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Election preview: Candidates for Saline County sheriff: Wally George (D)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wally George
(File photo)
When listing his qualifications for the job of sheriff, incumbent Wally George points to his most prominent item: experience in the job.

George clearly remembers the day he became sheriff of Saline County. It was his birthday, a milestone he shared with previous sheriff Henry Hoff.

Hoff died the day before their birthdays in 1979, and the next day, George was appointed interim sheriff.

He prevailed over competitors for the appointment and in a subsequent special election, and he has been Saline County's sheriff since.

In the 33 years he has been in office, much has changed in the sheriff's department.

"When I started out, we were in the old jail at Odell and Arrow," he said. "There was no communication division. I had four deputies and a couple of part-time dispatchers."

There were no computers, and the average prisoner population was about a dozen at any given time.

George has overseen the growth of both the department staff and the jail population, which now averages in the 60s and occasionally spikes to more than 80.

He has been making changes since the beginning.

He said one of the first changes he made -- and not a universally popular one -- was to opt out of living in the jail building, as previous sheriff's had done. Instead, he converted the living quarters into office space so the staff would be able to work in one location.

"I caught a lot of flak for that," he said. "I thought it would be better to have everybody in one building."

He also oversaw the transition in the late 1990s from the old jail to the Saline County Justice Center.

George is the longest-serving sheriff in Missouri and is among the longest serving in the nation, he said.

"That's a great honor for me," he said. "I've been very fortunate."

That experience has enabled him to develop connections with and earn the trust of many people in the county, he said.

He said his relationships with citizens is key to his effectiveness as a law enforcement officer.

The top problem the county faces -- continued drug production and distribution operations -- is one George fights by depending on the people to be his eyes and ears in the county.

"We constantly have investigations going on targeting meth dealers," he said, noting that information from citizens helps further those investigations. "People know if they want to talk to me in confidence it's going to stay with me."

George was president of the Missouri Sheriff's Association in 1990-1991 and has served on the board of directors since then.

The board, which consists of three active and two retired sheriffs, oversees a $30 million retirement fund.

George lives in Marshall with his wife, C.J., who is retired from Saline County Circuit Court.

Contact Eric Crump at ecrump@marshallnews.com

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I am an unpaid volunteer who provides free training to every law enforcement agency in Saline County, and about 90 other law enforcement agencies, statewide.

My private business is not at the Justice Center. If you would like a tour of their training facility, feel free to contace me, anytime.

I am also the Public Safety Instructors Special Interest Group Moderator for the FBI's Law Enforcement Online website. Through them, I make available free training materials and information to over 47,000 members, world wide, also as a non-paid volunteer.

If anyone has further questions about this, feel free to contact me directly.

-- Posted by james.simmerman on Tue, Nov 6, 2012, at 5:51 PM

I am hopeful that Mr. George will be reelected. I don't have a dog in this hunt, but if the candidate that the naysayers who post here support is as nasty as they I would not want him lurking around with a shiny new badge. Those guys are one bullet only types for sure. LOL

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Tue, Nov 6, 2012, at 5:51 PM

Mr. Simmerman do you still have an office located in the Saline County jail? Don't you also make a pay check on teaching classes at the jail? Maybe if we get a new sheriff you may have to find a new place to do business.

-- Posted by LAMR on Tue, Nov 6, 2012, at 7:52 AM


I believe Sheriff George is qualified to teach law enforcement courses that fall within his range of experience, which is extensive to say the least. I don't know what your qualifications are to dispute this.

As far as "advanced training," some have more than others but that is to be expected, just as it is in any organization. They have the training required to do their job. I don't know what else you could expect of a person who is putting their life on the line every day they go to work.

As far as training that is "certified" (as you say), all the classes taught by the Saline County Sheriff's Criminal Justice Training Center, are approved by the Missouri Dept. of Public Safety, Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission. I don't know of any other certification that is required.

All the courses of the Saline County Criminal Justice Training Center are listed on the sheriff's website at this link: http://www.salinecountysheriff.com/train... .(The Sheriff is the only Saline County official that has developed and maintains a website for the public. This has been done for a number of years at no cost to the County of Saline.)

As far as crime, I think Saline County has a low crime rate compared to other rural areas of the state and country. If it were unusually high, I'm sure someone in the media would be reporting on it because it would be news.)

In the area of violent crime, the biggest financial cost to a law enforcement agency (especially in murder investigations) is usually overtime and court time involved. No rural sheriff's department has the experience level of the MO Highway Patrol's DDCC (Division of Drug and Crime Control). Any law enforcement agency that did not call them when they had an unsolved murder case would be subject to criticism.

I don't recall any unsolved murder cases reported to the Saline County Sheriff's Dept. since Wally George has been Sheriff.

If anyone has a question about anything I have written about Sheriff George, they are welcome to call or meet with me, personally, and I will tell them. I'm easy to find and my number is listed in the phone book: 660-886-7984.

