Barton County resident Richard W. Unrein announced his intention to file for the Republican nomination for Barton County Sheriff. Unrein said he would bring his law enforcement, management and leadership experience to the Sheriff’s Office. His focus would be to provide service, cooperation, communication and protection to the citizens of Barton County.
He has 27 years of supervisory experience, both in the public and private sector. He also has 25 years of business management experience as an employed manager and a small business owner. He said his intention is to be a working sheriff, not just a figurehead. Being proactive and not reactive is vital to providing a proficient office.
Unrein has served the citizens of Barton County for over 20 years as a law enforcement officer. He began his law enforcement career as a patrol deputy in 1990. In 1993 he was promoted to canine officer for the Sheriff’s Office. In 1994 he completed training and became a DARE Officer for the department. He was then promoted to patrol sergeant in the same year, one of three supervisors in the Patrol Division. In 1997, Unrein was promoted to administrative lieutenant and jail administrator. He provided management control of the Barton County Jail and supervision of its detention staff. He was responsible for the screening, testing, interviewing, and training of all Sheriff’s Office personnel. Richard was involved with the annual Sheriff’s Office budget process. He was also given the responsibility to oversee the Records and Patrol Divisions, and write and update policies and procedures. His said his leadership style is to lead by example.
Unrein took the initiative to write grants assisting the Sheriff’s Office in purchasing and updating equipment, saving the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. In 1998, Unrein began collaborating with all of the police departments in Barton County, Barton County 911 Communications and the county attorney’s office to form the Barton County Criminal Justice Information System. This paved the way to establish a county-wide records management system that allows all law enforcement agencies to share one database and to work together fighting crime in the county. Prior to this, all agencies were on their own; sharing information was not common. He wrote grants to assist all agencies in financing the CJIS Project, receiving over $200,000 in a federal grant. The BCJIS project went live online in 2002 and is still in operation. He was the county-wide computer network administrator. Unrein also obtained grants for equipment and services for the Sheriff’s Office which includes funding for DUI checklanes.
Unrein cofounded the Central Kansas DARE Officers Association in 1997. This association includes all active DARE officers employed by the law enforcement agencies in Barton and Stafford counties. Unrein currently serves as president.
Unrein co-founded the Kansas Police Dog Association in 1998. He proudly served as secretary/treasurer for one year and president for one year. This association includes law enforcement canine teams throughout the state of Kansas. This association was responsible for the certification of canine teams and provides proficiency training for those teams.
During his employment at the Sheriff’s Office, he served as a law enforcement adviser to the local Crimestoppers board of directors and spokesman for the Crimestopper re-enactments from 1999-2003.
Unrein joined the CASA Board of Directors in 1995. He was elected to his current position as president in 2008. The Court Appointed Special Advocate program provides volunteer advocates to ensure the abused and/or neglected children in the 20th Judicial District have a voice in court. During that time, he constructed two Victorian style two-story playhouses that were used as fundraisers for the local organization.
Unrein is a member of the Prince of Peace Parish and joined Pastoral Council in 2008 and served until 2011. He was chairman of the council in the 2010-2011.
He said he was encouraged and supported to file for the Sheriff’s position by Barton County employees and residents, because they feel the need of his experience, professionalism and involvement in the community over the other candidates.
Unrein and his wife Gerry moved to Barton County in 1981 and purchased a home in the county in 1984. Richard and Gerry have been married for over 30 years and have one son, Dylan.
Unrein has received numerous awards throughout his law enforcement career including Great Bend Jaycees Outstanding Young Protector in 1994 and 1995, Kansas Jaycees State of Kansas Outstanding Young Protector in 1995, and State of Kansas CASA Outstanding Board Member of the Year in 2000.
He is employed by Barton Community College and working part time for the Claflin Police Department. He received an Associate of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Bachelor of Science in Applied Management.