The current sheriff and the three other candidates seeking the office all agree that proliferation of illegal drugs is the top law-enforcement problem in Pulaski County. This consensus was among information gleaned this week during brief interviews with three Republicans and one Democrat who want to be sheriff.

Incumbent Todd Wood, nearing the end of his first term, will be challenged in the May 16 GOP primary election by Rodney W. Sneed, now the police chief of Eubank, and former deputy sheriff Bobby Sears. The top vote getter in the primary will be the Republican nominee and face Constable James W. Glover in the November 7 general election. Glover, the Democrat nominee without opposition, is not involved in the primary election and his name will not be on the May 16 ballot.

During the interview, each of the candidates responded to the following questions:

1. In your opinion what is the most pressing problem for law enforcement in Pulaski County?

2. If elected (or re-elected) as sheriff, what changes do you envision for the sheriff’s department during the next four-year term?

3. With the threat of terroristic incidents and home invasions, what can be done to make Pulaski Countians feel safer?

4. Why do you want to be sheriff of Pulaski County?

Todd Wood

“To say we will remove all (illegal) drugs from our county is unrealistic, but we’re going to make it hard for anybody to move into Pulaski County and deal in illicit drugs.” said Pulaski County Sheriff Todd Wood.

Wood, a Republican, is running for a second term as sheriff. Describing the drug traffic as the biggest law-enforcement problem in Pulaski County, Wood said statistics will show that most people in jail or prison are involved in drugs or illicit drug activity.

The sheriff said great strides are being made against drug traffickers. Noticeable is the fact that methamphetamine labs have been greatly reduced, Wood said. Assistance in the illicit drug fight is available from the Lake Cumberland Drug Task Force, UNITE and the Narcotics Division of the sheriff’s department, Wood noted.

The sheriff talked about the growing problem of home invasions in the county.

“Home invasions are not limited to our seniors,” Wood said. “It can happen to anybody.” Wood indicated he wants to get information to the public on how to spot a suspicious person and other crime prevention tips, including how to make a residence an unpopular stop for this type of criminal. “They don’t like lights,” he added.

Wood said his first term as sheriff has been personally rewarding.

“I’m very excited about the way my first term has gone,” Wood said. He mentioned formation of the Major Crimes Task Force of which the Somerset Police Department is a part. A full-time school resource officer has been placed at Southwestern High School, previously the only high school in the county without a security officer, and courthouse security has been enhanced, he noted.

“According to 9-1-1, our response time has been reduced each year,” Wood said. The sheriff’s department currently has 24 full-time officers, including five detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division. “One of the things I’m proud of is the fact that we are a rural sheriff’s department able to finance and operate without borrowing money from any account,” the sheriff remarked.

Wood wants a second term “because I want to continue to work to be the best sheriff’s department in Kentucky. Law enforcement is my chosen career.”

Wood is married to the former Jeannie Vanhook. They have four children.

Rodney W. Sneed

“If you’re going to sit on the porch and complain, you’ d better be willing to do something about it.”

Rodney Sneed, a Republican candidate for sheriff, said that’s the advice given to him by his grandfather “ ... and that’s probably the reason I’m willing to take the next step.”

Sneed, chief of police at Eubank for the past five years, says he can see things that need to be changed to help the people of Pulaski County and “that’s the reason I’m running for sheriff.”

“The No. 1 issue everywhere -- the nation, state and in Pulaski County ... is (illegal) drugs,” Sneed said. The No. 2 issue is lack of communications, an improvement that would assist in fighting the drug problem,” Sneed believes. One of the key things, he said, is better communications among federal, state and local agencies.

Concerning communication, Sneed said one of the things he would improve as sheriff is follow-up calls. He said a sheriff’s officer who investigates a burglary or theft should make a follow-up call to the victim and update them on the progress of the investigation.

“That’s what I’ll address as sheriff,” Sneed said.

A deputy sheriff in Pulaski County between 1997 and 2000, Sneed emphasized that he would make no personnel changes in the sheriff’s department if he is elected sheriff. He said there would be some policy changes in how the office is operated.

