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Sheriff Barnwell will not seek fifth term as sheriff

N-Sheriff-BarnwellFrom Sheriff Bill Barnwell

After 40 years in law enforcement and four terms as Sheriff of Montcalm County, I have decided it is time to retire. Therefore, I will not be seeking a fifth term as Montcalm County Sheriff. I do plan to endorse my Undersheriff Mike Williams for Sheriff should he choose to run for office.

I have enjoyed my career very much and now look forward to spending more time with my wife, family and friends. I want to thank all of my family, employees and the citizens of Montcalm County for their support and confidence during my tenure as Sheriff of Montcalm County. One of the best legacies that I leave behind is the quality of the leadership within the Sheriff’s Office and the professionalism of all the employees. I believe the citizens of Montcalm County are in good hands and will continue to be so with the current leadership at the helm.

I have seen lots of changes in law enforcement during my many years as a police officer. Most of the changes have been positive ones such as better training and equipment. As Sheriff, I felt it extremely important to try and ensure my employees received the best training and equipment possible for their safety and the safety of the public they serve.

Educational requirements have also drastically improved. When I first began my career in 1974 with the Sheriff’s Office there were very few deputies who possessed a college degree in Criminal Justice. Now the majority of the deputies are college graduates and several have obtained their Master’s Degree.

The hiring standards to become a Police Officer or a Corrections Officer have greatly increased as well. Now each employee must pass stringent statewide written, physical fitness and mental health testing even before applying for a job and then must undergo a thorough background investigation before being considered as a Deputy or Corrections Officer. Once hired the employee undergoes several months of training with a certified Field Training Officer before they are allowed to work alone. Even then each year they must complete in service training in order to maintain their skills and professionalism.

Improvements in other areas such as vehicles, tactical equipment, technology and firearms have made officers much safer and more efficient. However, the most important factor remains the person behind the badge.

The costs to hire and train a deputy or corrections officer is not cheap. However, failure to train properly will cost even more in the long run. In order to ensure the citizens of Montcalm County continue to have well trained professionals serving them it is imperative that adequate funding be maintained. Failure to do so will make it much tougher to attract the best candidates which I believe our citizens deserve.

My hope is that the citizens of Montcalm County will continue to support their Local Sheriff and the men and women of law enforcement to ensure they have the very best training and equipment to accomplish a very important and difficult job.

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