IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Candidates for Beauregard Parish sheriff

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Candidates for Beauregard Parish sheriff
With the Oct. 12 election just around the corner, we asked the candidates for Beauregard sheriff why they are running and what makes them the best candidate. (Source: KPLC)

BEAUREGARD PARISH, La. (KPLC) - With the Oct. 12 election just around the corner, we asked the candidates for Beauregard sheriff why they are running and what makes them the best candidate.

Jose Chapa (no party), John Gott (no party), Mark Herford (R), Jim Jacobsen (R), and Rob Moreland (R) are on the ballot. We invited each of the candidates to participate.

For more on what’s on your ballot, click HERE.

For more on the election, visit kplctv.com/politics.elections

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF (Education, career, previous elected positions, family, etc.)

JOHN GOTT: I grew up on a farm in Dry Creek and went to school at East Beauregard, where I met my wife of 32 years, Monya Schales. Monya is a real estate agent for Century 21. We have two daughters Eva and Morgan. Eva is married to Dillon Hunt and they have blessed us with two grandkids: Jagger, 8 years old, and Estella, 3 years old. Eva owns her own hair salon and Dillon is an operator at Ingevity. Morgan is in her 4th year at McNeese.

I have 33 years of service in law enforcement including over 23 years in supervisory positions and nearly a decade as Police Chief. In January 1986, I began my law enforcement career with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department where I worked as an undercover narcotics officer.

In August 1987 I began employment with the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Department as a corrections officer. I remained as a full-time employee of the Sheriff’s Department until December of 1989 when I began employment as a police patrolman with the DeRidder Police Department. I was promoted to Chief of Police in April of 2009.

My law enforcement training began with graduating from the Post Basic Police Academy on June 3, 1988 and from the Post Basic Correctional Officers Academy on August 11, 1989.

My professional development instruction continued at the FBI National Academy in 2003. This program for law enforcement administrators in the United States and throughout the world is accredited by the University of Virginia. I expanded my skillset in the areas of Forensic Science, Management Planning and Budgets, Grant Writing, Legal Issues for Command Officers, Contemporary Issues in Drug Law Enforcement, Effective Communication, Community Policing Issues, and Physical Fitness.

In 2010, I attended the Louisiana Law Enforcement Executive Management Institute, New Chief Management Course. The course curriculum covered a wide range of Police Chief Management topics aimed at the role of the Police Chief. Instruction was given covering Law, Bill of Rights, Financial Management, Records Management, Crime Reporting, Media Relations, Civil Service, etc.

In August 2016, I received the Leadership Trilogy Award from the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association. The three areas of study, Supervisor Leadership Institute, Command Institute for Law Enforcement Executives, and Executive Leadership Institute, provided education on personality diagnostics, leadership case studies, mentoring, developing your people, performance management, risk management and credibility, best practices strategies and techniques, credibility, command discipline and liability, dealing with problem employees, and leading change within an organization. The Executive Leadership Institute completes the course study covering trends in law enforcement, Implications of the 21st Century Policing, Public trust and legitimacy, Bias and diversity, Employee wellness, Transformational leadership, and Social and emotional intelligence.

MARK HERFORD: I am a 1990 graduate of Rosepine High School. After graduation, I attended Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, and later transferred to McNeese State University. It was while attending McNeese that I obtained an internship with the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office, and eventually offered a full-time position in January 1992.

I am married to Melissa Vidrine Herford, and we have two children, Reagan Grace (12 years old) and Jackson Luke (8 years old).

During my career with the Sheriff’s Office, I have worked in every division of the Sheriff’s Office. I started in Corrections, then to Patrol, Investigations, the Beauregard-DeRidder Narcotics Task Force, and in 2003 I was promoted to the Chief of Detectives, where I remained until March of this year, when I resigned to run for the Office of Sheriff. I also worked in the Civil Division for a period of time prior to my resignation. There, I was fortunate to learn the “business” side of the Sheriff’s Office. As the Chief Tax Collector for the parish, the responsibility is enormous and demands experience. The accurate and efficient collection and dispersement of tax payer dollars is vital to the success of the parish.

