Capt. Rick Kelley announces run for White County sheriff

  • Rick Kelley
    Rick Kelley
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(An extended report will be included in the Oct. 3 issue of the White County News.)

Capt. Rick Kelley of the White County Sheriff’s Office says he plans to run for sheriff in 2020.

The 42-year-old White County native made the declaration Tuesday afternoon, a week after longtime sheriff Neal Walden formally announced he will not seek re-election next year.

“I have had the privilege of working for Sheriff Walden for the past 16 years, and hope I can follow in his footsteps continuing to serve our community,” Kelley said.

Kelley started his career at the White County Sheriff’s Office in 2003 working in the detention center, civil division, and the patrol division. His latest promotion in 2016 placed him over the WCSO investigations division.

“We have always had a wonderful community, and I want to make sure our community continues to be safe, not only for my family, but for everyone in the community,” Kelley said. “This community and the Office of the Sheriff are very important to me personally. I’ve had opportunities to work for other law enforcement agencies making more money, but I chose to remain at the White County Sheriff’s Office because White County is, and has always been, my home.”

He also outlined planned initiatives to address criminal activity.

“I want to take a proactive and aggressive stance against the crime rate and drug problem we have in this county,” Kelley said.

One such goal is to establish a “crime suppression unit” using existing personnel.

“This unit will target problem areas within the county using aggressive and concentrated patrol techniques to help aid our investigators and our drug task force,” he said.

Other proposals include adding a K-9 dog to the WCSO patrol division to aid in illicit drug detection, as well as moving toward “more of a community-oriented style of policing.”

“Our community has been very supportive of the Sheriff’s Office in the past, and I feel it is important to strengthen that bond between the community and law enforcement moving forward. I believe communication is the key to strengthening that bond,” Kelley said. “To accomplish this, I want to implement a citizen’s law enforcement academy at the Sheriff’s Office in order to help the community better understand how law enforcement works and help the community better understand some of the processes that law enforcement officers have to follow.”

He said he would also like to provide the public with educational seminars on current issues the WCSO is addressing.

“The seminars will not only be held as a means of public education but will also give the Sheriff’s Office an opportunity to receive important feedback from the community,” Kelley said. “I truly believe by working together, we can all achieve our goal of keeping White County a great place to live.”

The veteran law officer said he will run as a Republican.