MISSOULA, Mont. - 4 Republicans are the only candidates running to replace the current sheriff of Mineral County.
The Mineral County Sheriff's Department has been under fire the last few years for its response times and handle on a growing crime problem.
The agency is stretched thin. 7 patrol staff – including the sheriff and undersheriff – have to cover an area that fills 1,223 square miles.
Deputies are also forced to work with aging patrol vehicles and equipment.
We asked the 4 candidates running for sheriff what they would do differently to deal with the limited resources.
"I'm willing to sit down with the commissioners and look at the budget and see if we can allocate some money and move around some funds," said Robert Larson, a current deputy with the department. "I'm also willing to look at some grants. I want to increase the department by one to two deputies in the next 4 years to get quicker response times."
"To go to the commissioners and ask for more - it's probably not going to happen," said Michael Toth, a former deputy. "We're going to need to do more with less. The deputies are decently paid for this size of department and area, and we're just going to have to hold them accountable for their actions."
"What we need to do is get back to the basics. Basic law enforcement, responding to calls, returning people's calls," said Adam Cole, a former deputy. "We need to be out in the public, addressing the issues, and not asking for more stuff until we get to the basics. We can accomplish that with the deputies we have on force."
"I'm going to start a sheriff's advisory council, and it's going to be made up of citizens from all over Mineral County and every zip code can be at least one person," said Tom Bauer, a former deputy. "In the bigger communities, maybe two. One other thing I'm going to do is have students from each school on that council too and they will come to me with their issues."
The Republican primary is next Tuesday.