Opinion: Why Aren’t Sheriffs’ Races Nonpartisan?

Buchanan County voters cast 14,548 ballots in Tuesday night’s election that helped determine contests ranging from county sheriff to the expansion of Medicaid in Missouri.

Note the extra emphasis on helping to determine, because most of these races were either statewide contests or a precursor to the general election. The exception, in Buchanan County, was the race for sheriff. This contest featured two closely matched Republicans, while the lack of a Democratic candidate meant that the winner gets the job for the next four years.

In the end, more than half of the participants in Tuesday’s election, or 9,575, voted for one candidate or another for sheriff, about double the amount that voted on the Democratic ballots. This county has swung Republican since the George W. Bush presidency, but the GOP turnout implies that at least some Democrats likely asked for a Republican ballot in order to have a voice in the most intriguing local race.

It shouldn’t have to be that way. In the news business, we’ve met our fair share of sheriffs, along with prosecutors and assessors, and found very little difference between a Republican one and a Democratic one. Unlike an elected position with a broad lawmaking or rule-making mandate, like state representatives or county commissioners, a sheriff or prosecutor is more or less a technocratic role that requires a high level of expertise and experience.

So why not make Missouri sheriff, prosecutor and perhaps assessor into nonpartisan jobs, sort of like the City Council in St. Joseph, where candidates don’t run on a party ballot? There are a few states — California, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oregon and Tennessee — that make a sheriff a nonpartisan position.

It isn’t a stretch to suggest that sheriffs in those states are no less professional and dedicated than those in Missouri. In reality, a party designation means very little for the officeholder. In fact, 20 years ago, Bill Puett and Keith Dudley would have been tempted to run as Democrats, because that was the party that ruled the courthouse and got you on the most ballots.

In the end, party-affiliated primaries aren’t a problem for the candidates as much as for the voters, because it can limit the ability of who gets to decide. Sure, voters can ask for the other party’s ballot, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

Most likely, these offices are party-affiliated for reasons of history, inertia and the tendency of party hierarchies to become a special interest in and of themselves. It also has something to do with money. In judicial races, there is evidence that nonpartisan races do not attract as much outside money for campaign purposes.

Tuesday’s election demonstrates that a new way of thinking might be needed.

News-Press Now

NECAC, Sheriff’s Office Teams Up to Build Tiny Homes

Pictured from left to right: Lincoln County Economic Development representative Elaine Henderson, Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jeremy Ketterer, Senator Roy Blunt’s field representative Jennifer Meyer, Sheriff John Cottle, Senator Josh Hawley’s Field Representative Ben Gruender and NECAC Deputy Director of Housing Development Carla Potts.

Last week, Donald Patrick the President and CEO of the North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) along with Carla Potts the NECAC Deputy Director for Housing Development kicked off their newest partnership with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office…the future construction of tiny homes.

Part of Sheriff Cottle’s Workforce Reentry program for inmates and Lincoln County residents, this joint venture is also aligned with the Saint Louis Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program to provide the skills necessary for meaningful employment.

Members from Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley and Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer’s Office were in attendance to provide their continued support to see the workforce initiative grow. Elaine Henderson with the Lincoln County Economic Development team was also in attendance and spoke on the importance of education and workforce reentry for inmates and all Lincoln County citizens.

“We have been arresting people and putting them in jail for 200 years,” said Sheriff Cottle. “Then in a few weeks or months we arrest them again and the cycle continues with no hope of any future or change. This program will help inmates find meaningful employment and move toward a better life.”

Sheriff Cottle, local businessmen and women, the Governor of Missouri, along with members of Congress believe this program will improve the life of every Lincoln County citizen who wishes to enter into the program. The Workforce Reentry Program is expected to reduce recidivism by 30​ percent​.

​Lincoln News Now​

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Completes Accreditation Process

Today, Sheriff John Cottle announced the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has completed the CALEA Accreditation process. The purpose of CALEA’s Accreditation Program is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, long-term planning, fiscal management, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.

The body of standards was developed using source materials voluntarily submitted by preexisting state programs and by many state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide. Those standards were based on case law, state statutes, administrative mandates, model policies and professional management materials. The program is the standard-bearer for modern law enforcement.

“I would like to thank the men and women of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in obtaining such a high standard of professionalism,” said Sheriff Cottle. “This is not an easy accreditation to achieve and it takes months to earn. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Sheriff Cottle earned Lincoln County’s first accreditation in 2008.

