Hobe Runion: the People’s Sheriff

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He was content serving as the Chief Deputy for the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office. However, Hobe Runion would answer a higher calling when the people of Sebastian County chose him to serve as their next Sheriff.

He started his law enforcement career in 1990 as a reserve patrolman for the city of Barling. He was hired by the Lavaca Police Department as a patrolman in 1992 and served there until 2000. “I knew if I wanted to continue my career in law enforcement I needed to broaden my horizons, so I put in applications only to places I would consider working.”The SCSO was the first place that contacted him, and he knew it was no accident. “I feel very strongly about that,” he added.

During his time at the sheriff’s department he has served as a Patrol Deputy, Resource Officer, criminal investigator, Investigator SGT., Captain, SWAT team member and team leader, and as the Chief Deputy since 2014. In total, Runion has over 27 years of uninterrupted law enforcement service.

“Quite honestly I thought the sheriff would run one more term and that would be it, and I was okay with that…” So when the former sheriff came to Runion and informed him he was not going to run again, he took some time, albeit a short period of time, to talk to his wife, friends and to pray about it.

Runion took office on January 1, and he and interim Sheriff Kevin Nickson effectively switched badges. Nickson now serves as the Chief Deputy, under Runion.

He felt like he “hit a home run” gaining Nickson as his Chief Deputy. The duo have worked together for over two decades and share similar philosophies. This, according to Runion, helped transition him smoothly into his new role.

“I always felt responsible for the department even as chief deputy, however, there is a level of accountability (as Sheriff). If there was some traumatic experience, people wouldn’t blame the chief deputy, they look to the elected official.”

One of the things Runion enjoyed most about serving as Chief Deputy was the ability to be involved in the community and he plans to continue doing that as Sheriff. “I will continue to do my primary job, which is running this department, however, I feel very strongly that running this department involves the community…I want the people to put a face with a name and I want them to know I truly care about the community.”

Runion acknowledged that there will be issues that will come about, but he is motivated to continue working and nurturing relationships with the citizens of Sebastian County. “…It’s about people.”

In keeping with his campaign promises, Runion remains involved and committed to the Sebastian County Opioid Task Force as well as searching for ways to improve the conditions at the jail.

Runion said one of the biggest challenges he faces going forward is balancing the jail capacity with the availability of what we have.”

With the jail’s history of “being under the gun” Runion is always seeking alternative measures to address the jail population and staffing issues. One of those measures the Quorum Court and Sebastian County Judge David Hudson is exploring are proposals from private companies to come in and assess the criminal justice system and make recommendations.

Currently, he is working to address known issues such as the radio reception in South Sebastian County. “It’s almost a safety issue and I want to continue to follow up on that,” he added.

Undoubtedly Runion’s commitment to not only protect the citizens of Sebastian County but also be of service is at the heart of the people’s sheriff.

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Tammy Teague

Tammy Teague

Mansfield native, with roots in Scott County. Daughter, sister, wife and Christian. Education: 1995 MHS graduate; 1999 Arkansas Tech University Graduate - BA in Journalism. Career: Managing Editor - The Citizen; Copy Writer - Southwest Times Record; 20+ years experience in the news.

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