Chuck Atkins for Sheriff

by lewwaters

Sheriff BadgeAfter careful consideration, I have decided I should make known my choice in this primary election for Sheriff and not to take anything away from any of the other three candidates vying for the office, have determined Chuck Atkins should be elected in November.

This was not an easy decision as I feel all four meet the qualifications, but come November, only one will win the office, two first in the Primary Election facing us.

I was the first to post reviews of the candidates in a three part series based upon questions I presented to all four, here, here and here. The questions were compiled by me on issues I felt would be of importance. All candidates were forthright with their answers and on most issues, not that far apart.

This blog also posted the first to tape and post a full length video of the first debate held with all four candidates that was hosted by National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation and

Reviewing all of this material, from the questionnaires to the video I quickly saw the choice for me wasn’t going to be that easy. As I said, all have good résumé’s and the experience required for the office. But, as I said above, only one of the four can hold the office.

As stated in a previous post, I am going with Chuck Atkins as I feel he has the most current experience for the job having served in our Sheriff’s Department for 35 years, rising to the top levels within it.

John Graser also has a similar lengthy experience, but I feel his 17 years in retirement would require too much catching up at a time we need a Sheriff ready to hit the road running. Much has changed in that 17 years around the community and in law enforcement.

Chuck Atkins retired in 2012 and in my estimation, he is much more current.

Shane Gardner and Ed Owens are also very good candidates and both can cite strong Military backgrounds. While Chuck did not serve in the Military, that alone is not a requirement for Sheriff.

I looked at experience within law enforcement, primarily our own Clark County Sheriff’s Department and Chuck Atkins holds an edge there.

While others endorsements do not necessarily play much of a role in my decision, it cannot be helped but notice how many other law enforcement personnel are supporting Chuck. Who better actually knows each candidate than those that worked with them over the years?

The local paper endorsed both Shane Gardner and Chuck Atkins to make it through the August Primary.

The main difference I see in both men comes down to experience, Gardner being a Sergeant currently on patrol, but Atkins achieved the level of Sergeant, then Lieutenant, then Commander and finally, Assistant Chief before retiring to run for the position of Sheriff, an elected office.

Clearly Atkins rises above Gardner where actually Command Experience is concerned.

On the plus side for Gardner, he is bilingual, being fluent in Spanish. That can be very helpful in certain situations within the Hispanic Community where someone confronted by a Deputy doesn’t speak English. But would they really have the time to wait for the Sheriff, whose duties go well beyond every day patrol and may require him to be out of town or in meetings, to come out to translate?

Being bilingual is better suited on patrol for our community I feel, instead of in the office.

Still, I feel Gardner will make a good Sheriff in the future as he gains more experience on par with Atkins.

On a more personal perception, even though each Deputy is a professional, I also think there is a potential for at least a small level of ill created should Gardner, a Sergeant jump ahead of his superiors. Human nature what it is, I just feel those other Lieutenants and Commanders might end up feeling a bit slighted should he win.

And again, that is nothing but my own personal perception, not based on anything I have heard or seen.

As I said, this wasn’t an easy decision for me and I have been contemplating on just who I feel would be the best of the four.

But when I compared experience within our Sheriff’s Department and being up to date on our County, clearly Chuck Atkins holds an impressive edge over the rest.

We have four well qualified individuals vying for office this election, but I will be casting my vote for Chuck Atkins.

12 Comments to “Chuck Atkins for Sheriff”

  1. Good food for thought Lew. I am planning on supporting Gardner, but you made some good points about experience. I think the staff at CCSO will be able to rise above any feelings of resentment, so I don’t think Gardner jumping ahead of others should really be a problem. I like Gardner’s sanguine gregariousness – I think that’s a good fit for Sheriff. The Sheriff is not only the face of the Department to the public, but he is also the face of the public to the Department in a manner of speaking. Atkins is a bit too reserved in my opinion – though he is certainly qualified for the job.

  2. Well, after viewing the Columbian editorial board interview with all 4 candidates, I’ve changed my mind on Gardner. I’m supporting Atkins. If you view the video, you’ll understand why.