JIM JACOBSEN: I am a lifelong resident of Beauregard Parish and a 1985 graduate of South Beauregard High School. I am also a career law enforcement officer with 30 years of experience, 5 years with the Beauregard Parish Sheriffs Department and 25 years with the Louisiana State Police. I retired from the Louisiana State Police with the rank of "Lieutenant." For the last 2 years I have been employed by Fluor as a Project Security Manager at the Sasol Mega Project in Westlake Louisiana. I am married and have two children, both of whom attend South Beauregard High School. My wife and I reside in Longville, Louisiana.

ROB MORELAND: I have over 33 years of diverse local, national, and international law enforcement experience that includes training, advising, operations, administration, and program development and management. For the last 11 years, I have served the City of DeRidder and Beauregard Parish as a Reserve Patrol Officer, Sheriff Patrol Deputy, SWAT Officer, and Dive Operations Specialist.

Prior to my local law enforcement service, I spent 22 years in the U.S. Army as a Green Beret. As a senior member of the Special Forces operations staff and Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, I provided tactical and technical guidance to both superiors and subordinates. I planned and executed training and advising programs for police forces in Thailand, Bangladesh, Kuwait, and the Philippines. I also conducted operations with these forces and assessed the effectiveness of the training my teams and I provided. Additionally, I have trained U.S. federal law enforcement agencies to conduct integrated operations. My expertise includes all aspects of intelligence operations, technical surveillance, marksmanship, and SWAT entry operations, among others.

Furthermore, as seasoned leader, I have led teams in combat during the Panama invasion, Iraq, Haitian peacekeeping operations, and Operation Enduring Freedom/Philippines. I also led a 36-man crisis reaction force for Special Operations Command Pacific. In this capacity, my team and I identified, tracked, analyzed, and diffused real-world threats and vulnerabilities.

My wife of 29 years, Ginger, and I chose Beauregard Parish as our home 18 years ago. Our three children, Taylor, Robert Jr., and William, and four grandsons, Hayden, William, Jr., Wyatt, and Jackson also live in Beauregard Parish. We are active members of the First United Pentecostal Church in DeRidder and deeply involved in numerous volunteer community service efforts. We both love Beauregard Parish and are looking forward to the opportunity to serve our friends and neighbors.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO ENTER THE RACE FOR SHERIFF?

JOHN GOTT: When I took over the DeRidder Police Department as Police Chief 10 years ago, the department faced issues that many law enforcement agencies face. Those are issues such as public relations, spending, and officer retention, to name a few. This time has given me the opportunity to bring change to a department, change which brought a positive impact on not only the department but the community as a whole. Doing so without increasing cost to taxpayers and resulting in the DeRidder Police Department being named non-profit of the year by the Beauregard Chamber of Commerce in 2017 and the City of DeRidder being named Safest City in 2018 and remaining one of the safest cities in Louisiana. I want to continue with this type of change as Beauregard Parish Sheriff, making Beauregard Parish the safest parish in Louisiana, for your family and mine to live.

MARK HERFORD: I chose to enter the race for Sheriff for many reasons. Firstly, I believe that I am the most experienced of the candidates currently seeking the office of Sheriff for Beauregard Parish. I have spent the majority of my adult life as a deputy with the BPSO.

I have been fortunate to develop relationships with people from all parts of the parish during my long career and I know the specific needs of the individual communities around the parish. And while we have many common concerns as a parish, these individual communities have concerns that are specific to their area. My plan will address those individual community needs in a manner that will improve the parish as a whole.

JIM JACOBSEN: I have chosen to become a candidate for Sheriff because I believe I possess the unique training and experience to lead the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Department into the future during this time of unprecedented growth. My wife and I have chosen to raise our children here in this community just as our parents did before us. The Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Department needs a strong leader who understands the needs of the community and will put the well-being of the community over special interests.

