Sheriff spot requires refined skills

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The Selma Times-journal

Cops and robbers is a familiar childhood game that invokes a child’s imagination based on the principle that they can be whatever they want to be.

However, a real police officer’s job requires a little more than just a colorful plastic gun and phony handcuffs. It requires skill and a whole lot of experience, which is a perfect definition of exactly what type of person is expected to play the part of the Dallas County Sheriff.

Guns and handcuffs aside, the sheriff’s position requires a lot of time, with far more responsibilities than most people are aware of. According to Dallas County Chief Deputy Sheriff Randy Pugh, a Sheriff’s responsibilities include being the chief law enforcement individual of the county, maintaining law and order in the county and overseeing the running of the county jail. On top of that, the sheriff’s duties also include overseeing a staff of 81 employees, made up of emergency personnel, jailers, deputies and clerical workers, and providing court security.

Pugh, who began working for the police department straight out of high school and now has 24 years of experience, said the sheriff’s position requires a very special candidate.

The office of sheriff is a four-year elected position, with an annual salary of $55,000.

Candidates do not have to be certified for the position.

A regular work day for the sheriff may include securing the courtroom, sending deputies to pick up criminals in other county jails, transporting juveniles and overseeing the deputies that are out in the field.

Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman said the most important part of his job is to be able to see that every citizen is protected, to make secure their civil and constitutional rights and to give them a feeling of safety in the home and

while they’re at work.

“In my line of work, I deal with a wide variety of people,” said Huffman, who will be seeking re-election in the June 6 primary. He is running against Lee Green. “I deal with the young and the old, blacks, whites, male and female. I deal with them all.”

Huffman said in his personal opinion, he believes that any candidate for sheriff should be a person of integrity and honor and should be entirely professional in their duties. He also thinks that any candidate should have arrest powers, a qualification that is not required for the position of sheriff.

The only qualifications a candidate must have to run for the sheriff slot include: a valid driver’s license, a high school diploma or GED, must be 21 years old, a resident of the county and have no prior felony convictions.

“Higher education other than high school is not required for this position,” Huffman said. “However, a higher education is definitely a plus.”

Pugh

said the job involves a tremendous amount of responsibility.

“A sheriff has to perform duties that cover everything and must be on call 24 hours a day, so this job takes up a lot of time,” Pugh said. “However, it is a very rewarding career.”