Candidate questionnaire: Dennis Hammer, Johnson County Sheriff
The following are Johnson County Sheriff candidate Dennis Hammer's responses to the Shawnee Dispatch's candidate questionnaire. Hammer is running as a Republican in the primary against Calvin Hayden and John Resman. No Democrats filed for the seat.
Education: Graduate of Olathe High School (1981), Hammer also attended Emporia State University, MidAmerica Nazarene University, Johnson County Community College, Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, FBI-LEEDA-Supervisor Leadership Institute, FBI-LEEDA-Command Institute for Law Enforcement Executives, and Certified Public Managers Program-University of Kansas
Occupation: Currently employed with the the Olathe School District as a Para Educator, working with Special Needs students.
Family: Married 34 years to Janet, Daughter Sarah, 29, and Son Will, 23
Resident of the county: 46 years
Past experience: Started with JCSO May, 1985, and was promoted to Sergeant in 1993, to Lieutenant in 1997, and retired in June 2013
Other community service: Assist with Olathe Special Populations POP Choir, Heroes on the Water volunteer
Campaign website: www.DennisHammerforSheriff.com
What made you decide to run for Sheriff?
I grew up in the Sheriff's Office. My father moved our family to JOCO so that he could work for then Sheriff Fred Allenbrand. When I turned 21, I fulfilled a lifelong dream when I was hired as a Deputy. This Department is a huge part of who I am and I am very passionate about it. With the experience and training I received during my career, I believe I have the leadership qualities to see the Sheriff's Office through the upcoming years, leading it in the right direction to insure the citizens of JOCO continue to have a safe place to live, work and, raise their families.
This is the first election that I have been eligible to run for the office of Sheriff. It has been a goal of mine and, after a lot or prayer and discussions with my family, friends and officers within the Sheriff's Office "family", I jumped at the opportunity.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
During my career, I was fortunate to have worked with great leaders. I was very observant of these men and women, soaking up their different approaches to Leadership, problem solving, personnel management, etc.
When I became a supervisor, I was able to take these different styles, and blend them together to become a effective supervisor and leader.
During my career, I was actively involved in budgeting, strategic planning, transitions, scheduling and personnel management.
I am only three years removed from the Sheriff's Office. I have remained in close contact with staff still working there and have a very good grasp of the current operations.
My personality and communication skills enable me to work with people to accomplish the desired goals.
How do you plan to stay in touch with constituents if you are elected?
I will be a very active Sheriff. You will see me, and my staff, involved in community events throughout the area. During this campaign process, I have realized that a lot of the citizens of Johnson County don't even realize there is a Sheriff's Office, or what it's function is. We will become a much more visible Office.
As you have been campaigning, what issue have you found is most important for constituents? How would you address this issue?
The most often asked question is, how will I deal with the issue of Johnson County being named a Sanctuary County for illegal aliens. I would do everything within my powers, and within state and federal laws, to see that immigration laws are adhered to. I will work with the federal authorities to make sure we, the Sheriff's Office, is in compliance with these laws.
In your own opinion, aside from or in addition to the above issue, what are the three most important issues facing the Sheriff’s Office and how would you address them?
One of the issues that I feel needs attention is the relationship between the Sheriff's Office and the other local agencies (City, State and Federal). By working as a team, sharing information and resources, we would all be able to achieve our goal, the safety of our citizens, in a cost effective and efficient manner. The leaders of these agencies must be able to set their egos aside and work together.
We, as a Law Enforcement community, need to have regular multi-jurisdiction training to insure that when a major event occurs, we are prepared to respond as a team. If we don't train together, it will make it hard to react together.
2-Dealing with individuals suffering from mental health issues.
With all the cutbacks in federal and state monies for mental health facilities over the last few decades, individuals suffering from mental health issues often times end up in the detention facilities. These people will stay for a couple of days, weeks or months, get released only to return again. The detention setting is not the type of setting that they need to be in. I will diligently work with Johnson County Mental Health, the District Attorneys Office and the Courts, to investigate alternative options for these individuals.
The Sheriff's Office budget for 2016 was approximately 86.5 million dollars. This is a large amount of tax payer money and they deserve to be getting the best value for their money. I will be taking a very close look at where these monies are spent. A large portion is spent on paying overtime to officers. With some creative scheduling and redistribution of staff, overtime pay can be reduced. Will I be able to alleviate all the overtime, absolutely not. I do believe that this can be drastically reduced with some simple changes.
During my career, I have always been bothered by the wasteful spending at the end of a fiscal year. Departments spending up all of their leftover monies in the final month. It's the "If we don't spend it now, we won't get it on next years budget" mentality. I say this must stop. As your Sheriff, it will be my goal, at the end of the year, to return to the Board of County Commissioners and present them with any monies that weren't used during the year. My philosophy on spending tax payer's monies will be buying what we need, not we want.