ROB MORELAND: I chose to become a candidate for Beauregard Parish Sheriff because I recognized the need for integrity, leadership, and accountability within the Sheriff’s Office. Our Parish needs a change in leadership. We need someone who represents our entire population, who is willing to lead the department in a better, safer direction, and someone with a broader perspective who possesses the experience necessary to enact sound policies that enhance our department and serve our public interests.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES YOU THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR THIS POSITION?

JOHN GOTT: My vast experience in managing law enforcement personnel and a large complex budget. I have extensive education and training in law enforcement administration. I am the only candidate with actual law enforcement administration experience. I have a clear understanding of the unique issues, challenges and needs in every area of our parish. I have the proven ability to understand methods by which we can improve our services without the need for additional taxes.

MARK HERFORD: My deep respect and admiration for the people of Beauregard Parish, and my strong desire to serve them with experienced leadership is the first reason I believe I am the best candidate.

My experience within the department gives me an advantage in seeking this office. If elected, I can immediately assume the position as Sheriff. My experience of working in each division of that office, especially as part of the Administrative Team, has provided me with a unique opportunity to observe, learn, and be involved with so many things that one cannot know without having actually worked there.

And as I stated earlier, I have many, many years of working with people from all over the parish. I think that also gives me an advantage in addressing the concerns of the communities within the parish.

If elected, I can begin to implement my plan for the parish immediately. There is no learning curve for me because I have the advantage of knowing how the department operates currently. I will not need an evaluation period to determine what needs to be changed or fixed. As I stated earlier, my years of experience with this department has prepared me to be the Sheriff of Beauregard Parish.

ROB MORELAND: With intention, my wife and I chose Beauregard Parish as our home. Simply put, we love this area, and we love the people. I have dedicated my life to the service of my nation, friends and neighbors, fellow Americans, most of whom I have never had the honor of meeting, and I would like the opportunity to continue serving the people of our parish, many of whom I have met and thoroughly believe deserve the best in representation at the Sheriff’s Office.

I am the most qualified candidate because I have 33 years of unmatched experience. My experience is not limited to training in a classroom, leading from the obscurity of an office, or spent primarily behind the wheel of a patrol car. My experience is real-world, real-time, boots-on-the-ground, planning and executing missions that protect the interest of the people I serve. I have not simply attended academies and seminars for threat assessments and tactical protocols; I have coordinated and effectuated legitimate operations and subsequently instructed said courses personally. I don’t simply suggest how I might handle a large administrative budget when elected; I know I will manage the taxpayers’ money wisely, responsibly, and with integrity because I have actually been accountable for multi-million dollar budgets throughout my career. My goal to better train and equip our BPSO Deputies and Detectives is not empty or flowery words; my career has been dedicated to training those who followed me ensuring that they were most effective in their various positions, while proactive in their sensitivity to the public, and still returning home safely to their families. The BPSO is comprised of dedicated, honorable men and women who have earned the opportunity to be led by an individual who sincerely cares for their wellbeing, their public perceptions, and their potential for growth; I will continue to be a committed leader who invests in the men and women who serve within the department. Furthermore, throughout this campaign coordination with other law enforcement agencies has been discussed in regard to the potential for increased training opportunities, information sharing, and interagency cooperation. Once elected, I will not have to develop mutually beneficial relationships with other agencies as my experience has granted me the ability to work with various federal, state, and local organizations throughout my career and said relationships are already established and in good standing allowing me to immediately put my vast network of resources as well as my current security clearance to work for Beauregard Parish. When I address security in areas such as schools, churches, or public venues I do so not simply because issues such as these are topical or newsworthy at present, but because they have been on my radar of awareness for years as I have instructed numerous security workshops for a wide variety of public and private entities. As such, I will not be developing and instituting untested ideas on how to combat threats made against innocent school children, worshippers, or moms doing their routine shopping at the local grocer; rather, I will be enacting polices within the BPSO that have been tried and proven effective within other departments, and I will continue my efforts to increase public awareness of possible threats while equipping our local schools and churches with proven procedures and courses that best protect Beauregard Parish lives. Finally, I do not simply employ the catchy phrase “The People’s Sheriff” to get attention or to imply an empty promise; however, I am sincere in my desire to represent each resident of Beauregard Parish fairly and equally under the law as I have diligently and consistently served my friends and neighbors throughout my career.

