Candidates East, Hickox square off at Candidates Night

Sheriff candidates Ray East and Richard Hickox answered questions about themselves and their views on law enforcement at a candidates’ night forum sponsored by the Fallon Community Theater and the Lahontan Valley News.

Background on each candidate and their platforms are included in today’s LVN. Early voting begins Saturday and runs through Nov. 2 at the Churchill County Administrative Complex’s Commission Chambers, 155 N. Taylor St. Saturday hours are from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

East, who unsuccessfully ran for sheriff in 2010, said he fell in love with Nevada after enrolling at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has lived in Fallon for the past 17 years and has been in law enforcement for 26 years. East said he would like to promote good leadership, combat illegal drugs, restore the Student Resource Officer position to the Churchill County School District and provide firm, fair and professional law enforcement service.

Hickox has been with the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office since 1999, the only law enforcement agency for whom he has worked. He began his career in the jail division and graduated from the Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy in 2001. He has worked the streets in patrol and has also worked in investigations dealing with homicide, sex assault and burglary cases. By working in a small agency, Hickox said deputies wear multiple hats at any given time. For the past three years, he has been a captain.

Moderator Gary Smith asked each candidate to respond to several questions before the audience took their turn. He asked East and Hickox about the Second Amendment and the permitting of law-abiding citizens to keep and carry defensive firearms openly or concealed.

East said he’s pro Second Amendment, and added, “It’s our permit to carry firearms by our Founding Fathers.” He also said he doesn’t see a reason why a person can’t carry a weapon with a concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit. Hickox said the Second Amendment is vital as are the other amendments. He said he’s a life member of the National Rifle Association and a member of the Stillwater Firearms Association. Hickox said he has worked with the CCW process while at the CCSO.

Each candidate distinguished himself from the other. Hickox said by being with the CCSO since 1999, he knows what issues the residents face and has a working knowledge of the other agencies. He said the Churchill County Sheriff’s Deputies Association has endorsed him.

“In 20 years, I have worn every rank,” he said. “It gives me a unique position of what the community needs.”

East said he has both an associate arts and bachelor’s degrees and completed a state certified manager program in 2017. During his career with the Nevada Department of Corrections, he has attained POST certificates in basic, intermediate, advanced, management and executive.

East, who told the audience his children grew up in Fallon, said he has a vested interest in the community. He said his experience with different agencies gave him the opportunity to further himself in training and experience.

Smith asked the candidates if they would change course or keep the CCSO going in its present direction. East said he has talked to hundreds of residents by going door to door and has received feedback on issues such as school safety and an officer in the schools, the drug problem, the growing number of homeless individuals and quality of service. He would like to see a plan or procedure to help them.

Hickox said he doesn’t want to keep the RIF (reduction in force) policy. He said several positions have been recently restored, and he would like to look at the payroll to determine if adding positions would reduce overtime. For example, he said on a shift two patrol deputies and one sergeant are responsible for 5,000 square miles. Hickox said a plan is in action with several agencies to combat the drug problem, and like East, he wants to look at restoring the SRO position.

Hickox said a plan — Point in Time— is in place with Churchill County Social Services and help with resources for the homeless. Likewise, East said funding from various resources is available.

“We don’t want to separate families to provide services,” he added.

Both candidates said drugs are a pressing problem in Churchill County. Hickox said the CCSO could best serve the public with additional officers on the street. East said methamphetamines are a problem.

One question from the audience dealt with the court system and sentencing. East said the sheriff works with the district attorney, and Hickox said the CCSO hands over its report to the district attorney and said the CCSO has no control after that point on the proceedings.

Hickox responded to a question asking him why he’s not rated by the NRA. He said he received his questionnaire on the due date. He contacted the NRA and met with the California-Nevada NRA representative to straighten out the rating. Both candidates answered a question about the right to bear arms. Hickox said the law states who can and can’t have firearms. East said the Constitution allows the carrying of firearms except for certain groups of people such as felons and the mentally ill.

Both East and Hickox said they wouldn’t have any problem signing a waiver to release background information. Hickox answered a question dealing with a missing man who was found deceased in the desert and CCSO policy. He replied that he has reviewed the policy and still feels changes must be made. Both candidates said there’s a distinction between the jurisdiction of the CCSO and federal government law enforcement agencies.

One audience member asked each candidate their employment record in law enforcement. Hickox said he has worked for only one agency, and East replied with 11.

The issue of gun violence was presented because of a fatal shooting in Fallon in July. Hickox said there’s a need to educate the community to minimize the threat of deadly force and to work with businesses during a robbery. East said he teaches a sexual assault defense course at Western Nevada College. He said there’s a need for one-on-one defense skills.

Each candidate said the community has the resources for agencies to forge partnerships in combatting relevant issues to Churchill County. Both East and Hickox said they have had experience in working with different agencies when well-known figures have come to the community for official visits. East said he’s not in favor of arming classroom teachers, and Hickox said it depends on school-district policy. Both said it’s important for the CCSO to investigate sexual abuse cases and to work with the district attorney’s office.


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