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Walter seeks sheriff’s position

Runs for Democratic nomination in Webster County

Tony Walter

Background

Sgt. Tony Walter came to Fort Dodge in 1999 to attend Iowa Central Community College, where he earned a degree in criminal justice. Recently, he has taught at Iowa Central as an adjunct instructor.

Walter began his law enforcement career with Humboldt Police Department in 2002. In 2004, he accepted a deputy position with the Webster County Sheriff’s Office.

Since 2007, Walter has been the K-9 handler for the department, receiving a few awards from the U.S. Police Canine Association, including Rookie of the Year Handler in 2007 and National Champion Handler Team in 2009. In 2019, he became a regional judge for the USPCA and received his Regional Judge certification.

Walter served the majority of his career in the patrol division before being placed in the Criminal Investigations Division to work narcotic interdiction with his dog. When the department dropped in size, he was placed back on the patrol division.

In 2014, Walter started managing and budgeting overtime funds from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau program, which allocates extra funding to the county for more traffic and safety patrols during the holidays.

Walter has served as a sergeant since 2016, and currently works the overnight shift.

Walter’s campaign focuses include: crime investigation and prevention, community policing and outreach, mental health, and tactical and high stress situations. He would like to establish a field training program for new deputies to help them become better equipped to handle the many situations that deputies face in their law enforcement career, research and establish new ways to draw more applicants to join the Sheriff’s Office and obtain necessary equipment that will aid the deputies in providing the best service possible to the public.

Q: What differentiates you and your qualifications for sheriff from your primary opponent?

I am currently one of the longest-serving deputies with the department and earned a promotion to sergeant in 2016. I have 18 years of law enforcement experience and 16 of those years have been with the Webster County Sheriff’s Office. I have been the department’s canine handler for 13 years and this has allowed me to gain extensive training and knowledge into the drug issues that are currently present in Webster County.

I did not grow up in Webster County, however upon attending ICCC and obtaining my Criminal Justice Degree, I knew that I wanted to make Webster County my home. I took the opportunity to return and was hired as a Deputy Sheriff in 2004. With my 16 years of experience in Webster County I have been able to watch the department grow and progress with things such as new technology to aid the deputies, community involvement opportunities, being asked to sit on the interview panel for new deputies and helping to update department policies and procedures. This time and experience with the Sheriff’s Office has allowed me to better see the direction, potential, and future for the Sheriff’s Office.

Q: What part of Sheriff Stubbs’ legacy would you like to continue? What’s the best thing you believe he has done in office?

A: Sheriff Stubbs has been a great leader in many ways. One of his best attributes as sheriff is he has always had an open door policy. At any time, if there was an issue that I felt needed addressed I could always approach him and speak to him about that issue openly. He was always willing to listen and treats members of the public and department with respect and courtesy. Examples: I approached him about establishing a department Facebook page to which he agreed. Another deputy and I then put the page together and it is starting to grow. It has been used to assist deputies to solve crimes with tips from the public and has allowed more transparency of the Sheriff’s Office. I also approached Sheriff Stubbs about creating a department softball team to compete in the Guns & Hoses softball game with the Fort Dodge Police and Fire Departments. He allowed me to organize this without creating any cost to the department. This allowed deputies to be part of a fun departmental activity that raised money for a great cause in the community.

Sheriff Stubbs has allowed more involvement from myself and the other sergeants. Examples of this are: asking me to take charge of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) program for the department and trusting me with the budget for that program, allowing the sergeants to assist with updating the policies and procedures, and entrusting more responsibility to the sergeants to lead their shifts.

Sheriff Stubbs has also been willing to focus on deputy equipment needs in order to better serve the citizens. He has upgraded patrol vehicles so that all they are all four or all-wheel drive. This has greatly affected the ability of the deputies to continue to be able to provide services during winter road conditions. He also purchased outer carriers for deputy’s duty vests if desired. This vest allows a deputy to easily remove the vest in the office while working on paperwork. Items like this help boost deputy moral as they can be more comfortable especially during warm weather and can even ease some tension from the deputies backs by being able to take a break from them momentarily yet still allowing quick access when leaving the office.

Q: What would your top priorities be as sheriff?

A:There are a few things that sit close to the top of the list of priorities for me. The main purpose of the Sheriff’s Office is to protect and serve the citizens of Webster County. To me this does not just limit itself to responding to calls and arresting people. There are two aspects of this concept that I intend to pursue.

One aspect is community outreach, which would include encouraging deputies to become more involved in community activities such as National Night Out, Santa Cops and the Citizen’s Academy. I also want to research ideas for a mentorship program with the schools in the area for at risk youth. I believe that more positive interaction with the citizens will help solve and reduce crimes because it lets the public know that we are there to assist and support them.

The second aspect is that as Sheriff I intend to push for a more pro-active sheriff’s Office where deputies are not just waiting and responding to calls but are out in the community and county actively looking for criminal activity. Crime cannot be reduced if deputies are simply waiting for calls. Crime is reduced by deputies being visible and active throughout the county.

Q: Why do you want to be sheriff? What drives your passion to be in law enforcement?

A: For me law enforcement was always a calling, not a choice. I remember in elementary school telling my parents that I was going to be a police officer and a canine handler. My goals never wavered and I have pursued this path my entire life.

I was fortunate at the age of 21 to achieve my goal of becoming a law enforcement officer. Then in 2007, I was offered the position of canine handler by Sheriff Brian Mickelson. I have served as the canine handler for the department since that time and currently have my second canine.

I have never been someone that stops once my goals have been achieved. I was raised to set goals, work hard to meet them, and then set new goals. I’ve always looked to the future. Testing for and being promoted to Sergeant in 2016, and then again testing and passing the lieutenant’s exam in 2018 were both milestones I set for myself to achieve.

When Sheriff Stubbs told me that he was retiring I looked back at my career and knew that it was time to take the next step and run for sheriff. I see the passion and commitment that I have as a deputy in the young deputies that are now with the Sheriff’s Office, and I know that as the sheriff I can lead this great group of deputies into the future to provide the citizens of Webster County with the best service possible.

Q: How do you think mental health issues have impacted law enforcement? Is there any way you believe the Sheriff’s Office can address mental health in our community, either inside or outside the department?

A: Mental health is an issue that the Sheriff’s Office deals with on a daily basis. I have said since day one of my campaign that I intend to update training for the deputies and a large portion of that training is to include mental health training.

I intend to reach out to resources such as Berryhill and Community Health in order to collaborate with local doctors and therapists about the mental health issues that we are seeing right here in Webster County and the best ways to respond to those individuals we encounter on calls. This will better equip the deputies to recognize a mental health issue when responding to calls and give them the resources to help that person. By reaching out to places like Berryhill, CFR and UnityPoint I feel that we can all work together and assist those with mental health issues in Webster County.

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