“I can’t afford to get rid of the (present) personnel,” he said. “They are some of the best trained in the state.” Sneed said it would cost the county thousands of dollars to hire and train new deputies. “There are some good people down there,” he said.

“I want to be sheriff,” Sneed said. “I think I would make a good sheriff. Our county is growing. I see need for change.”

Sneed is a veteran of the U.S. Army and the National Guard. He is a former member of the Kentucky Drug Task Force, a member of the regional Hazmat team and a certified volunteer firefighter.

Sneed is a partner in 5 Star Builders and Developers, a construction company, and owner of SS Farm on Ky. 70. He is married to the former Shelia Wall of Eubank and they have two children.

Bobby Sears

Bobby Sears, a Republican, said if he is elected sheriff he would try to add personnel to the sheriff’s office, specifically a female deputy. “I wouldn’t change the (current) personnel,” he promised.

Sears, a truck driver, said he is qualified to serve as sheriff because of his considerable experience in law enforcement. Sears served as a police officer in Ferguson while the late Gilmore Phelps was sheriff of Pulaski County. He said at one time he was chief of police at Ferguson and fondly recalled serving with the late John Henderlight, a deputy sheriff.

“I took a 40-hour course in law enforcement under the late Sheriff Jim Hill of Wayne County, Sears said. “I was a deputy sheriff in Wayne County under Sheriff Hill until Jim died in 1999,” Sears added.

Prior to serving as a deputy sheriff, Sears was chief deputy jailer in Wayne County between 1982 and 1986.

Sears thinks the drug problem is the biggest law-enforcement headache in Pulaski County.

“I’m against (illegal) drugs,” declared Sears. “(Drugs) have gotten such a foothold nationwide, statewide and countywide that it’s going to be a hard job. A lot of families are being touched by drugs.”

“We need a better response time,” said Sears, indicating quicker reaction by the sheriff’s department would be a factor in solving the drug problem.

Alluding to increasing reports of home invasions, Sears said he believes this problem is drug related. “It’s putting a lot of our senior citizens at risk,” he said.

Sears said his campaign for the sheriff’s office is limited by his job as a long-distance truck driver.

“I’m a working man,” Sears said. “I get home and see as many people as I can.” Prior to becoming a truck driver, Sears did carpentry work with several members of his family.

A native of Pulaski County, Sears is married to the former Anna Guffey from Wayne County. They have a son, Larry.

James W. Glover

The lone Democrat seeking the sheriff’s office says he would take a large salary cut to free up money to hire more deputies.

“On my first day in office, I’ll take my salary back to $49,000, like it used to be,” declared James W. Glover. He said this will free up about $30,000 a year to add another deputy.

“I can’t see a sheriff making $80,000 a year and deputies, who put their lives on the line, making $30,000.” Maximum salary for a Kentucky sheriff is $78,249 annually.

Glover, a constable in the 5th District for the past 17 years, is automatically the Democrat nominee for sheriff and his name will not be on the May 16 ballot.

If elected in November, Glover vows to make a difference in the sheriff’s office.

“I can’t completely clean up the county during my first six months in office, but within six months to a year if the citizens of this county don’t see a change, I’ll never ask for their vote again”.

Illegal drugs are the county’s biggest problem, Glover declares.

“When you open the newspapers and see all these kids OD’ing (over-dosing), we’re going to have to put drugs out of this county,” Glover said. He said this can be accomplished by putting more deputies on the road, asking the state to send more state troopers to Pulaski County and give more help to the drug task force.

Glover promised to establish better communications among government and public safety agencies.

“Bring all the departments -- the city, county, fire departments -- together to increase communication,” he said.

Glover envisions a time when people can feel safe in their homes.

“I can remember when we could sleep with our windows open. Now we have to lock the windows, dead bolt the doors and put up security (devices). That’s not right for the citizens of Pulaski County.”

Glover, an employee of Crane Company for 27 years, is married to the former Freda Carrender of Bronston. They have four children.

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