Over the course of this campaign much has been said in the public about desiring change within the leadership of Beauregard Parish; I am the candidate who represents that change. I have valuable experience that can serve our Sheriff’s Office and community well; I have a fresh perspective that has not been inundated by the stagnant system we currently see guiding our local policies, and I have a sincere desire to represent and serve the people of Beauregard Parish. I am the best candidate for Sheriff, and I encourage the voters to put my experience, expertise, and passion to work for the betterment of our community.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PRIMARY GOALS SHOULD YOU BE ELECTED? WHAT SPECIFIC CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE?

JOHN GOTT: Increase in patrols to improve response time to better connect with each community in the parish. Utilize all resources for inmate housing, including the former Phelps Correctional Center. Increase the inmate work crews providing more community service. Combine all 9-1-1 and dispatch communication services in the parish to reduce response time for emergencies. Increase counseling services for families to address issues at the root cause to deter crimes before they happen. Utilize modern technology and implement efficient business practices.

MARK HERFORD: Since I began this campaign, I have stressed to people that I have a specific, goal-driven plan for the Sheriff’s Office. I have spent years putting these ideas together so that they will all work together to provide better service and protection for the people of Beauregard Parish. If elected I will implement the following:

1: I will establish manned sub-stations on the East, West, and South sides of the parish. The stations will have uniformed deputies and detectives working out of them.

2: I will expand the Narcotics Task Force to continue to fight the drug problems within Beauregard Parish.

3: I will restructure the Patrol Division so that more deputies are available during the busiest parts of the day.

4: I will create a full-time Training Division to provide the most up-to-date training for the deputies so that they have all the tools they need to provide the most professional law enforcement to the people of Beauregard Parish.

I truly believe that this plan will provide immediate benefits to the parish and will continue to push the Sheriff’s Department into the future.

JIM JACOBSEN: My primary goals as your Sheriff are to restore the public confidence in the agency and address drug trafficking and property theft in our parish. I will partner with other parish entities to facilitate improvements for parish infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Both of which are public safety issues. I plan to partner with private organizations to address animal control issues throughout Beauregard Parish.

ROB MORELAND: If elected Sheriff of Beauregard Parish I will enact improved training of our current BPSO deputies and detectives. I will reevaluate the current patrol schedule so that all areas of our parish are represented, specifically ensuring that the outlining communities of Singer, Merryville, Longville, Ragley, Dry Creek, and Sugartown have a more visible policing presence. I will institute a policy of “community policing” such that specific deputies are assigned specific areas where they can develop relationships and a measure of trust among the communities within their sphere of responsibility. This concept will enhance existing relationships between the public and the BPSO, while improving neighborhood security, and giving the public a place to vocalize their concerns or assist by providing valuable insight into investigations when necessary. If elected, I am committed to expanding our school security protocols so that our children are protected from the threat of assault, but in the instance that the unthinkable happens our Sheriff’s Office responds as a quick reaction force available to address the threat in a professional and expedient manner. Similarly, I am dedicated to offering training and threat assessments for local assemblies such as churches, civic organizations, or businesses who may carefully consider their policies as they relate to public safety measures. As Sheriff I intend to address the drug related crime that is prevalent within our parish. My goal is to work with members of each community to address the specific drugs of choice and to the best of our ability eradicate them. With that I also aim to lessen the rampancy of burglaries, theft, assaults, and domestic violence that often accompany narcotic related crimes. Furthermore, I will direct my department to respond to reported crimes with efficiency and professionalism; public concern or endangerment will not go ignored and will be promptly investigated. Finally, if elected Sheriff of Beauregard Parish I will represent my constituents with equality and justice; I will be a sincere, consistent, and diligent public servant, and the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office will be marked with integrity, leadership, and accountability.

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