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New sheriff making good first steps

The discord that characterized the search for a new sheriff faded away Wednesday when the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners turned to Frank Homer to lead the county's law enforcement agency.

The vote wasn't unanimous, but it was civil.

Only time will tell if Homer's selection was a good one, but we wish him the best in his endeavor.

Homer is a cautious, thoughtful man and he's obviously considered, based on the presentation he made to the board, the weighty matters that confront him. That's a plus in his favor.

He said he will not appoint a new chief deputy right away and will consider everyone in the department, setting friendships aside. That's a good first step.

He pledged to be a better communicator, with the media, the public and to his troops. That's an even better step.

He also pledged to do what he could to turn around the jail vacancy rate. Although that is a good step, too, he needs to go further, holding the jail administrator accountable for those vacancy rates.

It's too late to mothball the building, but the county can't afford to take a wait-and-see approach either. Certainly jail populations are down all over the state, by all estimates as much as 3 percent, and that may reflect a lower crime rate, which is a good trend. But the county simply can't afford to keep paying the personnel it takes to run the facility indefinitely.

Homer needs to control the overtime spending, especially with summer events nearing that his department has traditionally been present for. Better scheduling of personnel could nip some of the overtime in the bud.

Finally, he's pledged to look at the morale within all corners of law enforcement and try to get it on an even keel. He's right when he acknowledges there will always be happy campers in any organization - and unhappy ones. Change is difficult for some.

Homer recognizes that poor morale reflects poorly on the department and prevents public servants from doing their jobs effectively.

If Homer continues to think and act this rationally, he will be a successful sheriff, one that the citizens will officially embrace come election time.