Our pick for sher­iff: Ho­grefe

The Taos News - - FAVOR Y CONTRA -

One of the tough­est races for Taos County vot­ers to de­cide Nov. 6 is that of sher­iff. The elected of­fice is one of the most im­por­tant, re­spon­si­ble for the safety of both the com­mu­nity and the sher­iff’s own deputies.

Two qual­i­fied can­di­dates are run­ning: in­cum­bent Jerry Ho­grefe and chal­lenger Jani Davis.

We be­lieve both are highly qual­i­fied, com­mit­ted to en­forc­ing the law and to mak­ing the depart­ment the best it can be. And un­til re­cently, both can­di­dates have run pretty clean cam­paigns, with­out sling­ing an un­due amount of mud at each other. We can’t say as much for some of their sup­port­ers, and that’s a shame.

Both can­di­dates are sim­i­lar in their de­sire to hire more deputies, ex­pand ser­vices to outer reaches of the county and to crack down on all kinds of crime.

Nei­ther likes to be ques­tioned or chal­lenged, and both can be a bit prickly, es­pe­cially when it is the me­dia do­ing the ask­ing. But Davis has had a short fuse in re­cent days on so­cial me­dia and in emails, mak­ing us won­der if she can han­dle the pres­sures of an elected of­fice.

While both would make a good sher­iff, we give the nod to Ho­grefe. We be­lieve he’s earned a sec­ond term.

We ad­mire Davis, a Repub­li­can, for run­ning and hope she will run again. She was wrongly fired by the town of Taos over an in­ci­dent in which she was ac­cused of us­ing ex­ces­sive force, was ex­on­er­ated by a jury and won a set­tle­ment over her dis­missal. And she’s worked hard dur­ing this cam­paign, blan­ket­ing the com­mu­nity with her signs and pres­ence. As a woman, and a les­bian, she rep­re­sents the di­ver­sity we’d like to see more of, not only in top law en­force­ment spots, but among elected of­fices across county and state gov­ern­ment.

Over­all, how­ever, we be­lieve Ho­grefe, a Demo­crat, has proven his abil­i­ties. He suc­cess­fully lob­bied for more fund­ing for the sher­iff’s depart­ment and hired two more deputies. He said he’ll lobby to hire at least four more in the next four years if he’s re­elected. We’ll be watch­ing his progress on that front.

Ho­grefe has two more decades in law en­force­ment than Davis. That ex­pe­ri­ence shows. In his first term as sher­iff, he’s in­creased train­ing for his of­fi­cers, cre­ated a spe­cial re­sponse team mod­eled af­ter SWAT and is an ad­vo­cate both for deputies car­ry­ing Nalox­one to treat over­doses and for a treat­ment cen­ter for ad­dicts.

He and his deputies have faced some dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions in the last year that could have ended with sus­pects in­jured or dead. In­stead, deputies han­dled the sit­u­a­tions and made ar­rests with­out un­due use of force that might have re­sulted in in­jury or death.

Ho­grefe has faced crit­i­cism for keep­ing some of­fi­cers on staff whose char­ac­ter is in ques­tion. But they can’t be fired out­right even if they should be.

They have cer­tain pro­tec­tions both as gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees and mem­bers of a union. Ho­grefe has to fol­low pro­ce­dure even if he wanted to let some of the deputies go. But we do hope he is ex­tra care­ful in who he hires down the road, en­sur­ing any new deputies are well-vet­ted and above re­proach. They must set the stan­dard for the rest of the com­mu­nity as law-abid­ing cit­i­zens.

Ho­grefe isn’t per­fect. He is the first to say so. But we be­lieve he cares deeply for the well-be­ing of Taos County com­mu­ni­ties, cit­i­zens and his fel­low law en­force­ment of­fi­cers.

We want to see if he can ac­com­plish all he set out to do four years ago.

For these rea­sons, we rec­om­mend Jerry Ho­grefe as Taos County Sher­iff.

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