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Mark Stone to run for county sheriff

Feb 28, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The retired Riverton police captain and current Riverton school board member is a Republican.

Mark Stone, a 19-year veteran of the Riverton Police Department and past chairman of the Riverton school board, will run as a Republican for the office of Fremont County Sheriff. He is the only person so far who has made public plans to challenge incumbent Sheriff Skip Hornecker.

The two will meet in the GOP primary election in August. Neither has filed officially, as the filing period is May 15-30.

"I think that I will bring a renewed energy to the department, I think I will bring a set of fresh ideas, I think I will bring very strong leadership to the department, and I will work to see the needs of my staff and the citizens of Fremont County's law enforcement needs are met to the best of my ability," Stone.

Experience in law enforcement and government have prepared him for the sheriff's office, Stone said.

Stone, 53, started at RPD in 1990 as a patrol officer and retired as a captain in 2009.

"I was involved in the development of the officer training program that is currently in place, the evaluation process, hiring, discipline and oversight of all the day-to-day operations of the department," Stone said.

The Fremont County Sheriff's Office is an excellent department and has great personnel, Stone said. He does believe the agency has problems and hopes to address them as its head.

"I think the biggest challenge facing the sheriff's office is retention of staff in detention and dispatch, especially," he said. "I also think that the level of quality law enforcement training in the department is inadequate, and we need to establish better and more in-house training."

To address retention, he said would improve accountability in the department, which he said is lacking. R32;"People are held to a different set of standards depending on who they are, who their supervisors are," he said. "We need to make sure we treat everybody who works for the Fremont County Sheriff's Office the same."

Stone now owns a consulting and training company specializing in school and public entity safety, firearms training for law enforcement and the general public, and shooter-response training to police and school districts, Stone said. He also has taught criminal justice, homeland security, and environmental health and science classes at Central Wyoming College since 2001 and was an instructor at the rural justice training center from 2009 to 2012, he said.

Stone hopes to augment in-house training at the Sheriff's Office. He would have some officers receive further education and certified as trainers and send his staff to the rural justice training center.

He hopes to improve new-recruit training and that for homicide investigation, Stone said.

He serves on the Fremont County School District 25 Board of Trustees and was its chairman in 2013. He lives just outside of Riverton and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor's degree in geology,

Another goal Stone has for the Sheriff's Office is to give more opportunities for officers to move up through the ranks.

Most of the recent patrol division hires have been experienced officers from other agencies, he said, rather than from within Sheriff's Office. He would like more detention-center deputies to have the opportunity to move up to patrol-deputy positions.

"I think we still make it a competitive selection process, but we still need to make sure those detention deputies who want to be a patrol deputy get that opportunity," he said. "Many of them, their ultimate goal is to be a patrol deputy."

The fact that Skip Hornecker was elected three times to the Sheriff's Office "speaks volume for the job he's done," Stone said.

Stone is confident he can beat the incumbent, however.

"I plan on putting 110 percent into this effort, and I plan on being the next sheriff of Fremont County," he said.

Stone does not have definite plans for campaign events yet, but he plans to attend community forums about this year's election. He said he also wants to meet with law enforcement leaders in Fremont County and reach out to the public to gather its input.

"I want to know what we're doing good at the Fremont County Sheriff's Office and what we need to improve as well," he said.

The winner of the primary would run in the general election Nov. 4. No Democrats have announced plans to run.