Benefits of Accreditation

-Improves officer and public safety
-Addresses high risk management issues
-Promotes operational efficiency through policy development
-Provides a norm for the agency to judge its performance
-Provides a basis to correct deficiencies before they become public problems
-Requires agencies to commit policies and procedures to writing
-Promotes accountability
-Verifies compliance
-Provides a means of independent evaluation of agency operations
-Minimizes an agency’s exposure to liability
-Potentially reduces liability insurance costs
-Enhances the reputation of the agency, thereby attracting the best qualified candidates for employment
-Increases public confidence

Sheriff to be Commemorated With Apparel Fundraiser

​’​Hold the Line’ campaign to feature special apparel in honor of Sheriff Andy Clark of DeKalb County.

A sheriff killed in a crash in DeKalb County, Missouri this week will be remembered with a charitable fundraiser for his family.

Shield Republic Charities will run a “Hold the Line” apparel campaign to raise funds for Sheriff Andy Clark of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, who died in a car accident while responding to a call the morning of Wednesday, June 3. The fundraiser will include commemorative t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, hoodies, ladies’ tank tops and decals made in America. All net proceeds from the campaign will be donated to the Clark family.

Sheriff Clark died while on duty after being called to assist a deputy near Highways 36 and MO 33 near Osborn, Missouri. En route to helping his colleague, his car collided with an SUV, fatally wounding the sheriff and injuring four people in the SUV.

The cause of the crash is currently being investigated; witnesses said Sheriff Clark’s vehicle had its hazard lights on as he crashed.

“Today we share in the heartbreak of the Clark family along with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office team,” said Charlie Romero, spokesperson for Shield Republic. “Our Hold the Line campaign in Sheriff Clark’s honor recognizes the sacrifice of a committed officer who laid down his life in the line of duty. We commend him for his service.”

View the Hold the Line fundraiser page for Sheriff Clark  at https://www.shieldrepublic.com/products/100-donation-hold-the-line-sheriff-andy-clark.

Shield Republic’s Hold the Line fundraisers have donated more than $200,000 this year to the families and units of fallen first responders, police officers and K9 police dogs.

For more information about the Shield Republic Charities, email charities@shieldrepublic.com.

About Shield Republic

Established in 2016, Shield Republic is an American lifestyle brand based outside Raleigh, North Carolina. The company offers creative, fresh apparel and merchandise embody​​ing American pride. Everything sold by Shield Republic is designed and manufactured in the United States. Shield Republic appeals to patriotic Americans p​​assionate about personal strength, second amendment rights and military strength. Through Shield Republic Charities, the company shows appreciation to soldiers, first responders and their families.

Learn more about Shield Republic and shop the online store at https://www.shieldrepublic.com.  Read the Shield Republic lifestyle blog at https://patriot.shieldrepublic.com. Follow Shield Republic on Facebook (@ShieldRepublicCo), Instagram (@shield_republic), Twitter (@shieldrepublic) and Pinterest (@shield_republic).


Flags to Fly Half-Staff in Honor of DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Clark

Today, Governor Mike Parson ordered U.S. and Missouri flags be flown at half-staff at government buildings in DeKalb County on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in honor of DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Clark.

On June 3, Sheriff Clark was killed in a​​ motor vehicle crash while carrying out his duties and responding to assist a deputy on an emergency call.

“Sheriff Clark devoted more than 23 years of his life as a law enforcement officer committed to protecting his fellow citizens and making his community stronger,” Governor Parson said. “He served Missouri with heart and grit, and his final act of public service was responding to assist one of his deputy sheriffs at an emergency scene. Sheriff Clark’s career is an example of public service of the highest order.”

The flags will be held at half-staff on the day Sheriff Clark is laid to rest. To view the proclamation, click here.

DeKalb County Sheriff Dies in Duty-Related Car Crash

At approximately 11:20 a.m. this morning, while responding to assist one of his deputies, DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Clark was involved in a vehicle crash. Sheriff Clark died as a result of injuries he sustained.

Sheriff Clark took office on September 1, 2016. He is the first Missouri sheriff to die in the line-of-duty since 1994. Maries County Sheriff Roy Bassett was shot and killed while assisting a Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper investigate a minor traffic accident. Sheriff Clark was on his way to help his deputy who was trying to catch a man accused of fleeing after stealing a package of beer.

The Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team, Supporting Heroes, and the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association Fallen Star Benevolent Fund representatives, as well as representatives from many sheriffs’ offices across Missouri are providing support.

We pray for the family, friends, and loved ones. Sheriff Clark leaves behind a wife and four young children.

Kevin Merritt
Executive Director
Missouri Sheriffs’ Association