  3. I appreciate Lew’s carefully thought out rationale for his personal choice. I came to a totally different conclusion when going through my own analysis. As the owner of a graduate of Georgetown University with a Masters in Public Policy and as the owner of a successful consulting firm that works with large organizations to managing transformational change, I know that it is most often NOT the person with the most experience in a job that is the best person to lead an organization into the future. In fact, they can be a real liability because the “old guard” is often blinded by the way things have always been done in the past. Let’s not forget that Mr. Atkins was in senior manager roles during the time the prisons became overcrowded in Clark County and the number of officers on patrol depleted and yet was unable to impact these situations through engagement of the community and city council to solve these problems. What makes us think he will have the right tool kit to do this as Sheriff? He may be an excellent manager, but is he a transformational leader? Perhaps he’d be better suited for the position of under sheriff (the position that manages operations) as opposed to Sheriff. If you read the latest publication from Police Chief Magazine,, the journal notes that:

    “Police leadership is at a crossroads. Many agencies need a fresh perspective on the delivery of services as well as the treatment of police personnel and the citizens they serve. A trend indicates that many agency executives are being chosen through nontraditional means. Command staff and agency CEOs are being selected not from the ranks of deputy chiefs but from the cadre of lower level managers who exhibit leadership talent. Captains are being appointed over deputy chiefs, sergeants are being promoted over lieutenants. The trend indicates a nontraditional response to the need for new leadership perspectives in executive positions.”

    The journal also correctly notes that:
    “….line officers reported increased job satisfaction and exerted extra effort when their leaders demonstrated transformational leadership behaviors…These behaviors were identified and described as the ingredients of transformational leadership:

    * Charisma-providing vision and sense of mission, instilling pride, gaining respect and trust

    *Inspiration-communicating high expectations, using symbols to focus efforts, expressing important purposes in simple ways

    * Intellectual stimulation-promoting intelligence, rationality, and artful problem solving

    * Individualized consideration-giving personal attention, treating each follower individually, coaching and advising

    I’ve known Shane for over 30 years, since he was the student body president of Mountain View High School. In every stage of his life, Shane has exhibited the type of transformational leadership behaviors that are found in the best in class law enforcement agencies around the country. When he joined the Army as an enlisted Soldier he quickly rose above his class becoming an officer and an Airborne Ranger…a leader rises. When he was invited to attend Leadership Clark County in 2010 ( he selected by his peers to be the key note speaker at graduation. Shane just connects with people and helps them think bigger, helps them reach higher, and ultimately become more than they thought they could be. He also is constantly asking the important questions, “Why do we do it this way?”, “Is there a better way?”, “Can we learn from other Police Departments?”, “Are there people in the Sheriff’s office or community whose input is normally excluded because of bias about their “rank” who can offer input into this problem?”

    I have no doubt he will inspire greatness and bring about innovation to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and that every line office will be proud to call him their Sheriff and follow him after he is elected.

    Lastly, for those worried about experience running a police department, Shane will undoubtedly choose an Under Sheriff with complimentary skills to assist with day-to-day management of police operations. Operations management is is not the primary job of Sheriff. The primary job of the elected Sheriff is to help shape the culture and priorities of the police agency to align with the needs of the community and to work with other community leaders and the police organization to solve these issues. This requires a different skill set than that of a tactical manager.

    Shane stands head and shoulders over the other candidates on the quality of leadership.

  4. We each have our own reasons to support who we support, but until criminals decide to commit their crimes in a softer fashion, I’ll stick with more “old guard.”

    Your effort to taint Chuck by claiming he was in “senior management” positions when many problems surfaced neglects that Shane was also there and neither were in the position to make decisions, that fell on Garry Lucas.

    I also disagree with you where experience comes in. While whoever wins in November will undoubtedly make much needed changes, it is experience that will determine what changes are best in my opinion. That last thing we need is an inexperienced novice experimenting with social agendas when strong leadership is needed. If experience plays little, we could just take anybody off the street to be Sheriff and I don’t think either of us would like that.

    And, even though it played a marginal role in my decision, that so many law enforcement people back Chuck is impressive. They know the capabilities of each candidate much more than we do.

  5. Thanks for the reply Lew. think its a healthy exchange of perspectives and appreciate the blog and open exchange of ideas. I think we both agree that experience is important…but I just feel you put too much weight the number of years or the rank an individual obtained to qualify a candidate . Shane has over 15 years with the Clark County Sheriffs Office and is still working there…15 years is a LOT of experience to draw from…we are not talking about anybody off the street.

