GREENFIELD — The county’s drug problem, department spending and personnel discipline were hot topics at Friday’s debate between the Republican candidates for Hancock County sheriff.
Incumbent Sheriff Mike Shepherd and challenger Donnie Munden shared their stances on a variety of issues facing the department to a room of 115 people who gathered at the Hancock County Public Library to learn more about the campaign.
The debate, which was moderated by Daily Reporter editor Dave Hill, was co-sponsored by the Reporter and the library.
Shepherd, who is running for a second term, told the crowd he believes he has restored professionalism and integrity to the sheriff’s department since he took office in 2011. Munden, a lieutenant and shift commander for the sheriff’s department, said deputies could be doing more to serve the public.
The candidates’ main focus is on the department’s use of manpower, which both agree has been limited in recent years.
Shepherd said he continues to work to meet the request of shift commanders for more officers on patrol. Munden countered that the department would be better served by dedicating a few road officers to drug investigations instead of patrol.
Shepherd concedes the department could do more to address the drug problem, but he said he will wait until the department’s three most recent hires have been trained and put on duty before he assigns a patrol officer to drug investigations.
“That’s pulling somebody else off the road,” he said.
Munden said the county has seen too many overdose deaths in recent years to ignore the cause of many local crimes. He said the sheriff’s department should take the lead in developing a task force to combat the problem.