when there is problems brought to attention.

2. Would you like to keep jail staffing levels the same, have less, or hire more?

From what I have seen there seems to be enough jailers, but I think there could be some restructure as far as the scheduling. It is important to utilize the resources one has before trying to add to the staff numbers when it is not always within the budget to do so.

3. What administrative experience do you bring to the table? What is your employee management style?

I have been in management positions before in some of my past employment. I was responsible for making sure those who worked on my team had everything they needed to complete all of the jobs I assigned to them each day along with the quality of what they produced. This was not always an easy task but was always achieved. All I ask of anyone is to be honest with me, those they work with, and with themselves.

Employee Management Style: I am always firm but fair, I never asked anyone to do anything I would not do myself. I like to gain feedback from the team when a job is accomplished. I believe this improves the relationship in the department but also helps others learn from any mistakes made during the process. I also believe it is important to try and keep the department moral high.

Travis Hilburn, R-Cassville

Hilburn

1. What experience do you have that will help contribute to running a jail? What will be your approach to jail management?

I have been to a number of jails throughout the state and observed how they are operated, including the Barry County jail. I have spoken to the jail administrator and I will use her knowledge and experience in the jail to learn and refine it's operation.

2. Would you like to keep jail staffing levels the same, have less, or hire more?

As with everything else, budget will determine what we have to work with. This will also be determined by what the administrator's needs are and what I feel their needs are after evaluating the current administration.

3. What administrative experience do you bring to the table? What is your employee management style?

I have been a business owner, a chief of operations for the military, and have developed and coordinated special operations for the Highway Patrol. I like to work closely with subordinates rather than from behind a desk. I will never ask someone to do anything that I won't do myself. I am always available for questions and I will be available to Deputies and other employees whenever the need arises.

Gary Davis, R-Cassville

Davis

1. What experience do you have that will help contribute to running a jail? What will be your approach to jail management?

My final position before retirement from the FBI was as the Security Officer for a division with over 900 employees in four locations. I managed physical and personnel security issues, created and implemented procedures to handle bomb, terrorist and other threats, developed and implemented plans for the emergency relocation of staff, and business continuity. Supervised or conducted investigations into allegations of employee misconduct. These duties while focused on keeping the employees and physical structures safe translate well into the management of the jail with the goal of keeping the prisoners in and contraband out.

My management approach is set forth in the answer to question 3.

2. Would you like to keep jail staffing levels the same, have less, or hire more?

The Barry County Jail has been in existence for decades and has had limited problems. That says to me that it is currently staffed by competent personnel who are good at their job. It does not mean the physical plant is in good shape or that the staffing levels are where they need to be for officer safety and prisoner safety. All of this will be addressed based on meeting with the current jail management and staff and my own research into what is required by law, what we need and what we can afford as a county.

3. What administrative experience do you bring to the table? What is your employee management style?

My administrative experience starts with my education. I have a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and am a graduate of the FBI Executive Development Institute. In addition, I have formal training in Equal Employment Opportunity for Managers -- Interpersonal Communication -- Creating World Class Organizations -- Business Area Analysis -- Management Training for Supervisors

I am the only candidate whose background includes strong management and leadership positions -- I have established and supervised several law enforcement infrastructures including a Criminal/Drug Intelligence Squad and other analytical centers to combat terrorism. Led critical law enforcement task forces and missions, developed standard operating policy and procedures, prepared job descriptions, assessed personnel requirements, selected personnel, developed training programs, supervised up to 39 investigators and analysts, wrote grants, developed and managed budgets in excess of five (5) million dollars (not counting personnel costs), and acted as a liaison to multiple state and federal law enforcement and other agencies. I will use this experience gained from my FBI career to work closely with other law enforcement agencies, other public officials and agencies, and the citizens of Barry County to improve public safety and to provide the citizens of Barry County with a modern and effective Sheriff's Office that is based on the values of integrity, service and professionalism.

My management style is to set the mission and goals, assemble the best people to reach them, train the people, and empower them to carry out the mission and reach the goals.

Justin Fohn, R-Cassville

Fohn

1. What experience do you have that will help contribute to running a jail? What will be your approach to jail management?

I have spoken with several other area jail administrators and have reviewed the upcoming Missouri Core Jail Standards being proposed in the Missouri Sheriff's Association. I feel there are some strengths and weaknesses in the Barry County Jail, however nothing that some training and proper resource allocation wouldn't correct. I feel my management and leadership qualities will assist with brining the jail up to standards and beyond.

2. Would you like to keep jail staffing levels the same, have less, or hire more?

Increased staffing levels would always be preferred, however with limited budget that isn't always possible. I would increase training opportunities for current staff and evaluate the need for more staff to maintain a safe environment for employees and inmates.

3. What administrative experience do you bring to the table? What is your employee management style?

Directing the Barry County Search and Rescue allowed me to gain valuable knowledge of budget and resource allocation as well as conflict resolution and personnel management. Assisting in training new officers also brings a level of leadership necessary in any administrative position.

I prefer to lead staff instead of manage personnel. I feel proper placement of trained staff and line supervisors allows for fluid operations and good morale. A good leader will have no problem getting their hands dirty along with the "troops".

Terry L. Meek, R-Washburn

Meek

1. What experience do you have that will help contribute to running a jail? What will be your approach to jail management?

I worked in the jail when I first started with the department. I performed the daily operations required of my duties and also worked several rotating shifts if an employee did not show up for work or called in sick. I was present when we had a riot in the jail years ago and I worked several hours by myself cleaning up the mess after it was over with and the inmates were locked down for the rest of the night. The jail is very demanding when it comes to dealing with the kind of inmates we deal with it. You have to maintain the jail required by law and ensure the treatment of the inmates by law, this being medical treatment and other situations that come up. Once again, I would have to spend more time in the jail to ensure the jail management is being performed and required by law.

2. Would you like to keep jail staffing levels the same, have less, or hire more?

The safety of the jail staff is important to me. I have seen in the past, dealing with certain inmates, that you can't let your guard down for one minute. I would look into what we have now and ask the jail staff currently their opinions and ideas about more staffing and then consider what I needed from there. The jail staff we have now have been working inside the jail for some time now and know more areas of improvement and then I could see for myself if I could make those improvements.

3. What administrative experience do you bring to the table? What is your employee management style?

I have held supervisory roles in every single job I have had. I know what needs to be done and know what it takes to get the job done. I believe that employees must take responsibility for their actions, but I also believe they need to be rewarded for their performances for going above and beyond their duties. The safety of the employees is the number one goal and money should not be an issue when it comes to their safety. At the end of their shift they too would like to go home to their families just like everybody else.

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