-- Posted by james.simmerman on Mon, Nov 5, 2012, at 7:08 PM

Might not be too many crimes solved here in our county, but we are much smaller than many counties. I'd rather just call in "expert" assistance on the rare occasion that we need the extra hand. I think things have gone pretty great with Wally. Talked to him a few times, and helped search for the mother and child recently with Wally and about 100 people. He had great leadership skills. Came in the room, stood on a chair, told us exactly what we needed to know, told us directions, followed police out there. Just was a smooth event. Wally has my respect.

-- Posted by Tank on Mon, Nov 5, 2012, at 8:46 AM

James, you failed to mention that Sheriff George isn't qualified to teach any of the classes you mentioned. In fact when you retired, you were the one that had an office in the building and used the training room at the sheriff's department. I beg to differ with you about having advanced trained deputies on staff, you know that isn't true. Don't get me wrong, there are good men and women deputies at the sheriff's dept. But not one of them has advanced training. Not one of them has any advanced certifications other than seminars to keep their minimum 48 hour qualifications. I would like to know of one highly trained deputy on staff as you say? I don't see any other department in the state asking for Saline county sheriff's dept help. The deputies are all to busy working court, transporting inmates or serving papers. Our deputies DO NOT even have ticket books, nor have ever written a summons. None of the deputies are even qualified to administer a breathalizer test on an intoxicated person. Just because you go to a 4 hour seminar, doesn't make you qualified in that area. Name one deputy on staff has advanced "certified" training in Homicide, child molestation, rape, blood splatter, arson, robbery, evidence tech, mental issues, traffic, dwi, etc. etc. Not one of them has advanced certification. I challenge people to talk to our deputies off the record and they will be the first to tell you they aren't trained properly. Just saying Wally is a nice guy doesn't make him an expert. If you look at any homicide in the county, who did Wally call to work the case? DDCC which is the Highway Patrol. DDCC (highway patrol)has worked every major case in Saline County as far back as I can remember. Why if our deputies have all this advanced training as you say, does the sheriff have to call the highway patrol in to work every case? You don't have to believe what I'm stating, call DDCC and ask them. I ask people to look at Saline County's crime stats on the Highway Patrols web site. How many crimes are solved in our county. Not very many! So who is working these cases again? The Sheriff of the County always gets the credit for everything, so I give the unsolved crime rates credit, to our sheriff also.

-- Posted by Gumby on Sun, Nov 4, 2012, at 1:35 AM

I've known Wally since he worked for Henry hoff. Both in trouble and after getting my life together. I've known him to be fair and honest! Once when I was working for a donate to the toys for tots, which Wally is a fixture for, a very important and wealthy man came into the station. His grandson had just been put in jail for selling meth, he asked Wally if there was anything he could do for him, Wally's answer was "I can make sure he gets 3 square meals a day. ". I've heard a lot of people talk down about Wally but I'm here to tell you, you can go ANYWHERE in Missouri and talk to any law enforcement personal and they all know and have respect for Wally. I feel before we get more "new blood" into the system we should ask where that blood is coming from?! Wally you have my vote!

-- Posted by left n sf on Sat, Nov 3, 2012, at 8:25 PM

Sheriff George was the founder of the Saline County Criminal Justice Training Center, the only one of its kind in Missouri (2008 -- Present). They provide free training on a wide range of criminal investigation and public safety topics to all the law enforcement agencies in Saline County. No other sheriff in Missouri does that. Check out the Sheriff's website's training link to see the list of over 135 peace officer courses they are capable of teaching (www.salinecountysheriff.com).

Courses taught this year included Firearms Safety and Firearms Safety Instructor Training; Racial Profiling (three separate courses); Hostage Officer Survival; Hostage Negotiations for the First Responder; Preventing Law Enforcement Suicide; Combative Handcuffing; The Unspoken Dialogue -- Body Language; The Public Safety Exception to Miranda; Verbal Judo; Fundamentals of Report Writing; Officer Safety: Trooper Coates Shooting; Trooper Coates Killer Interview; and Introduction to Marijuana.

And, the sheriff's department has several highly trained and experienced criminal investigators on staff. Just because they don't have the title of "detective" doesn't mean they aren't capable.

-- Posted by james.simmerman on Sat, Nov 3, 2012, at 3:14 PM

There used to be detectives, not sure if there are any currently. I feel that there should be a limit on the number of terms a sheriff ( or any elected official) can remain in office, simply to get new blood in the system. Just because something has always been that way; doesn't mean it is the best way of doing things.

-- Posted by litlmissme on Sat, Nov 3, 2012, at 1:00 PM

I don't see one thing about training? Why doesn't our Sheriff's dept. have a detective? All these meth labs and no detective to work cases? Our sheriff's dept doesn't work with any drug task force. The same deputies that have to work court and transport inmates also have to go take reports, Why? There has never been a detective on our Sheriff's dept. Anyone can look at the state crime report and see that crime solved rates in Saline county are some of the lowest in the state.

-- Posted by Gumby on Sat, Nov 3, 2012, at 1:06 AM

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