Candidates for sheriff bring experience to the table

Lee Becker

Lee Becker

QUESTION: What life experiences or personal qualities prepare you to be an effective sheriff?

The sheriff is a facilitator, an ambassador and the base for the moral fiber of the sheriff?s office. Who is the most important person at the sheriff?s office? The personnel who meet the public and respond to calls.

As sheriff, I treat others as I would expect to be treated?with dignity and respect. My life experiences have helped me to deal with people on a personal level. I have experienced divorce and the loss of a child, parent and siblings; I understand the emotional side of these matters.

As for my career, I started as a part-time officer in Peabody. I took the Peabody Police Depart?ment from handwritten scattered notes to typed and filed reports. Likewise, I have taken the sheriff?s office from scattered pieces of information to a better work flow, including a records management system. I continually make ?measured change? to keep a fresh direction.

I am a certified law enforcement officer with the state. I have attended specialized training to interview abused children. I feel strongly about issues relating to children. It?s my job to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

I take stands on issues and act accordingly when necessary. I am a ?public? person involved in the communities. Whether it be coffee, lunch or your front porch or mine, I like to visit and meet people. When I am driving around Lake Shore Drive at the county lake and a group of children say, ?Hi, Lee,? I feel I have done something right.

From the north to the south end of our county, people here greet me by my first name. People are not afraid to talk to me. While I was walking down Hillsboro?s Main Street the other day with my son, a group of men, in plain clothes, took time off their project to visit with me. They knew me. We talked politics. It was good. I am in the public, you know me.


QUESTION: What is your position on the county commissioners? proposal to build a new community corrections center in Marion County?

I spoke up about the need for the jail facility six years ago. A lot of time has gone into the solution. Commissioners Randy Dallke and Dan Holub and I attended training to help us measure needs versus wants in a jail facility. A consultant was hired to project Marion County?s need for bed space. Today I have 17 inmates in our jail, and I have 11 beds. I believe a 30- or 40-bed facility will meet our needs until the next step, which would be consolidation.

The logic behind the commissioners? proposal is this: It does not pay to build fewer than 50 beds, according to the architect. The money saved by cutting the 30 or 40 additional beds is not cost effective. Over the life of the facility the additional beds should pay for themselves.

My position about the jail is that 20 or 40 beds adjacent to the present jail will meet our needs, and we can still rent out space. But to bring this facility online will require expenses, with no end in sight to those expenses.

After the November vote we will explore options.


QUESTION: What would be your three priorities for the immediate future that would contribute to a safer, more law-abiding environment in Marion County?

First, service to the public. The sheriff?s office is a public servant and I would strive to keep improving our service to the public.

Second, since I have taken office, I have consistently worked to eradicate illegal drugs. I believe illegal drugs undermine families and are a major source of theft and child abuse.

I will continue to build on past successes. I have always tried to go past the ?end user? and go instead after the supplier or supply line. Once the sheriff?s office has made the arrest, it is up to other elected officials to prosecute those cases.

Third, the sheriff?s office has excellent community support, and I would like to build on that support with prevention efforts?reaching into our communities to educate people about addictions before those behaviors can take root. I would use the resources I have worked with other local police agencies to establish, and build upon them. Those include D.A.R.E., Dragnet and Door Check Tags.

I would like to explore an ?Internet Crime Stoppers? reporting media. I have implemented the sheriff?s office K-9 program and will continue to use that program in conjunction with local police departments as a deterrent in our schools, communities and highways.

And I would use electronic fingerprinting to join in our fight against illegal aliens, drugs, person crimes and burglaries on a national level.

Rob Craft

Rob Craft

QUESTION: What life experiences or personal qualities prepare you to be an effective sheriff?

I served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps (1975-79) and attained the rank of sergeant as a crew chief on a search and rescue helicopter. In 1981, I joined the Kansas Highway Patrol and was stationed in Marion County. I have remained a resident of Marion County throughout my 261⁄2-year full-time continuous career with KHP, residing on 190th between Marion and Hillsboro.

During those years I was involved in multiple law-enforcement activities and responsibilities ranging from daily patrol to felony investigations and apprehensions.

I have worked closely with grade school, high school and college students, and have more than 2,400 hours as a law enforce?ment instructor not only at the KHP Training Academy in Salina, but also at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson and various other facilities.

I previously served as vice president, then president, of the Marion County Peace Officers Association. I was invited to serve, and accepted a two-year term on a 12-member international law enforcement advisory board. In 2004, I attended classes at the Institute for Law Enforce?ment Administration in Plano, Texas.

My duties have allowed me to gain vast experience in law enforcement supervisory duties as well as training and managerial requirements. I will bring the experience and skills acquired over my 261⁄2-year, full-time law enforcement career to the Marion County Sheriff?s office in order to provide the citizens of Marion County with a professional, proactive and service-oriented sheriff?s department.

QUESTION: What is your position on the county commissioners? proposal to build a new community corrections center in Marion County?

I support a new jail facility.

The current jail is outdated, unsafe in some areas and does not meet some of the required guidelines. To update the current jail would be expensive and only provide a temporary fix. We would again have to visit this issue in the future.

By building a facility now, we will have more control in deciding what we want. If we do nothing at this time, we will even?tually be forced to do something in the future and that may not provide us with many options to choose from, and the cost associated with building a new facility will only increase in the future.

The option of remodeling the current jail facility would be expensive and extensive. We would be left with a facility that may be able to provide a few more years of usefulness. The funds used to renovate the current facility would be better spent on something that will serve us for many decades to come.

The cost and risks associated with transporting and housing prisoners in an out-of-county facility would be a burden to the taxpayers in that the commissioners would have to include that cost in the sheriff?s budget. Finding those funds within the current budget is not feasible.

The added risk to officers and civilians alike greatly increase during transport.

I believe it would be in our best interest to build a jail facility in Marion County rather than send our money to another county to help them pay for theirs.

The jail facility question will be decided by a popular vote for Marion County residents, and the decision handed down by that vote will be the ruling that I, as your sheriff, must and will abide by regardless of my personal preference on this issue.


QUESTION: What would be your three priorities for the immediate future that would contribute to a safer, more law-abiding environment in Marion County?

1. The recent trend of child predators coming to and living in Marion County is something I will work diligently to address. All transgressions in this area will be aggressively investigated and pursued. The proximity of a known offender will be made known to nearby citizens so they may take appropriate steps for the safety of their children.

Training a new officer, only to see them leave in a few years or less, is not cost effective or prudent to a quality, professional sheriff?s department. The sheriff?s office must strive to retain the highest level of law enforcement officers with integrity and strong family values.

These officers will be trained in proactive law enforcement to help prevent local youth from becoming part of the system of offenders. We will work closely with the schools, churches and youth groups to assist in reinforcing strong family values and a positive lifestyle that will provide our young people with a bright future and the ability to achieve a high quality of life.

2. Illegal drug use and manufacture are two concerns I will work diligently to curtail. By aggressively combating the manufacturer of illegal drugs, along with the end user, we can reduce the availability as well as the market for those products.

If the producer has no market in the vicinity, they will relocate, and if the end user has no supplier they will be more apt to relocate. If only one of the two is addressed the end result will show little change.

3. Rural thefts are an increasing problem that must be hard fought by observant patrol and officer familiarity with the area. We and our property must be secure in our homes and fields.

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