I'd like to pose a question to you...what are the duties & responsibilities of the Sheriff?
Now I'll tell you that the "official" list is pretty long, but often times it is forgotten that the responsibilities of the office can extend beyond the law enforcement aspects of the position.
In my 35 years in law enforcement I've had the opportunity to meet many Sheriffs across the great state of Kansas and across the nation and I'm lucky enough to be able to call quite a few of them "friend". Like any other position, there are good ones and some that maybe aren't so good...some that serve for only one term and some that serve their respective counties for 30 years or even longer.
What sets the fine men and women who serve as Sheriff for many years apart from the others you might ask? I've found that it is primarily their sense of responsibility to their community and their staff. They truly understand the very important role that they play in their community and recognize that the Office of Sheriff provides them with a vehicle to be a positive social force for good. The Office should be a platform to engage the community in a conversation about what makes "X" County a good place to live and about how to fix what might be broken or to see what might just need a little mending to make things better.
The Sheriff is the catalyst or change agent and sets the tone for his/her agency and the men & women who work for him play a real role in making positive changes in the community. It's vitally important that the Office functions as a TEAM and like any good coach, the Sheriff has to recognize the accomplishments of the team members and tell them when they are doing well. Having a healthy team which gels well and has excellent communication is one of the Sheriff's secret weapons for success.
I've tried to emulate the men that I consider to be great Sheriffs by having uncompromising integrity and always keeping in mind that equal justice under the law is one of the founding principles of this great country. Now I'm sure far from perfect, and I've made my share of mistakes along the way; but I learned a valuable lesson for every single mistake I made. I've learned flexibility, the art of compromise, when to pick your battles and how to build a coalition to accomplish common goals. I've learned to be positive in the face of negativity and to have the strength of character to not compromise principles whichyou consider important even in the face of overwhelming pressure.
When I interview new employees, I always ask the question, "What is your definition of integrity?" I'm always surprised by how many either don't have an answer for the question or stumble around to find the words to explain it. For me, it's pretty simple...doing the right thing, for the right reason, even when no one else is looking.
When I wake up in the morning I'm thankful to live in Hodgeman County where we respect each other, care for our neighbors, and aren't afraid to pray in public. I'm also humbled by the awesome responsibilities with which I have been entrusted by the citizens and I strive to have integrity in everything I do. Most importantly, I try and stay focused on our common goal...how to make Hodgeman County a little better tomorrow than it was today.
I working towards that better tomorrow...how about you?