Horn Answers Courier Questions at Meet and Greet
September 19, 2018
This past Friday, Sept. 14, Joe Horn, as candidate for Valley County Sheriff and Coroner, hosted his first public event at the VFW. Supporters and guests mingled at the bar and over sloppy joes, served up by the candidate’s wife, Mary.
The Courier used the opportunity to speak with the candidate regarding issues such as relevant experience and potential plans as sheriff should Horn win the election.
Horn has made money and spending a central component of his campaign. He has claimed that by making changes in the ways in which the Sheriff’s department spends would save the taxpayers of Valley County money.
When asked by the Courier about the largest budget he has been in charge of, Horn said he’s never been in charge of a budget, except his own personal checking account. In a later follow-up inquiry regarding personal financial difficulties, Horn demanded to know why such a question was being asked, but did respond after being told the sheriff is personally liable for the budget and questions about financial difficulties are included in background security checks. Horn asserted, “Well, I’ve never declared bankruptcy, I can tell you that. And I’ve been through several background checks.”
When it comes to leadership, Horn notes that he has previously been in a position of leadership, during his time as a guard at the state penitentiary during the 1970s, where he had a farm crew of approximately 30 men working under him. Asked about experience with interagency cooperation, the candidate pointed to his time as an undercover drug officer, where he coordinated with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the FBI. He thought he had probably also coordinated with the state, but could not recall with certainty Friday evening.
Asked about the unique jurisdictional issues in Valley County, specifically regarding Fort Peck Reservation, Horn expressed a desire to work with the tribes on patrolling and visibility of deputies. He said, “From what I understand, the people over there feel ignored.” Horn alleged current members of the department do not even drive through the area. Asked if the issue of patrolling might be related to issues of jurisdiction, Horn said he saw no problem with just driving through and being seen, noting the people want a presence over there.
Horn promises he would be an active sheriff, spending more time patrolling than administering, and that having a strong undersheriff would be essential in handling the office tasks required. Horn has not decided on an undersheriff, and he would not mention names of any individual he is considering for the second-in-command position. Horn did state he is considering two to three people. He claimed he would like to hire one of the current deputies for the position, noting that they are currently there, and he would like to see them stay. Asked if he had reached out to any of the deputies, he admitted he has not talked to any of them.
Horn wants the public to know that he is committed to improving relations between community members and law enforcement, while acknowledging there is a problem with perceptions about cops locally and nationally. Horn looks back to his early days in law enforcement in the 1970s as inspiration for his approach. He says part of his plan, beyond requiring deputies to live in outlying communities, is to have his officers having lunch in the schools once a week, to show kids that cops are good people. He also promised that if someone is not a good person, they would go down under him.
Following up on the public issues relation, the Courier inquired about Horn’s approach to treatment of sex crimes, particularly in light of the notoriety Valley County faced following the sentencing of Martin Blake.
Horn says he has worked on sex crime cases in the past and treats them like any other case. Asked if, in light of the #MeToo movement, what his feelings are on believing women when they report crimes, he replied, “Well, each case is different.”
Horn addressed a question about DUIs, saying, “If it’s a problem, we need to fix it.” When asked if he did not think it was a problem now, he said it is a problem, but there is currently a good arrest record, noting there are a number of arrests for DUIs in the law enforcement report, Horn pledged strict enforcement of DUI laws in Valley County.
Horn is running in opposition to Write-in Candidate Tom Boyer. The election will be Tuesday, Nov. 6 this year, with absentee ballots mailed out Oct. 12.