Running for Gila County sheriff are five current or former officers.
Two-term Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd faces Darrell Stubbs, Ron Hanse and Richard Shaw in the Republican primary. Whoever wins will face Democrat Chris Bender in the general.
In this issue, we feature profiles on the candidates except for Hanse, who did not respond to emails.
Shepherd, 58, has served as Gila County sheriff for the past eight years.
He hopes to be reelected so he can continue to improve on the changes he and his staff have made throughout the agency “and there are a few more additions we would like to make, including increasing the ability of citizens to get information from the office without having to contact us.”
Shepherd has worked for the GCSO for 35 years and lived in Gila County for 43 years.
He graduated from Payson High School and received his bachelor’s degree, with an emphasis in public administration, from Northern Arizona University. He later graduated from Northwestern University’s Police Staff and Command School in police management.
Since becoming sheriff, Shepherd said he has accomplished quite a few things that he is proud of, including keeping the community better informed.
Under his leadership, the sheriff’s office set up one of the first law enforcement Facebook pages in Gila County. Residents can get information on current events and see the arrest and call log from the day prior on the page. The GCSO also has an app where residents can view mugshots and get community notifications.
You can also request and receive public information, i.e., police reports, online, as well as information on area sex offenders.
“We have also improved training across the agency and implemented modern, legal-based policies that are continually updated,” he said. “We also added the ability for the deputies to work remotely via computers in their patrol vehicles to keep them in the community. We also now provide standardized equipment and uniforms to all deputies.”
In the next four years, Shepherd said he would like to add automated reporting of accident and traffic information to the state to allow for faster retrieval of information by motorists.
“We are also continuing to work on improvements in the jail, to include body cameras and improved inmate monitoring and tracking through the system,” he said. “A rather large goal is to have an online criminal activity reporting system where any citizen can obtain crime information in real time by bringing up a map of their community. We are also continuing to find affordable ways to provide body cameras to the deputies.”
Shepherd says with his history with the agency, coupled with his training, education and experience, affords him the ability to deal with unforeseen issues.
“One example would be the unprecedented challenges we are seeing while providing services to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Shepherd’s top three issues:
“Many factors affect the ability to hire and retain good deputies, however, we plan to take every opportunity to bring good, caring individuals into the service that will serve the citizens of Gila County.”
Size of the county vs. resources
“A continual law enforcement challenge in Gila County is the sheer size of the county with the relative small amount of resources to serve it with. We plan to use advanced management techniques to place the deputies in locations where they can be most effective in controlling crime.”
“No discussion on the control of crime can omit the effect that the drug culture has on the safety and security of our communities. Due to the connection of drugs with practically every other facet of criminal activity we plan to keep addressing the problem with a specialized task force and working with other local agencies to combat the issue.”
For more information, visit www.voteadamshepherd.com.