Two candidates are on the Republican primary ballot for Finney County sheriff.
The candidates are Jerry Quint and current Sheriff Kevin Bascue.
Bascue is a native of Garden City. He attended Garden City High School and graduated in 1980.
After high school he attended Garden City Community College for two years on a baseball scholarship before transferring to the University of Kansas, also on a baseball scholarship.
He didn’t receive a degree at either institution.
Bascue returned to Garden City in 1983, where he worked at the plant now named Tyson for a year before he was hired by the Finney County Sheriff’s Office in 1984 as a jail deputy.
Bascue has worked for the sheriff’s office ever since in various departments, including the patrol division and crime prevention division, and served as jail administrator and undersheriff.
He first ran for sheriff in 1996 and has held the position since then. He is seeking his seventh term as sheriff.
He lives in Garden City with his wife, Norma. He has two children, Aubrey and Alex.
Bascue said he decided to run for reelection because he has a love for the community and the people who live here.
"That's what drives me, that's what keeps me interested, is I still just want to talk care of the folks who need law enforcement services," he said. "This is where I live, this is where my family lives and all of my friends and everybody and I just want to continue to serve to take care of them."
Quint was born in Garden City and raised in Holcomb. He attended Holcomb High School and graduated in 1980.
After high school he joined the Army, where he served until 1984 and then returned to Finney County. He then joined the Army Reserves, where he spent another 19 years before retiring in 2003 as a sergeant first class.
Following his four years of active duty with the Army, Quint did some mechanical work before he was hired by the sheriff’s office in 1991.
He remained with the sheriff’s office for 26 years before retiring in 2017.
Quint then joined the Holcomb Police Department in 2018 in a part-time position after several members of the police department left and the Holcomb City Council, of which he was a member, was concerned about the lack of a police presence at the high school for the upcoming school year.
Quint resigned his position with the council to take the part-time position with the Holcomb Police Department.
He is seeking his first term as sheriff.
He lives in Holcomb with his wife of 20 years, Susan. They have three children, Dayton, Brock and Gracie.
Quint said he decided to run for office because four years ago there was a write-in campaign done on his behalf, with which he had no involvement.
Since then people have approached him about running, and he felt now was the time.
"There's been a few incidents happen since then that I don't agree with, and I decided I think it's time for a change," he said. "I think it's time for everybody that lives in Finney County to have law enforcement that's there for them regardless of where they live or who they are."
Issues addressed by the candidates include:
Bascue said the crime rates in Finney County continue to grow proportionately with the size of the community.
There was a decline in violent crime a few years ago, but since then there has been an upswing, Bascue said. He believes that a lot of crime is associated with illegal drug use, including violent crime, property crime and burglaries.
"I think a lot of them just continue to be associated around the use of the sale of illegal drugs," he said. "That's why it's always a very important thing for me to have a very strong drug task investigation team, which we do ... Drug crimes are just very important to us and we have some state and federal partners that are in town now too that help and assist us accomplish that goal as well."
Quint agrees that there is a drug problem in Finney, has been one as long as he’s been in law enforcement and that it leads to other crimes.
"I think the more proactive step is trying to curtail that and get that under control because a lot of people steal your property and trade it for drugs or sell it to buy drugs," he said. "It goes hand-in-hand, you work on reducing one, it should reduce some of the other ones. The burglaries, the aggravated assaults and stuff like that, that's the big issue. Just trying to reduce crime over-all."
Quint also believes crime rates are increasing right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely domestic violence, because people are cooped up, some aren’t able to work and tensions run high.
Improving community relations
Quint feels the best way to improve community relations is for the sheriff’s office to build relationships and get involved with the community by finding out what they need, what the problems are in their area and working to resolve the issues.
"Building on that and expanding that into the county and reaching out and finding someone in the department who has a passion to do something like that is the best way to start," he said. "You got to have a passion for what you're doing before you do a good job on it."
Bascue believes the relationship between the sheriff’s office and the community is good and it stems from having the majority of officers come from Finney County.
"I think when you live here and you have family and friends, that you have roots established in the community then I believe that you get a deeper feeling of appreciation for taking care of your community," he said.
Improving service to the community
Quint thinks the best way to improve service to the community is by increasing the training of the officers and department personnel.
"I think the citizens of Finney County deserve the best trained, equipped officers that their money can get," he said. "They deserve that, they expect that and they should be getting it and they're not getting highly trained officers and that's a shame and haven't for years."
Quint would also like to offer the training to outlying agencies, such Haskell County, Scott County and Kearny County, because if a time comes when either county needs assistance or Finney County needs assistance, they’d all be on the same level.
Bascue believes inter-agency communication — between the sheriff’s office, Garden City Police Department, Finney County Attorney’s Office and District Court — in terms of computer and software systems is the way to improve service to the community.
It would make it easier for them all to interact and talk with one another, Bascue said.
"It would be so much easier if everybody had similar, the same system so we could all interact with each other but still maintain our security that we all have to have but just make it more accessible," he said.
Bascue said the sheriff’s office and Garden City Police Department are also working on combining their efforts with crimes involving technology.
Bascue said any future issue he can predict for Finney County in relationship with the sheriff’s office is that as the community continues to grow, the size of the sheriff’s office needs to keep pace with it in order for the community to keep providing the services they currently do.
He doesn’t want to see the county reduce the number of law enforcement officers moving forward.
"I believe that that will reduce the quality of life and the safety of life here and that will continue to grow along with the community," he said. "We want to be able to continue to grow our public safety so that we can continue to take care of our folks."
Quint also believes any future issues for Finney County would come from a continued increase in the population.
He doesn’t want to see people defund the police for the same reason as Bascue, saying it would take away the quality of service they can offer the residents.
"Taking and hiring the best people you can for the dollars you have and making sure you put the best product out there for the services that you're offering is assisting the citizens and making sure that that's done," he said.