Major John Randall is the new chief deputy of the Vernon County Sheriff’s office. In his 18th year with the force, Randall, who describes himself as “old school,” asked to be photographed this way but the interview made it clear he has a heart for people and a chance to serve.
As of Jan. 1, Major John Randall of the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office is the new chief deputy. He succeeds Shane Simmons who took the position of chief deputy in Bates County.
“It was a goal I had set for myself years ago and now it’s reality,” said Randall about one day wanting to hold the position he now occupies.
Asked about his job description Randall put up his hand and said, “I don’t know exactly because the sheriff is rewriting the job description to fit the way things are around here.”
By way of explanation, Randall said the sheriff is looking at several positions, including Randall’s former position of supervising the detectives and adjusting job descriptions so that the strengths of people match the work which needs to be done.
“So for example, I think I will still supervise the detectives but I know I’m already in charge of inmate transportation,” explained Randall. “And in this department, that’s a big responsibility with all the prisoners we house for different cities and counties,” explained Randall.
He added it is the patrol lieutenant who supervises the deputies but he is in charge of building maintenance.
“And despite all the issues we’ve had with this new jail, I remember the old one and I’ll take this one any day of the week,” said Randall.
Born and raised in Pleasant Hill, Mo., John Randall graduated from the Kansas City Regional Police Academy in 1985. He then worked for a short stint as a deputy with Cass County then with the police department in the town of Peculiar, also in Cass County, before returning to being a deputy with that county.
“I guess I was inspired by my oldest brother, who was a Wyandotte County deputy sheriff,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Randall joined the Missouri National Guard and, over the years, was part of two military police units, the first of which was originally based in his hometown of Pleasant Hill.
“I retired as a staff sergeant in June 2015,” said Randall. “At that point, I had been in and out of the guard for about 29 years and had a total of 24 years of recognized service.”
Those years of service saw a number of deployments including duty in Jefferson Parish, La., as part of the response to Hurricane Katrina and in 2003-04 in Baghdad as well as in manhunts, flood duty and other security operations which included his unit being placed on active duty status.
Besides that brother who is also a sheriff’s deputy, Randall has a brother in the U.S. Army and another in the United States Marine Corps.
“I guess you could say patriotism and a sense of duty to serve people kind of runs in our family,” said the new chief deputy.
When not deployed or on active duty, Randall, who had left police work for a number of years, tried his hand at construction — framing houses — and driving trucks.
“In the year 2000, I asked a friend who was a deputy in Bates County if he knew of any openings because I wanted to get back into law enforcement,” said Randall. “He then contacted Mickey Mason, who was then the sheriff of Vernon County. I interviewed one day, started the next and now I’m starting my 18th year here.”
Randall and his wife, Moria, were married in 2009. She works in the circuit clerk’s office in Barton County. He paid tribute to her, focusing on how being a spouse to anyone in law enforcement or the military takes a special person to endure the worries and crazy schedules.
And as to the size of their family, he said, “Let’s just say that between the two of us we have a number of children and grandchildren and Christmas gets kind of crazy but really, it’s all good.”
“This job is not like when I was framing houses and pretty much knew what I’d be doing every day,” said Randall. “If my phone rings and it’s something I need to put my eyes on, I go and put my eyes on whatever the situation is.”
So far, he is finding there is a bit more of what he called “detail work” to the job than he was aware of but one thing he emphasized is how glad he is to have his new position.
“I really enjoy the job and the people I work with,” said Randall.
However, when he mentioned the public he put it this way, “I really like trying to help people.”
Asked to say more Randall said, “Helping people is hard sometimes. Things don’t always turn out the way you or they’d like them to be and I’ve had to learn to accept that.”
He was not only speaking about apprehending and convicting a “bad guy,” but also in finding or changing people.
“I believe in drug courts and treatment and counseling but …” Randall’s voice trailed off.
“I understand addiction is something that really grabs hold of you and it’s hard to break but sometimes people don’t put in the effort or use the opportunities their families or law enforcement or the courts give folks,” said the chief deputy. “And that’s not always easy to take.”
Asked to speak about challenges in law enforcement from his office he named three.
He acknowledged the ongoing challenges of drug use and people committing other crimes in order to purchase drugs.
“One of the harder types of crimes for a smaller agency like ours is cybercrime,” said Randall. “Identity theft and scams are on the rise and we really have little way to track the perpetrators down let alone catch them.”
A second challenge is related to pay and benefits.
“I’m glad to hear the new county budget will include a small pay raise for our deputies,” said Randall. “Too often it’s a case of counties like ours training up new recruits and then they go off to some place that pays thousands more. You can’t blame them for leaving, especially if they’ve got a family but it’s hard on our force.”
One benefit the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office offers as an incentive to stay with the force is additional specialized training.
“Everyone in law enforcement is required to get 24 hours of continuing education a year,” said Randall. “Some can be online but some has to be hands-on and in different areas. We encourage people to go beyond that and get training in something maybe nobody else in our department has any training in. And that helps.”
While Randall described himself as being “old school,” he clearly relishes his new position and the ways in which he can serve the sheriff’s office but also the people of Vernon County.
Over the years, John Randall has gone from private to major. And while he outranks everyone in his family, when asked he said, “I’ll answer to most anything but call me chief.”
By Johannes Brann | Nevada Daily Mail