GRAHAM, TX (KAUZ) - As early voting for the March 1st Primary wraps up across Texoma, the race for the next Young County Sheriff is heating up. Although there are five Republican candidates on the ballot they all have one thing in common, if elected, they want to address the county's drug problem.
Travis Babcock started his career in law enforcement in 2004. He worked his way through the jail system, doing transport then as courtroom security. He moved to Graham in 2006, and became a work crew deputy, then went to school to become a certified peace officer. He started working with the Young County Sheriff's Office with the K9 unit. He later went to work at the Graham Police Department where he is currently employed.
"The people in Young County deserve more than they've been getting," said Babcock. "That's why I'm running. I'm running for them."
He said with his integrity, professionalism, morals and accountability, it's a relationship with the community he hopes to grow, along with putting a stop to the revolving door he calls drugs.
"What I'd like to do to is get a jail ministry back in the jail," said Babcock. "I'd like to get a treatment program started with the drug users when they come in, so they have a support system already set up."
Something he said would clean up the streets, not just mask the problem.
It's a similar stance as Bill Jay Hutchens.
"I would really like to focus on helping the drug users through charity organization or events," said Hutchens. "Getting that started, so that these people can have a place to go for help."
Its help for drug users, as well as a multi-jurisdictional task force, that Hutchens believes will help fight the problem.
Hutchens has 22 years of front line law enforcement experience. From graduating the police academy in Abilene, to working for the Graham Police Department, he has 8 years of undercover experience. He now works as an investigator at the Palo Pinto Sheriff's Office.
"In Young County right now, the citizens really don't have a good relationship with the Sheriff's Office," said Hutchens.
That's something he hopes to change, by getting out in the community and developing a relationship with the youth.
Another candidate said the community can become a policing tool.
"I plan to use a community policing model in the county, in which the citizens would try to connect with each other," said Joe Siskar. "The deputies would be introducing themselves so they become familiar with the area."
It's Joe Siskar's third time throwing his hat in the race for Young County Sheriff. He said he started with law enforcement back in 1991 in Colorado. There, he started as a reserve and moving up to field training officer, even being called on as a first responder in the Columbine High School shooting massacre. He also served as a Young County Deputy, Chief Deputy, then worked his way up at the Graham Police Department. He left the police department in 2013.
"I want to have deputies on 24 hours 7 days a week, which we don't have now," said Siskar. "If we can get a handle on the drug situation the crime rate is going to go down."
Like other candidates, he wants to regain the community's trust. For Jabe Underwood, it's this, coupled with advanced training, which will bring the sheriff's office success.
"The biggest goal is to bring some advanced training to the area," said Underwood. "I believe in giving everybody the tools to do their job, to not only do it, but excel at it."
Underwood was born and raised in Graham, and upon graduating high school he went on the United States Marine Corps. Later down the road, he began his career in law enforcement. In east Texas, he worked for the Longview Police Department, while working with SWAT and tactical training. He later had the opportunity to come back to Graham first with the Graham Police Department and then with the Young County Sheriff's Office. Now he trains globally for Blauer Tactical training SWAT officers.
"We're going to have to address the upper crust of the drug world," said Underwood. "Getting dope off the street isn't just your dime bag or your user amount. We need to be going after the guys who are trafficking it in here and supplying it."
He said, he'd do that by open communication and interaction with the community. For the final candidate, the drug problem will be solved when the three Young County law enforcement agencies join forces.
"Together we're a force to be dealt with, but separate we really can't do a whole lot," said Tim Bay. "So we have to be able to work together to fight crime."
Tim Bay's law enforcement career started 24 years ago. First, as a Wichita Falls Police Officer, then as a Young County Sheriff's Deputy. He started in patrol and working his way up to captain within the Sheriff's office. He now works special crimes, and has been with the office for 20 years.
While he said drugs are a problem he also said he's ready to fight, and his experience gives him that ability.
"There's not much that can be thrown at me that I haven't already seen," said Bay. "I'm not trying to pat myself on the back and I'm not Gods gift to law enforcement. I'm not a politician, I'm a cop, and that's all I know how to do."