Trotter announces second term for sheriff
Sheriff Ben Trotter said he plans to run for re-election when filing opens in March.
Trotter was elected to his first term in 2010 after defeating Richard Ingram, the incumbent sheriff who had served for 10 years in a career that spanned 27 with the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office.
Beginning his law enforcement career in Churchill County with the Fallon Police Department in 1995, Trotter eventually was promoted to sergeant. During the time at FPD, Trotter earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Master of Business Administration.
Trotter said there is no hesitation in wanting to be re-elected this year.
“I love my job,” he said before beginning his interview with the Lahontan Valley News.
During the past three years since he was elected in November 2010, Trotter said many good things have happened in the CCSO, beginning with the way the community and many civilian and military agencies came together after a big rig truck slammed into an Amtrak passenger train in June 2011, killing six people including the truck’s driver.
“I was proud of how our community responded to Amtrak,” he said.
Trotter, though, said other agencies have worked hard to refine their response techniques in case a large accident of this magnitude were to occur. Seven weeks before the Amtrak accident, scores of civilian and military volunteers converged at the high school to participate in a jet-crash scenario.
Trotter said he is also proud how the community worked together on the Bango Oil Refinery fire in December and the efforts to look for a missing man northeast of Fallon during the summer.
“Everyone comes out and rallies together,” said Trotter, who is also a member of the Churchill County Search and Rescue.
Since he became sheriff, Trotter said the department has worked diligently to improve its collaboration with the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribal police, the city and the Nevada Highway Patrol.
“Currently we are working with Lyon County to have a regional SWAT team by bringing back the teamwork concept with other agencies,” Trotter said.
Although the Lyon County SWAT team hasn’t been called on too many local cases, the SWAT team worked with the CCSO in December 2012 after an active shooter wounded his girlfriend and proceeded to keep officers at a distance until he took his own life.
One of his campaign pledges in 2010 was to eliminate the undersheriff position, which he did; however, Trotter relies on two experienced captains, longtime Churchill County Sheriff’s officer Mark Joseph and former NHP trooper Mike Matheson, who retired last year.
Trotter said Joseph was a sergeant when he came aboard.
“At the time he was one of those to tell me if I was messing up,” Trotter said. “Mark is a good, solid communicator and willing to come to my office and tell me his perspective.”
Likewise, Trotter said he does the same.
When an opening arose for the second captain position because of Jon Haugen’s retirement, Trotter discovered Matheson was interested in the potion.
“Mike brought a solid background of a law enforcement officer to us,” Trotter said. “His personality was huge — moral, low key, level-headed … that’s how I run things. It was an excellent blend.”
Trotter said he was happy Matheson decided to change uniforms and come to the CCSO.
Trotter said he has also placed emphasis on the law enforcement agency being more proactive. Although the CCSO serves the residents, Trotter also reminded his department of the values statement that refers to the sheriff’s personnel as servants to the people they serve.
“We follow-up more with telephone calls and visits, we have more accessibility and I have an open door for the public and media,” Trotter pointed out. “There’s no territorialism here. Everything we do is open to the public and there is nothing to hide.
“We do our jobs and our guys are out of the office and are visible and productive.”
Every month, Trotter said he posts patrol statistics to show what each officer has done.
Because of the tight budget, Trotter said he has looked for ways to either continue established programs or implement new ones that will both increase the department’s effectiveness while saving dollars. Trotter said he is big proponent of the Reserve Deputy Program, but he said an academy is scheduled every two years. He said cadets must complete a 131-hour POST (Peace Officers Standards and Training) program and be certified. Currently the CCSO has six cadets, and the CCSO just hired two reserves.
Trotter said a benefit of the program is for reserve officers to see the scope of the job and to determine their interests in law enforcement.
A reserve deputy is required to volunteer eight hours a month and 16 hours a year in the jail. If the reservists are a state certified peace officer, they don’t have to ride along with an officer. They also assist the CCSO in providing traffic control at major events such as the high school graduation.
Trotter also kept the DARE program but has made the instruction more streamlined with his officers.
“It is a program that a lot of people like, and it is already installed,” he said.
While DARE focuses on children, Trotter and the CCSO have magazine racks at the elementary schools that carry a wide range of pamphlets for young children to adults. Trotter said some of the topics include safety, drugs and strangers.
As a police officer, Trotter tried to be visible at the schools. As a sheriff, he recently implemented a program whereas deputies fan out and have lunch with a small group of students at the elementary schools and Churchill County Middle School. He said officers have a 20-minute lunch with the student and are identifiable as a law enforcement officers.
“They interact with the kids at random times, and the deputies park their vehicles in a visible area,” Trotter explained.
After he took office, Trotter had everyone in the sheriff’s department tour every private and public school to gain a perspective of the facility and its floor plan.
As for the future, Trotter said he wants to build upon the trust and the positive comments that come to the agency. Plans also include upgrading the data base server shared between the CCSO and police department and work on video technology whereby the district attorney’s office can have access to the department’s videos. Trotter said he would like to see upward of 15-20 active participants in the reserve program.
Trotter knows he will still be required to maintain a tight budget, and as a result, he said the under sheriff and one dispatch position will remain vacant. He has also reduced the number of vehicle purchases every two years from six to four.
Trotter said he likes to be visible in the community and belongs to many service organizations, helps out with Daily Bread twice a month and supports the Restore our College Campus Committee.