Republican candidates running for Buchanan County Sheriff
Puett confirmed to News-Press NOW that he is running for re-election and will put out a statement at a later time. Because both he and Dudley are running as Republicans, they’ll face off in a primary next August. In 2016, Puett won the sheriff’s race with more than 49% of the votes against the two other candidates.
A 17-year veteran of the department. Dudley said he’d like to recruit and retain more sheriff’s deputies and increase communication between local law enforcement agencies. He’s critical of the training deputies currently get, and said his lack of extensive command experience isn’t a major drawback to his campaign because he’d rely on some of the current command staff at the sheriff’s department.
Keith Dudley Current St. Joseph Police Department sergeant
Puett Incumbent: Current Buchanan County Sheriff
The first challenger has emerged for the 2020 Buchanan County sheriff’s race.
Keith Dudley, a sergeant who has been with the St. Joseph Police Department for 17 years, told News-Press NOW he’s running for the position as a Republican.
“Now just seems like a perfect time,” Dudley said. “I’ve had several people approach me and ask me if I would run.”
Current Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett confirmed he’s running for re-election, meaning Dudley and Puett will face off in a primary next August.
“The election for sheriff is nearly a year away,” Puett said in a text message to News-Press NOW. “Right now, I am focused on my job as sheriff, which is protecting the citizens of Buchanan County at the highest level as I have done for the last 32 years, and for many more years to come.”
Dudley said his main campaign platforms include recruiting and retaining more sheriff’s deputies and additional communication with other law enforcement agencies.
“I’ve been out there on the streets my entire career with the Police Department,” Dudley said. “I know what the officers on the ground are dealing with.”
Dudley said he’s worked as a patrol officer, a motorcycle officer and an acting captain at different points in his career.
“I think that gives me an advantage because when you’re off the streets for a bit sometimes you forget how the streets go,” Dudley said.
While Dudley spent some time in a command role, he said he doesn’t see a lack of command experience as a major drawback to his campaign.
“There’s a lot of good people that work in the Sheriff’s Department that will help me figure all that stuff out,” he said. “My main goal is to be a good leader and allow the people in the Sheriff’s Department to do their jobs.”
To that point, Dudley said he’d look at retaining existing staff on a case-by-case basis.
“As for retaining people, you’ve got to create a culture where people want to come to work,” he said. “The main reason people quit in my experience is they quit their managers.”
No matter who wins the job, Dudley said there are plenty of issues for the sheriff to tackle. In dealing with vehicle thefts, he said the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force might be able to lend a hand, though he reiterated many of the same points the Sheriff’s Department highlights, like locking doors and not leaving cars running.
“Ninety-five percent of what they do has to be drug-related with the grant they have,” Dudley said. “But if we can find a nexus to the drug trade, there is some leeway where we can use them in those types of investigations.”
Dudley said there have been issues “in the past” with communication between local law enforcement agencies and added that, “we can always do better.”
He said he would evaluate where sheriff’s deputies are allocated in an effort to reduce response times to the rural areas of Buchanan County. He said deputies will help the St. Joseph Police Department with in-city calls during certain incidents, but that deputies have to remain free for their own calls.
Dudley also critiqued the training sheriff’s deputies currently receive as insufficient.
“I think there is a little bit of a lack in training over there,” he said. “I’d like to see command staff and supervisors get leadership training. I’d like to see the deputies get some crime scene investigation training.”
Dudley also said he’s a supporter of the Second Amendment, but would look at using any sort of “red flag” law on a case-by-case basis if passed in the statehouse.
“It’s a slippery slope when you start thinking about taking people’s rights away,” he said. “I wouldn’t just be for ‘if someone says you’re incompetent we’re going to take your guns,’ that isn’t what those laws are meant to do. They’re meant to protect people who truly have an issue.”
In 2016, Puett won the sheriff’s election with just over 49 percent of the vote. He faced two competitors in that race, Democrat Ron Fisher and Pat Grove, who ran as an independent.