Endorsement: Gardner earns another term as sheriff

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Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner is a solid public servant, willing to adapt to the changing needs of law enforcement while maintaining the Linn County department’s long-standing commitment to community relations. He’s earned a third term.

Since being elected as sheriff eight years ago, Gardner has brought a drive for excellence, dedication and professionalism to his duties. That no election challengers emerged from the department speaks volumes to the comfort and respect surrounding Gardner’s leadership.

Gardner, an incumbent Democrat, knows his office from bottom to top. He joined the Linn County Sheriff’s Office right out of high school. He’s excelled through the ranks since that time, actively seeking experience, training and opportunities to lead.

As sherif, Gardner has made available to his deputies and other staff leadership development training that focuses on building community trust, self awareness and self-care. While state leaders seek solutions to the influx of the mentally ill into local jails, Gardner has sought proactive solutions. A group of his employees will soon receive Crisis Intervention Team Training, and will, in turn, train all department employees to better assist citizens in crisis. As law enforcement agencies throughout the country appear to be moving toward enhanced militarization in response to violent incidents, Gardner trained his department to de-escalate and reach for non-lethal weapons when possible.

Gardner’s challenger, Libertarian Rick Stewart, has raised some broad and interesting questions about drug enforcement policy in the U.S., but he doesn’t have the experience necessary to run an agency with nearly 200 employees and a more than $21 million budget.

When discussing complex issues of community relations, weapons permitting, technologies such as body cameras for deputies or the challenges of mental health and drug abuse in law enforcement and the jail, Gardner is thoughtful and knowledgeable. If anything, we’d like him to be more publicly outspoken about these issues. As a past president of the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association, and with more than three decades of experience, we can think of few as qualified as Gardner to speak on behalf of the needs and challenges facing law enforcement, or to offer proposals on thorny problems like community violence and the opioid epidemic.

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