Q&A with Bobby Harpole for Erath County sheriff

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
Bobby Harpole

1. What are the duties of the sheriff?  

As the chief law enforcement officer of Erath County, the sheriff should ensure his officers are always working to protect the citizens by enforcing federal and state laws while always being

alert for citizens who may be in distress. 

The sheriff's office should always be available to any citizen to discuss or listen to the needs, fostering a positive, open and transparent relationship with the community.  As long as an investigation or prosecution is not being jeopardized, I believe it's the duty of the sheriff, as an elected official, to share with citizens as much information as possible in terms they can understand. 

The sheriff should also ensure there is proper and timely processing of cases and evidence,

while establishing positive morale and professionalism within the office.  

2. What is the most pressing challenge facing the Erath County Sheriff's Office?

The top four issues impacting the office include: salaries, attrition, image and morale. In some cases, new hires are below our first choice in terms of skill and experience-often due to pay.  We invest in inexperienced employees, providing extensive training to further develop them and then lose them to higher paying agencies. 

As sheriff, I would strive to hire and retain the most qualified personnel to serve Erath County by working with the commissioner's court to establish a competitive salary that will attract and retain the best law enforcement officials.  

Internally, the sheriff should evaluate morale, professionalism and teamwork needed for the department to thrive and better serve citizens. 

3. What is your background in law enforcement?

I have 47 continuous years of law enforcement experience, serving across the state with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) as a Highway Patrol officer and sergeant for 35 years.  I moved my family to Stephenville in l980, where I worked for 25 years as a DPS supervisor over Erath, Hood, Hamilton and Comanche counties.  I continued my law enforcement  career with the Erath County Sheriff's for 12 years, rising to the rank of Captain. 

I hold a Master Peace Officers Certification, and I am a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute. I have trained and managed troopers across the state, deputies across the count and supervised administrative and skilled personnel. My years of experience give me to motivate employees to perform their best. 

I have protected presidents, senators, congressmen, governors and religious leaders. I have statewide disaster experience, dealing with man made and natural incidents.  My extensive riot and protest experience includes response to prison riots, serving at the Branch Davidian raid, and my active-shooter experience is first hand. I'm a firearms instructor, and I taught at multiple law enforcement academies.  I'm a current member of the Critical Incident Stress Management Team.

4. In term of the county budget, do you feel the county is heading in the right direction?

I strongly believe our county commissioners, treasurer and judge have worked diligently to manage tax dollars effectively, creating a strong financial platform. The importance of conservative spending and financial management of the sheriff's office is necessary before utilizing additional tax dollars. 

In regard to the budget for the office; I will establish a logic for saving and evaluating in order to eliminate unnecessary expenses.  Following a critical decision on wages, I would then look to fleet operations.  I believe a safe and economical fleet increases officer safety and longevity of the vehicles while saving thousands of dollars that could be better spent elsewhere. 

ECSO should collaborate with other local agencies and communities to save funds and/or generate revenue for services like training and communications. Grants and other provisions beyond county tax dollars should be sourced, directing previously allocated fund back into the budget. 

5. What strengths do you possess that would make you a good sheriff?

When citizens and Erath County employees sought me out on multiple occasions stating that paramount changes needed to be made with the current administration I knew it was time for me to return to active law enforcement duty.

Strong ethics and morals are ingrained in my character and will never fade or waiver. to "serve and protect" is in my blood. 

My training and first-hand experience in critical incidents and budgetary matters far exceed other candidates running for the office of Erath County Sheriff.  

While I was initially approached about the appointment following the untimely death of Sheriff Tommy Bryant, I declined due to family circumstances that would not have allowed me to give 110%.  I'm now ready to lead the sheriff's office in the right direction, serving as a hands-on mentor to officers and staff.

I vow to ensure Erath County Sheriff's Office is operating at the highest level of professionalism with increased morale and true transparency.