In the movie “Rio Bravo,” a friend of Sheriff John T. Chance tells him to swear in some of the townfolk as deputies in order to fight the bad guys.

“Suppose I got ‘em. What’d I have?” Sheriff Chance replies. “Some well meaning amateurs. ... No, Pat. All I’d be doing is giving them more targets to shoot at.”

I know growing up with a grandmother who loves John Wayne and old westerns, my vision of a aheriff was just that, an outnumbered guy standing in the middle of a street ready to shoot down the bad guy.

Heck, even the movie “High Noon” emphasizes this in its climatic scene of the lanky sheriff facing down the bad guy while frightened townfolk peep out of windows to see who will be left standing. In this day and age, that image of a sheriff is no longer adequate. 

Jackson County is no longer a place of prairies and dust. We have become a growing metropolitan area facing increasing law-enforcement challenges, including homeland security issues. Our Sheriff’s Office is a full-service law enforcement agency that consists of various divisions: Patrol, Investigations, Warrants, Courthouse Security, Sex Offender Registration Enforcement, and Staff Services. Therefore, some requirements to do the job, and do it well, become necessary.

Personally, someone with the following attributes would be great for our growing, diverse county: law-enforcement experience, a proven record of leadership, integrity, fiscal responsibility, and the will attack crime without mercy in order to protect the innocent citizens of our county.

Jackson County communities are no longer like the fictional towns in my grandmother’s old westerns, towns in which law-enforcement experience was not as crucial to the job of sheriff as it is today.

A sheriff is not just a law-enforcement officer. It’s a person who is the administrator of a huge budget. An individual who creates polices that affect citizens. One of our own who leads by example. Experience and integrity should prevail. Someone with character – a mix of humility and decency. That is what I want in a public servant.

The position of sheriff must not be taken lightly, and keeping crime in check is not an easy task. In less than a week, it will be up to Jackson County voters to determine whose job it will be. Visit the candidate’s Web sites and decide who should be sheriff.

No matter what, vote for someone on Tuesday