    Your next argument seems to be that, even though Shane has 15 years with the Sheriff’s office in a variety of roles, including the Community Outreach Sergeant role (a role that Garry Lucas had before he was elected Sheriff at about Shane’s age I might add), that his level of management experience has not been high enough. You contend that you must have been at least a Commander to be anointed Sheriff. This seems to be Chuck’s main argument in the campaign as he routinely disparages Shane as “just a Sergeant” in his closing arguments of community forums. But this very top down, hierarchical way of thinking about who is qualified to serve in leadership roles is precisely the kind of “old school” and outdated thinking that is stifling innovation at so many government organizations and is the point that the article in Police Chief Magazine was making that I excerpted in my original post.

    As junior patrol officer or mid-career prison guard I’d feel reluctant to offer new ideas to my leadership if the culture was such that only the perspective of those with rank of Commander of above was valued. Can you imagine working in a culture where you were told, “You are only a patrol officer, leave it to your superiors to do the thinking.” I’d also be less likely to go above and beyond my basic job description or take leadership initiative if I knew I’d be passed over for promotions based on years with the force or counts of people supervised.

    Shane has done a very courageous thing by running for Sheriff. He has raised his hand as a Sergeant and asserted himself as a leader. This very act shows he’s no ordinary Sergeant. His courage to see things that need to get done, changes that need to be made, and not waiting for someone else to do it but step up to lead shows his character. What better way to inspire his colleagues who also may have untapped potential to be more than to run and be elected Sheriff.

    Some of his colleagues may back Chuck now because he is familiar to them as their former supervisor or because they have been told that only supervisors can be leaders…but once Shane is elected they will appreciate having someone who is a great listener, a great communicator, open to new ideas from ALL parts of the organization, and does not stifle innovation and acts of leadership but rewards it. Let’s face it, the world is changing. Successful organizations are flatter and more inclusive. Facebook was founded by a guy in college…innovation and leadership come from unexpected places and organizations too rigidly focused on promoting the guy who has never worked for any other organization since high school are being left in dust.

  6. As I said, everybody must vote according to their views. And yes, experience is a biggie with me, especially top level experience.

    I have no problem with Shane, but being a Sheriff is much different than being a Patrol Deputy or even an Army Officer.

    Maybe because I am an “old guy” myself, but I see nothing wrong with some of the Old School and feel our country would be better off if we returned to much of it. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it is not functional any longer.

    I do think that one day Shane will make a very good Sheriff, after he gains more law enforcement experience. But for now, I feel jumping from Patrol, even as a Sergeant to Sheriff is too much a leap and Chucks Command Experience within the Department is a strong asset.

    So I’ll stick with Chuck.

  7. Hi Lew,

    Long time no chat. I appreciate your work on the Sheriff recommendations. I was surprised at the lack of extensive coverage, nice to see you pick up the ball.

    My questions around sheriffs are:

    1. How to avoid expensive lawsuits like we see with

    2. Response to marijuana legalization – how do we reconcile Federal vs. State law? Bonus point on what to do with county law?

    I’m watching the video now, and kudos to everyone who participated for that.

  8. Their thoughts on avoiding wrongful conviction lawsuits was covered in part one of my questionnaire to them all

    I addressed drugs in general, not legalization of marijuana, in part three

    That may not address your question, though

  9. Thanks for the response. I hadn’t read the first interview (due to time constraints) and am impressed by your question.

    However, I have to be a PITA and the comments appear to be closed for part one so I’ll respond here. In the part one comments you state “That I recall, there have only been two perfect people ever created. One failed due to temptation and the other was crucified on a cross.” but I will reply with:

    Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

    Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

    Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

    2nd Kings 20:3 I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

    I hope we both understand translation issues…

    🙂 !!!

  10. Sorry about comments closing after a bit, but I was forced to do that as older articles were being heavily spammed, approaching 700 a day.

    Without digging out the old Strong’s, I’m going to assume differing definitions from translation of the original to the word “perfect.” And some of the original carry multiple meanings too, I remember that from studies long ago.

    But I also gather you understand my point there 😉

  11. Seriously though, I will steal a comment from SlashDot ( and ask “What candidates support DUI checkpoints, free speech zones, unfettered border searches, constitution-free zones, the TSA, the NSA’s mass surveillance, protest permits, stop-and-frisk-type policies, unwarranted surveillance in general, or assassination of US citizens without trial?”

    and I would be quite interested to hear the responses. Truly pathetic that I have to ask such questions…

  12. Those are above my paygrade 😉

    But, maybe close, I did ask all of them their view of what went on down in Bunkerville, NV.

Leave a Reply. Comments are moderated. Spam & off topic comments will not be approved at Blog Author's discretion. THIS IS NOT A FREE SPEECH ZONE!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: