In a meeting on Nov. 13, the Mineral County Board of County Commissioners cut the field of potential successors to Mineral County Sheriff Mike Dillard down to five. The board is expected to appoint a sheriff to serve the final 14 months of Dillard’s term on Wednesday.
The five finalists for the position are: Randall L. Adams, Mineral County Juvenile Probation Officer; James L. Bagwell Jr. of Carson City, former sheriff of Humbolt County; Stewart Handte, a probation officer who lives in Reno; Steve McBride, a company ethics officer for SOC Nevada, LLC; and James T. Wood, an investigator for the Mineral County District Attorney’s Office who lives in Fallon.
Five other people also applied, but one withdrew.
Adams’ application was the shortest the county received.
“My 17-year experience in law enforcement has prepared me to take on this position,” Adams wrote in his letter of interest to the board, asking to be considered to replace Dillard. “As a supervisor in the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office, I oversaw numerous deputies and gained experience in management.”
According to his resume, Adams has been in law enforcement since 1996, when he was hired as a Deputy Sheriff.
As a deputy, Adams’ responsibilities included “inmate supervision, traffic and safety patrol, criminal investigations, deputy supervision, grant applications, operations management, and organization crisis response,” his resume says.
Adams achieved the rank of sergeant before moving on to the Juvenile Probation Office in 2009. There he worked on JPO’s budget; was part of the team that oversaw the recently closed Don Goforth Resource Center; and participated in community and school district boards or coalitions “on juvenile matters,” his resume says.
“Following my departure from the Sheriff’s Department, I have continued to work closely with Mineral County Law Enforcement as a Juvenile Probation officer,” Adams wrote in his letter of interest to the board. “Through the course of this position, I have also been responsible for administrative and budgetary decisions with the Don Gorforth Resource Center and Juvenile Probation Department.”
Bagwell offered two promises to the board in his letter of interest: that he will dedicate himself to providing quality law enforcement to the citizens of Mineral County; and that he will offer law enforcement training to anyone with the demeanor, dedication, work ethic and desire to be a public officer.
After a five-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, during which he served in Viet Nam and was trained at the Nuclear Weapons Specialist School in Denver, Bagwell joined the Nevada Highway Patrol in September 1978.
In 1983 he was elected sheriff in Humboldt County and served two terms.
He worked for an investigative firm in Reno for a year after he left office, but by April 1992 was once again serving as a sheriff’s deputy, this time in Douglas County. He retired a decade later as a sergeant in the same department.
Bagwell is also a board member of the Nevada Hazardous Materials Commission and Criminal Justice Information System Advisory Committee; prepared the Nevada Small County Emergency Response to Critical Incident policy manual, and is a pilot and Emergency Medical Technician.
Bagwell, whose letter of interest said he grew up in Mineral County, also doesn’t have any ambitions to have a long career in Mineral County.
“I recognize the difficult position you are placed in by appointed anyone to this position,” he wrote. “You are almost guaranteeing that person’s success in the 2014 election. I have no interest in running in that election, thus allowing the electorate to chose the next sheriff.”
Bagwell said if he’s appointed, his goal will be to set the department on a more stable path, train a successor, and move on.
“Mineral County for some time has had some problems because they tend to be a young department with a lot of pass through offices and that does create some problems with the sort of direction the department might take,” Bagwell said.
Handte’s career in law enforcement began in 1983 shortly after his graduation from the University of Nevada, Reno. Handte started out as a retail security agent.
After less than a year in retail security, Handte joined the Nevada Highway Patrol, and was stationed in Tonopah, Las Vegas and Reno.
His duties included traffic stops, accident investigation, and training other officers.
He also served as the head liaison officer for the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Special Investigation Unit in Reno, and is a member of the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Intelligence Association.
He spent 19 years on the highway patrol, before stepping down in 2003, having received a letter of commendation for 12 of his years there.
“I am a proactive law enforcement officer who believes that the public safety of the citizenry of Mineral County is paramount in combating the ever-present criminal element in the society we live in today,” Handte wrote in his letter of interest. “I will do my utmost in executing the duties of Sheriff of Mineral County should I be chosen to fill this position.”
In 2005, Handte was appointed a deputy sheriff in Storey County and was stationed in Virginia City, where he served until 2008, with a brief interruption in 2006.
In 2009, Handte took a job at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Court as a probation officer, a position he holds today.
“I think I could go down there and mend the ties that seem to be broken,” Handte said in a telephone interview. “And not necessarily within just the sheriff’s department itself, but also within the communities of mina and Luning and walker and also in Hawthorne.”
McBride doesn’t like the word change, but he hopes he can take the sheriff’s department in a new direction, if he is appointed sheriff.
McBride said he hopes to use the office of sheriff to bridge what he sees as a divide between Mineral County citizens and law enforcement.
“I’ve lived in Hawthorne for about the last five years, I’m very involved with the community and various organizations and I don’t like the direction the sheriff’s department has been going in,” McBride said in a phone interview.
McBride began his career in law enforcement in 1989 as a police officer in Plymouth Township, Penn. McBride was a patrol officer and crisis negotiator.
In October 2006, after 17 years as an officer in Plymouth, McBride became a safety/security officer at the Oasis Hotel in Las Vegas. Part of his duties included managing a workforce of about 100 people, his resume says.
He continued his work in the safety and security fields until may, when he was appointed Company Ethics Officer for SOC, Nevada, LLC.
His application packet also includes an extensive list of drills and training he has completed, including certification as an expert shot with a pistol.
If he’s appointed sheriff, McBride said his primary goal will be bringing people to trust the department, so people are willing to help combat what he called “quality of life issues”, like drug and vandalism problems.
“Once the community starts putting trust in the sheriff, and trust in the community, they’re more likely help combat some of these quality of life issues that we have,” he said.
After 22 years in law enforcement, Jim Wood is ready to move to the next level.
Wood began his career in law enforcement in 1988 at the Churchill County Sheriff Department, where he served as an operations and patrol captain, and as the undersheriff.
His duties included scheduling extraditions; overseeing the patrol and investigative divisions; and responding to every major crime scene.
As undersheriff Wood prepared the department’s budget, issued concealed weapons permits, and coordinated deputy presence at major events like the Fallon Air Show and the Cantaloupe Festival.
He was also part of a team that rewrote Churchill County’s Standards and Procedures manual.
During his career, Wood has also taught criminal justice classes at Western Nevada Community College.
“I believe that having worked a bordering county, along with an approximate two-year stint assigned to the North Central Narcotics Task Force (when Mineral County was involved) gives me a good insight into what to expect should I be fortunate enough to be appointed sheriff,” Wood wrote in his letter.
The other applicants for sheriff were: Srgt. William “Billy” Ferguson of the Nevada Highway Patrol; Earl Perry, sheriff deputy; Saverio “Sammy” Scarlata, sheriff deputy; Randy Barain, a rancher who spent 20 years in law enforcement; and Richard H. Stromatt, who later withdrew his application.
Dillard announced he would step down as Mineral County Sheriff on Nov 4.
He is the first man to ever voluntarily step aside as sheriff of the county. In 1959 Al Jensen term as sheriff was cut short when he died of pneumonia.