Three vying for sheriff’s position
Brian Marks (incumbent)
Looking to extend his time as Cloud County Sheriff another term, Sheriff Brian Marks lists public safety and officer safety as the two most important components of law enforcement.
Originally from Hutchinson, Kan., Marks received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Kansas State University. Working for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks for 16 years and graduating from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in 1993, Marks made his first successful bid for Cloud County Sheriff in 2008.
Since that time, Marks has lived in Concordia with his wife Joy and both his sons, Tyler and Kyle, have graduated from Concordia High School.
During his two terms as sheriff, Marks can boast a high employee retention rate.
“We have a great staff. They're all really well trained,” said Marks, “And I would love to maintain the high retention rate and high quality of employees that we have.”
However, the staff isn't always able to provide the county with the service it needs, simply because of budget restrictions.
“It would be nice to have more coverage, more officers for patrol and more corrections officers, but the budget won't really allow for it,” he said.
Another effect caused by a tight budget is the inability to keep up with law enforcement technology.
“It's been hard to keep up with new equipment and technology with a tight budget, so that is something I would like to improve,” said Marks.
The county jail, though it has experienced its share of problems, has proven a successful revenue source for the county, as Marks has built ties with Saline and Sedgwick counties to keep the jail at capacity with out-of-county inmates and allowing the county to meet its bond payments. Once the jail is paid off, the money brought in by the out-of-county inmates can be used however the county sees fit.
“We've been seeing positive results from the jail. The county voted to have the jail built and now it is working the way it is supposed to,” said Marks.
One of the biggest challenges that Cloud County faces, Marks remarked, is the prominence of drug use, especially methamphetamine.
“We want to slow it down and, of course, eventually shut it down,” he said, “It's a big problem in the county and in the country in general.”
Anxious to return home, Republican Cloud County Sheriff candidate Brent Gering is hoping to put his 17 years of experience to work for the county where his career started.
A 1995 Concordia High School Graduate, Gering began his law enforcement career with Concordia Police Department after graduation from the 156th Basic Law Enforcement Academy in 1999. In 2003 Gering started work with the Chapman Police Department, becoming a K-9 handler for them. From there, Gering worked for the Dickinson County Sheriff Department, starting in 2008 as a patrolman before becoming an investigator with the Dickinson County Drug Enforcement Unit in 2011, where he currently serves as the Equipment and Fleet Manager.
Throughout his many years in various positions in law enforcement, Gering has gained training in narcotics, interrogation, active shooter and terrorism situations, mental health first aid, and K-9 handling.
In 2005 Gering received the Bronze Award in Police work from the Kansas Attorney General and in 2013 was awarded the Kansas Narcotics Officer of the year award.
Looking to improve relations between law enforcement and citizens, Gering sees an opportunity starting with the smaller communities in the county.
“I would improve the policing of smaller communities and work on interaction with them and gaining their trust,” said Gering, “We need to work on community relations to create a safer and stronger relationship between citizens and law enforcement.”
Gering also wants to make sure that the citizens get to know their officers, building trust and communication between them.
Another major concern is managing a budget effectively, Gering added.
“It's important to stay within the budget so other entities can use that money for things like better roads and personnel,” said Gering.
With his parents still in rural Concordia and a history with the schools, Gering hopes to make Concordia a home for his family.
With experience as a sheriff's deputy here in Cloud County, Greg Lagasse decided that the time was right to make his bid for Cloud County Sheriff.
“Different people brought it to my attention and it felt like a good time,” said Lagasse, “I feel like I can do the job that Cloud County residents expect.”
Originally from Oklahoma, Lagasse now farms in Cloud County and was involved in the sheriff's department as a law enforcement officer, a corrections officer, and a patrol supervisor for a combined 14 years. He's trained in crime scene investigation, railroad accident investigation, drug and alcohol detection, hazardous material recognition, and DNA sample collection.
One concern that Lagasse is determined to address in his campaign is the invisibility of officers in the smaller communities in the county. He has made an effort to attend city council meetings, festivals, and sometimes just eat at local restaurants.
“I've heard so many people say that they don't even know who the sheriff is,” said Lagasse, “And I think that even the officers should be known.”
Communication between citizens and officers is a big need and part of that can be accomplished simply through being visible in the communities, Lagasse believes, and too much emphasis is being put on policing Concordia, which has its own department.
Another issue that Lagasse feels needs to be addressed is drugs.
“There was a big drug ring we busted in '89, down in Glasco,” he said, “but now it's starting to trickle back. It needs a handle put on it.”
Along with improved communication and a crack-down on drugs, keeping the jail full is another priority for Lagasse, while finding a way to trim spending.
“I'm running for the best interest of the county,” said Lagasse, “I'm a taxpayer too.”
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