Sheriff’s makes re-election bid | RecordCourier.com

Sheriff’s makes re-election bid

by Sheila Gardner

Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini, who has spent more than half his life in law enforcement, announced plans to seek election to a third term.

“I enjoy doing what I do,” Pierini said in an interview Wednesday. “I am not burned out even after more than 30 years. There are a lot of challenges facing this community and I think it’s critical we have somebody in this office who understands the history.”

Pierini recently submitted a five-year plan to county commissioners that calls for an additional 45 positions that would take the 106-employee office to 151.

The new employees would include deputies and support personnel.

He also proposed a $1 million jail expansion to add 50 beds to the 115-inmate facility.

“The biggest problem a department can have is to fall so far behind that you start losing the community to crime,” Pierini said. “Once that happens, you can never catch up.”

Pierini stressed that Douglas County has not reached that point.

“We have some extremely busy times,” he said. “Our deputies are overburdened. We are losing the opportunity for preventative measures.”

Last year, three deputies were wounded by gunfire. In addition, a suspect was killed in a shootout with two deputies who were injured at a Stateline casino.

Pierini said the department averages 60,000 calls for service a year ranging from animal complaints to shootings.

Five years ago, Pierini said the number was about 35,000 calls.

Pierini praised his department, which faced increased challenges last year including three deputies who were wounded in shootings with suspects.

“Our department is well-managed and I have the very best law enforcement personnel anyone could ask for,” he said.

Recruitment and retention of personnel is a challenge for law enforcement agencies nationwide, Pierini said.

“The biggest hurdle we have is attracting quality people,” Pierini said.

Starting pay for a deputy is about $39,000 a year.

Pierini said the no. 1 crime problem in Douglas County is illegal drugs, specifically methamphetamine.

“The methamphetamine problem is out of control. I don’t see it going away for a long time,” Pierini said. “We deal with it through law enforcement, but I still believe education is a key to resolving it.

“A lot of families are under pressure. They suspect their kids are in trouble and they don’t know where to go for help,” he said. “Denial never works.”

Pierini also said the department had stepped up efforts to target underage drinking.

He’s active in a national alcohol prevention program.

“Statistics show the chance is four times greater that when a child drinks heavily, he or she will get into controlled substances,” Pierini said.

Pierini, 54, began his law enforcement career as a 17-year-old cadet in Carson City. He joined the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office 30 years ago.

He was appointed sheriff in 1997 to fill out the unexpired term of Jerry Maple retired. Pierini has been unopposed for two terms.

“I’ve enjoyed the challenges,” he said. “At a younger age, I enjoyed the excitement.

“I would like to think I am extremely pro-active, bringing new programs,” he said.

Pierini emphasized the support he has received from the community and how much the department depends on residents.

He estimated the department’s 300 volunteers have saved the county $1.5 million over the last five years.

“We need to have people helping us out,” he said. “We need the residents to be the eyes and ears of our county.”

At an age when many of his contemporaries are retiring, Pierini said he’s ready for another term.

“I don’t want people to think there is anything stale about this department,” Pierini said. “The energy I have for this position continues to grow because of the support I continue to receive from the Douglas County residents.”

The base salary for the elected office is $81,846.

Pierini earned a bachelor of arts degree in administration of criminal justice from the University of Nevada, Reno. He has an executive certificate from the Nevada Peace Officers’ Standard and Training Commission.

Pierini is past-president of the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association and serves on the Nevada Peace Officers’ Standard and Training commission, the Nevada Amber Alert Advisory Council, the federal Rural Law Enforcement Technology Advisory Council, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police Volunteers of Police Service Council.

Pierini, a Republican, is active in community organizations.

He is a member of the International Foot Printers, Carson Valley Kiwanis Club, Tahoe-Douglas Rotary Club, the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Minden/Douglas Elks Lodge.

He has received several community awards including Carson Valley Sertoma Club’s Service to Mankind Award, and citizen of the year awards from Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, Minden/Douglas Elks Lodge, Carson Valley Active 20/30 Club.

He also was awarded the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow Award.