Jeff Hodge has announced he will run for a second term as Crook County Sheriff. It has been an honor, he says, and four successful years, but there is much he would still like to accomplish on behalf of the citizens of Crook County.
“The women and men of the Sheriff’s Office represent the best of public safety and make a difference in people’s lives every day,” Hodge says. “Working alongside them for the past four years, serving as sheriff, has been a great honor and a most rewarding professional experience.”
Of his accomplishments so far, Hodge is perhaps most proud of the success of ALICE training, a program designed to prepare civilians for an active shooter situation.
“ALICE training has been the biggest surprise. I expected it to go well, but did not expect the overwhelming response the program received,” he says. “The schools were welcoming and everybody who has attended thought it was very good. We have received superb feedback regarding the program,” he says. Hodge would like to continue introducing as many people as possible to ALICE training, incorporating first responders and continuing to offer the training to the Crook County Youth. “Recently, the Crook County School Board officially accepted the ALICE training program as a policy, so we will be in each school building once a year providing staff and students the training,” he says.
Hodge has also fully introduced the CodeRED and Integrated Public and Warning System (IPAWS) emergency notification systems to the county, making it easier and more effective to warn residents of an impending crisis situation such as fire, natural disasters or a law enforcement emergency.
Freshmen Impact is also now in Wyoming with the assistance of the Sheriff’s Office, he says. It was held in Newcastle last year – and will be again this year. Most of the freshman that attend school in Crook County have been attending the program for the last three years.
After applying for and receiving a State Lands and Investments Board grant, Hodge has been able to implement a long overdue upgrade to the county detention center and dispatch center. He notes the upgrade allows the department to serve the Crook County citizens more efficiently.
While Project Lifesaver was also launched during Hodge’s first term, it has been less effective than other new programs, he says. The program helps to locate vulnerable individuals with conditions such as Alzheimer’s but for unknown reason has not taken off as hoped. “We’ll keep pushing it, but we’ve had few people sign up for it,” he says.
He has introduced a logging system to show patrol times on various county roads to increase the office’s accountability. He has also provided training for individuals to become in house instructors, such as Emergency Medical Dispatch, ensuring that all dispatchers will be certified and able to assist people over the phone until EMS crews arrive. He notes the department now has a Wyoming law enforcement certified firearms instructor that was a cooperative effort with the other local police departments in the county saving the cities and towns money. They also have an in-house Wyoming law enforcement certified custody and control instructor to ensure they remain up to date on control tactics for liability and officer safety issues.
Hodge also touted the great working relationship his office has continued to foster with state and local agencies in our area including fire and EMS as well as other law enforcement agencies. Along with continued efforts on existing programs and upgrades put in place over the past, Hodge notes there is still plenty to do. “I think we’re serving the county well and I would like to continue in that service,” he adds. “Maintaining a conservative budget approach by keeping costs down is a priority. We have restructured the fleet vehicle program and the results have been a reduced amount of tax dollars budgeted on sheriff office vehicles,” he said.
On Hodge’s list, should he be re-elected, is education and prevention to the growing Opioid problem occurring nationwide. “We’ve been aggressive about it but with the growing dangers to our deputies we will be now carrying the Narcan,” he says, referring to the emergency treatment for a suspected opioid overdose, which will be kept on hand for law enforcement officers in case of accidental contact during searches.
Hodge also aims to continue promoting the county’s overhauled Search and Rescue Program. “We had a really good response – almost 50 people showed up to our first meeting,” he says, noting that those attendees brought a wealth of skills and knowledge to the table. “There were a lot of resources out there that we weren’t even aware of, so right now we’re in the organization and training stage.”
Hodge was elected to the position of sheriff in 2014, having served within the Crook County Sheriff’s Office since 1997, and has been serving in law enforcement since 1994. He was born in Montana and grew up in a small farming and ranching community.
After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served from 1988 to 1992, in both Desert Storm and Desert Shield. He is currently serving as Vice President of the Wyoming Sheriff’s association.