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Two Candidates Seek Brooke Sheriff’s Office

WELLSBURG — On Nov. 3 Brooke County voters have a choice from two candidates for sheriff: Kevin L. Heck, a Democrat; and Richard Beatty, a Republican.

Both are Follansbee residents with backgrounds in law enforcement.

A Navy veteran, Beatty has 27 years’ experience in law enforcement, having served 16 years as a federal air marshal and assistant supervisor to the agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Pittsburgh field office; four years as a corrections officer for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons; and seven as a Follansbee police officer.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Bethany College and a master’s degree in mental health counseling at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

He said if elected, he will work with local and state officials and the local drug task force to fight the opioid epidemic and to make recovery and rehabilitation more accessible; ensure deputies have proper training and equipment; heighten the visibility of sheriff’s deputies in the community; and maintain an open door policy so residents may voice their concerns.

Heck was employed by the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department for 32 years, during which he served as a corrections officer, shift supervisor, school resource officer and director of the emergency 911 center and logistics, which involved maintaining department vehicles and equipment, serving as liaison for various information networks and other tasks.

As a school resource officer, he trained for dangerous school situations, spoke to classes about various legal and safety issues and aided state officials in removing youth from unsafe homes. Heck said if elected, he’d educate seniors about fraud and combat elder abuse; work with the Brooke County Commission to modernize the 911 center and provide the sheriff’s department with new technology; work to educate youth about cyberbullying, drug and alcohol abuse and other issues; and “restore integrity and professionalism to the department.”

Both were asked the role that community policing should play in law enforcement.

Beatty said, “With the current climate being what it is in the U.S. right now, with the rioting and looting going on across our nation, community policing is more important than ever. When the police develop a rapport with community members and take the time to engage with them, trust can be established rather than the distrust that exists in many communities.

“When community members trust their police force, they are more likely to share in the details of what they see is going on throughout as well as offer up suggestions on ways to effectively police those matters. As a result of the collaboration, both the police and the community can effectively address these concerns and thus instill a sense of pride to live in and be a part of fixing the problems in their communities.”

Heck said, “Community policing brings police and citizens together to prevent crime and solve neighborhood problems. One of the main advantages of it is that it reduces fear in the community. With an increase in police presence in the neighborhood, residents feel more secure. This feeling of security helps the police establish trust within the community.”

Heck said past and present programs that have supported community policing include Neighborhood Watch programs, which often involve senior citizens; Drug Abuse Resistence Education, which built a rapport between the police and youth; and See Something, Say Something, which was established by the Department of Homeland Security as a measure against terrorism but also has been used to encourage residents to report any suspicious activity.”

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