Editorial – Our pick for sheriff: Hogrefe

Posted 10/25/18

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 …

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Editorial – Our pick for sheriff: Hogrefe

Posted

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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