Editor’s note – Both The Fallon Post and Lahontan Valley News are writing recaps from Candidates Night on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The LVN is reporting on the school board, while The Fallon Post is reporting on the city council and sheriff. Questions were submitted by members of the public by email and in person at the event.
Sheriff Richard Hickox is being challenged in his bid for re-election by political newcomer Daniel Sharp. Hickox spoke during Candidates Night this week. Sharp did not attend and did not return the questionnaire sent to all candidates.
Hickox told the audience he has worked at the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office since 1999 serving in the detention center, on patrol, investigations and as a captain for four years in the operations division. He was elected sheriff four years ago. His wife Barbara is a schoolteacher in Fallon and his two daughters graduated from Churchill County High School.
“I’m very close to this community, it’s the community that I love, and I have fought for and will continue to fight for,” he said. “When I got elected four years ago, I made some promises to the community and one of those was to seek out grants and we have received over a quarter-million dollars in grants.”
Hickox said with that money he purchased equipment and provided training. Additionally, in cooperation with the Fallon Police Department, work is being done to reinstate the Task Force. “We have worked with Chief (Kris) Alexander to continue the Task Force and the close relationship that I believe is vitally important to the community that we have between the sheriff’s office, PD, and our other partners in law enforcement.”
The first question focused on the role of the sheriff’s department with other community agencies such as the Division of Child and Family Services and County Social Services, especially during and after COVID.
Hickox explained the process of reviving the Task Force along with FPD and how effective the force has been in combatting narcotics in the community. He said he has a member of his agency that sits on the Safety and Security Advisory Team for the Churchill County School District and Oasis Academy as well. A member of his team sits on the multi-disciplinary team for DCFS, and they have a close working relationship with the Churchill County District Attorney’s office as well as the fire department, working to provide safety and security to our community.
The next question was regarding whether schoolteachers should be armed and the role of the sheriff’s office with the school district and the police department for the safety of our schools.
“Our role is to support the city police department. If there is an active shooter at the school, Chief Alexander and I have already discussed this at length. We will be there and we will respond. We will go in and we will stop the threat in conjunction with the police department. We aren’t going to play Texas-style stuff, (in reference to the Ugalde shooting) we’re going to actually go in and do what we do here in Nevada and that is stop the threat and save our kids.”
In regard to schoolteachers being armed, if the school district were to have that policy, I would ask that they make sure the teachers know how to defend themselves if they have a gun. You have to know how to protect that gun. You cannot just leave it in the filing cabinet or in a purse and leave it on the counter. You have to have some kind of plan.
Drugs and Inter-Agency Cooperation
The next question was about drugs in the community and working with other agencies.
Hickox said the Task Force has won several awards and is considered the most successful in the state and the drug situation is better than it was five years ago.
“One of the biggest problems we’re facing right now, however, is Fentanyl. We’ve had a number of overdoses over the past two weeks just within the county,” he said, “We have to face the Fentanyl problem.”
All the officers are trained in the use of Narcan for themselves and the canine units and they have administered it three times in the past two weeks. Hickox said he also sits on the advisory committee of the Nevada Threat Assessment Center for rural Nevada law enforcement to provide a voice for rural communities.
Staffing shortages that are affecting businesses, schools and agencies across the country were discussed.
“Yes, the shortage has hit us; we’ve had a number of people retire, and we are glad for them,” he said. “As far as recruiting, all departments are pulling from the same pool, but our community is definitely a draw. I think one of the big tools is that we have awesome support for law enforcement in our community.”
Candidate replies to the questionnaire can be found under the Lahontan Valley News tab at nevadaappeal.com