Ionia County, Mich. (WLNS) In the past few months there has been a lot of conversation surrounding law enforcement. Some movements push to de-fund police, others demand law and order.
Being the top cop in the current political climate could be a challenge, but three people believe they have what it takes to be the Ionia County sheriff. They are all republicans and share a lot of the same ideals, but there are some differences.
Robert Rickert is a retired Ionia County jail officer and Air Force veteran. He is a life-long Ionia county resident who worked in the jail for 22 years. If elected, Rickert says he will focus on improving Deputy training. He claims in-person training has gone down over the years, and there is no longer a focus on mental health. Rickert also says he wants to address what he considers a lack of transparency with the public.
Rickert says, “There wasn’t much communication with the public that was going on, there was a lot of questions and I don’t believe they were being answered.”
Rickert isn’t the only candidate with a focus on improving community policing. Doug Gurski has worked on both sides of law enforcement, he has been an officer and a chief judge. The past four years he has been a substitute teacher in the Portland and Ionia school districts.
Gurski says if elected he will be a bi-partisan sheriff. He will focus on cutting crime, drug use and recidivism by creating programs for at risk communities and make sure his deputies return to schools and talk to kids.
“And let them know, we aren’t just out there writing tickets, or stopping cars and making arrests we have their best interest at heart,” says Gurski.
Gurski also wants to update the departments equipment with a focus on technology and improve deputy training.
The current Ionia County sheriff, Charlie Noll is running for re-election although he was never elected. Noll was promoted in 2018 follower Dale Miller’s retirement. Noll says, if he stays there will not be any sweeping changes within the department because he has reviewed, and is comfortable with their polices. Noll says his climb to the top is proof of his dedication and leadership.
“Starting out as a Sargent and just moving my way up show that I have the respect of that leadership, i have the respect of my staff now but I also have the respect of the community.”
Noll did say he is exploring the idea of re-building the county jail, that is 30 yrs old.