PREVIEW: Boone County Sheriff's Race

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BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) – After serving as Boone County Sheriff for more than 35 years, Duane Wirth is retiring from the position, which means his seat is up for grabs. We sat down with the republican candidates looking to become the next sheriff to discuss their top priorities in Boone County.

The two men who want the title of Sheriff each have decades of experience in law enforcement.

Phil Beu worked in the Boone County Sheriff’s Department for 32 years.

“I actually worked everything from the bottom all the way to the top and was directly under the sheriff,” said Beu.

Deputy Chief Dave Ernest started in the Sheriff’s Department actually working under Beu but moved to the Belvidere Police Department three years later where he’s been for the last 27 years.

“I hit every step in law enforcement, I’ve gone from patrol, I was a DARE officer, I was hostage negotiator, accident reconstructionist, I was a detective,” says Dave Ernest.

It’s not only experience that drives both candidates, but a love for the community which they each say they’ll make a priority if elected.

“One of my goals would be to put together a committee where you can meet with, maybe quarterly or at the beginning every couple of months, and just talk over different issues the community has. There’s different issues in Garden Prairie, Capron, Poplar Grove, Candlewick,” sai Beu.

“I would encourage a lot more neighborhood watch groups, citizens, police academies, volunteer groups, we really have to get the community involved,” said Ernest.

Ernest says he’s also been trying to combine city and county drug and gang units for years. The Sheriff’s Department does not have its own gang unit.

”We have to work together, we’re out of the same building, it’s something where we have to share resources of personnel and with dwindling tax dollars everywhere, we have to combine our resources,” says Ernest.

Beu says he too supports this partnership as well as forming a merit commission for things like employment and internal investigations.

“The individual would do an investigation and a disciplinary hearing and forward that on to that merit commission for them to actually make the decision.”

Voters will get to make their decision on the new Boone County Sheriff in less than a week.

The Boone County Sheriff Race is just one of many local races we’ve been previewing. You can find them all on our politics page. A link has been provided in the related links section.

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