The race for Williams County Sheriff is pitting two longtime lawmen against each other, but their experiences are quite different.
Verlan Kvande has served as sheriff since July 2017, when he took over for longtime sheriff Scott Busching. He has worked in various departments of the sheriff’s office since 1998.
Lloyd Haagenson is currently a probation officer in Williston, a position that he’s held since 2000. He has been in law enforcement for nearly 30 years.
Since starting his career in the correctional center 20 years ago, Kvande has worked in just about every aspect of the sheriff’s office. He was a patrol deputy, a detective and served as chief deputy from 2011 until July 2017, when he was tapped to replace Busching. He said his experience with different departments in the office has helped him as far as managing the staff.
“I can help them through whatever questions they may have,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges Kvande sees for the sheriff’s office is the increasing workload. Whether looking at calls for service or criminal cases filed, the numbers are up. The department needs to make sure it has enough manpower not only to keep up with that workload, but also be proactive and help deal with problems before they get big.
That means needing to evaluate multiple needs.
“Are we hitting those things?” he asked.
One way of doing that is by effectively managing the people who work for the sheriff’s office.
“It’s putting the right people in the right position,” he said.
Another goal for him is improving the training in the department, especially with scenario-based training.
“I think we’ve lacked on that in the past,” he said. “That’s one of the things that’s going to be expected from law enforcement.”
Kvande said he also hopes to increase the level of communication with the community at large and letting them know he’s available to them.
“I’m willing to talk with anyone who wants to discuss something,” he said.
Haagenson’s career has included eight years as a sheriff’s deputy in Golden Valley and Williams counties, but it’s also taken less traditional turns. In 1998 he was hired to be the director of the Williams County Youth Assessment Center, a 10-12 bed facility.
“It was a pretty valuable experience to have to hire staff (for the center),” he said.
After two years in the position, he started working as a probation officer in Williams County, a position he’s held ever since.
His career has influenced the priorities he would have if he were elected sheriff. One major issue for him is connecting more with the community and focusing on prevention and education.
“I think we’ve got the be more aggressive getting out to our communities,” he said.
One thing he would do is create a task force to look at substance abuse and what can be done to fight it. He said he’d like to get medical and mental health professionals, as well as law enforcement and city and county officials to work together on the issue.
He noted that it costs $50,000 per year to keep one inmate in prison, and if there are ways to keep people out of the system, it would save money as well as improve the quality of life in the area.
“We’ve got to do something else,” he said.
He also wants to have more deputies in the schools, both for community relations and for safety. School violence is a problem everywhere, he said.
“These things concern me, and I think they can happen right here in Williams County.”