3 join Sebastian County sheriff race

Deputy, 2 former police officers announce their candidacies as Republicans

Posted: January 29, 2018 at 2:25 a.m.

FORT SMITH -- Three men have announced their candidacies for Sebastian County sheriff, two of them after incumbent Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck recently announced he would not run for re-election.

The candidates who have announced, all Republicans, are former Fort Smith police Maj. Jarrard Copeland, 51, of Fort Smith; former Springdale patrol officer Randy McFadden, 58, of Mansfield; and Sebastian County Chief Deputy Hobe Runion, 53, of Fort Smith.

The winner will take office Jan. 1 for a two-year term.

Hollenbeck announced two weeks ago that he will not seek a fifth term as sheriff, saying it was time to pass the torch.

"If eight years is good enough for the president of the United States, eight years is probably good enough for sheriff," he said.

Still with 11 months to serve, Hollenbeck said he has not decided what he wants to do next or whether he will remain in law enforcement.

Copeland said in his announcement for sheriff that he had been urged after his retirement May 1 from the police department to run for sheriff but believed Hollenbeck was doing a good job and didn't want to run against him.

In December, he announced he was running for the at-large city director seat held by the Rev. Don Hutchings when Hutchings threw his hat in the ring for mayor.

But when Copeland heard Hollenbeck didn't intend to run again, he decided to switch races and run for sheriff.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my 25 years in law enforcement, and I am certain I have a lot to offer the citizens of Sebastian County as sheriff," he said.

Copeland said his top priority would be to reduce fear of crime in the county by working with residents and listening to their needs and concerns.

Copeland said he believes in community policing. Just as criminals network to carry on their activities, he said, it is important for officers to create and maintain even stronger networks with other agencies and residents to limit criminals' opportunities.

McFadden has 20 years of law enforcement experience working in several areas. He worked for seven years as a patrol officer with the Springdale Police Department. He also served as a reserve part-time deputy with the Washington County sheriff's office, a reserve deputy at the Sebastian County sheriff's office and in management security for United Parcel Service.

If elected, McFadden said he would be a proactive sheriff and would work with other law enforcement agencies, including federal officers, to curb the opioid drug crisis. He also said he would meet regularly with emergency responders and keep deputies updated in training on the use of Narcan, the opioid antidote drug naloxone hydrochloride.

He said he also would make sure patrol deputies had all the equipment they needed to respond to emergency or dangerous situations.

"I believe in order to promote a safe county, you must have a team that has the same goals, concerns and regard for everyone who lives and works in Sebastian County," McFadden said.

Runion said he also wants to attack the opioid problem. He said the department is in the process of training and establishing policy so all members of the department who would be called on to administer it will be issued Narcan.

The county must combat opioid abuse through education, collaboration among the Legislature, law enforcement and medical professionals, and using alternative sentencing with support and treatment, Runion said.

"I believe that I have been a large part of the successes we have enjoyed at the sheriff's department under Sheriff Hollenbeck, and I intend to fully implement and continue the initiatives that we have already started and promote them as far as possible," he said.

The sheriff's office has to be creative and proactive to decrease overcrowding in the jail, he said. There are some programs in place to manage the daily jail population such as the soon-to-open crisis intervention center, transferring of inmates, adjusting bonds and classifying inmates, he said.

Hollenbeck said some recent programs initiated under his administration have been the introduction of mobile data units in patrol cars, starting a Child Abduction Response Team, and consideration of moving the sheriff's office to a county-owned building on the south edge of Fort Smith and converting the sheriff's office downtown into a female holding unit.

State Desk on 01/29/2018