Dozens of people attended a reception Friday for Archie Dunn marking his nine years as Jasper County Sheriff and remembering the change he brought to the office.
Dunn final day as Sheriff was Monday, having lost the Republican primary in August to Carthage Police Capt. Randee Kaiser.
Kaiser went on to win the general election in November and took over as Jasper County Sheriff for the next four years on Tuesday.
Lt. Ron Thomas, who has been with the sheriff’s office through three sheriffs will mark is fourth when Kaiser takes office. Thomas voiced the nervousness and anticipation that people, who work for an elected official who is subject to the whim of voters every four years, feel.
“I know Randee will be a good sheriff, but it does make you nervous with a change like this,” Thomas said. “You never know what the new boss coming in is going to be like, the changes. I’ve seen a lot of changes and I’ve got to pat Archie on the back. He’s done a lot for this county.”
While the past couple of years of Dunn’s administration have been marked with controversy and acrimony with other county officials, some who attended Friday’s reception said Dunn brought good changes to the Sheriff’s office.
“I started with the sheriff’s office 20 years ago and when I started I was making $1,050 a month,” said Major Kelly Stephens, chief deputy sheriff. “By the time you took taxes out of it, it was right around $850 a month is what I was bringing home and at that time it was a family of four, me and my wife and two kids. Pay didn’t change a whole lot throughout those first several years. Sheriff Dunn has been here nine years and he immediately saw the need to try to improve the pay for the employees.”
Stephens pointed out the changes Dunn brought on after he fought for the passage in 2006 of the quarter-cent law enforcement sales tax.
That tax is anticipated to bring in about $3.2 million for county law enforcement in 2013, according to a proposed county budget.
“I’m forever grateful for him to have the courage to take a stand and go out and promote the law enforcement sales tax and work as hard as he did because with that law enforcement sales tax,” Stephens said. “What that did for me specifically was immediately put more money in my pocket to feed my family, to buy clothes and food and live at a little higher standard than I was used to. The next thing it did was it put more equipment at my availability to do my job as a deputy. Prior to him, all the deputies had to buy their own gun, they had to buy their own utility equipment, they had to buy their own vest.”
Page 2 of 2 - Stephens and Thomas also pointed out that the tax brought on a technological revolution for a department that, prior to 2003, had three or four computers for all its employees.
Now the department sports computers in most cars and an array of information technology available for road deputies, investigators and jailers to control crime in Jasper County.
“If you were here in 2003 you could compare the condition the sheriff’s office was in and what it is now you would understand,” Dunn said. “Right now the Jasper County Sheriff’s office is pretty well known around the state of Missouri as being very proactive and progressive in information technology, information sharing areas. A lot of the programs that are spreading statewide now started right here in Jasper County. We were the first to do a lot of things here with technology and they’re spreading across the state.”
For himself, Dunn said he’s looking forward to some time off and time on his farm outside Carthage.
“I’ve got a lot of things at home to keep me busy,” he said. “I’ve got a 70-acre farm and I love being outside and doing things so I’ll be busy for quite a while. I’m going to miss the family at the sheriff’s office. We’re like one big happy family, I love everyone who works there and that’s pretty important to me and that’s what I’m going to miss the most, the close relationships I have with the employees.”