OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Wayne Hudson, one of the Democrats running for Douglas County Sheriff, says he has the experience that matters.
“I can take over, day one and run this agency," Hudson said.
After over 25 years with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Hudson said he’s ready to lead the agency.
Interim sheriff Tom Wheeler says Hudson will be a good fit, which is why he’s given Hudson his endorsement and why he’s made Hudson his chief deputy.
“His responsibilities are the day-to-day operations of the department," Wheeler said. "His leadership has been felt throughout the department.”
Hudson has three main focuses for his campaign: competitive salaries to recruit and keep deputies, keeping law enforcement out of mental health calls when possible and community policing.
Hudson says he's working with the union to increase salaries for deputies.
“Right now, they’re underpaid," Hudson said. "Right now there are comparative agencies, not around this metropolitan area, and we’re not losing deputies to those agencies. We’re losing them to the Omaha Police Department, Bellevue and some other agencies."
Hudson said he's also working to bring in more minority deputies. One way he's doing so is by working with a firm to make testing more accessible to women and minorities, and by advertising in areas where these groups will see the job openings.
“We’re on the verge of hiring our second African-American female on the department in over 60 years," Hudson said.
Hudson also said he'd like to consider ways to keep law enforcement out of a mental health crisis when possible.
“Mental health practitioners should be dispatched the call, if there’s no danger to the person or danger to themselves," Hudson said. "If there is, we should respond, secure the individual, then turn them over to somebody else so we can go out and do law enforcement type functions.”
Hudson also said he would make a point to do more community-focused policing, but says that does not mean he'll be soft on crime.
Instead, he wants to have a working relationship with the community and hear their concerns.
“Let them speak their mind, let them talk about the feelings they’re having with law enforcement right now," Hudson said. "And then I can talk about what law enforcement is looking at. We have to have those conversations to build those bridges.”
He said this is something he's already been working on in his current role.
“One of the first things that I did when I took over as chief deputy, is I challenged all my captains to find a community service project and get that started within the first three months," Hudson said. "And all of them have completed that.”
Hudson said with help from his team, he will continue doing the work for the Sheriff's Office while campaigning.
“They’re going to take the focus of managing the campaign; I’m still going to do my day-to-day duties as managing the department, but still be involved in my campaign," Hudson said. "Anything that comes out of my campaign, will be signed off on me, approved by me.”
Two other men have announced their candidacy for the sheriff's seat.
Greg Gonzalez, a Democrat, serves as deputy police chief with the Omaha Police Department.
He has a 28-year career in law enforcement and serves on non-profit boards including the Police Athletics for Community Engagement (PACE).
Aaron Hanson, a Republican, has been with the Omaha Police Department for around 25 years.
He's served as a patrol officer, gang unit sergeant and fugitive task force supervisor.