Serving
Mohave County
July 2024
Volume 24 Issue 5
COMPLIMENTARY

Jul 2024 | Journal, July 2024 | 0 comments

Mohave County Sheriff candidates present contrasting visions for department’s future

Journal, July 2024 | 0 comments

July 2024

MOHAVE COUNTY — The 2024 Mohave County Sheriff election pits incumbent Doug Schuster against challenger Mike Gannuscio, with both candidates offering distinct approaches to law enforcement leadership, budget management, and community engagement.
Schuster, seeking his third term as sheriff, brings over 34 years of experience with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. Gannuscio, a former deputy with six years of service and two years as a reserve officer, now works in the private sector and is making his second bid for the position after running in 2020.
A key issue in the campaign is the implementation of body cameras for deputies. Gannuscio has made this a central promise of his campaign, stating, “The first thing I will do is purchase and put body cams on all deputies and officers.” He argues that this measure is crucial for protecting both officers and citizens.
Schuster, while not directly addressing the body camera issue in recent statements, has focused on technological advancements in other areas. He recently introduced the Mutualink program in local schools, aimed at enhancing safety through real-time communication between schools and law enforcement during emergencies.
Budget management and resource allocation have emerged as points of contention. Gannuscio has criticized what he sees as mismanagement of funds, citing the purchase of a $300,000 airplane as an example of unnecessary spending. “I just don’t understand the reasoning behind the purchase,” Gannuscio said, “especially when none of the department officers have body cams and we have contracts in place to handle the things that served as the reasoning (Schuster) has given for the purchase.”
Schuster defends his budgetary decisions, pointing to a 20% increase in patrol staff since taking office and his ability to justify budget needs to the county Board of Supervisors. “We have and continue to prioritize our needs to ensure we have appropriate levels of staffing and equipment to serve our citizens at a high level,” Schuster states.
The candidates also differ in their approach to community engagement. Gannuscio advocates for Citizen Action Teams and regular community visits to address local concerns. “Communication is the key to anything between law enforcement and the public,” he emphasizes.
Schuster highlights his office’s existing practices of transparency, including regular media releases on daily activities. He states, “There is nothing that the Sheriff’s Office does that should be hidden from the public.”
Both candidates acknowledge challenges in recruitment and retention, reflecting a national trend in law enforcement. Gannuscio proposes new programs to boost morale and attract better-trained candidates, while Schuster remains optimistic about current staffing levels despite the challenges.
The handling of high-profile cases has also become a campaign issue. Some residents have expressed frustration with the Sheriff’s Office’s handling of the McFalls murder case, which remains unsolved. While Gannuscio has not commented directly on the specifics of the case, he has promised that under his leadership, such cases “would never go cold.”
A recent debate incident sparked discussion when Schuster missed the event due to reported food poisoning. This led to criticism and speculation about avoiding accountability, particularly regarding the McFalls case. Gannuscio used this opportunity to address voters directly on his key campaign issues.
The election is scheduled for November 5, 2024. Registered voters in Mohave County are eligible to participate. Early voting will begin on October 9, 2024, and mail-in ballots will be sent out starting October 2, 2024.
Schuster’s campaign emphasizes his experience and record of departmental growth. He points to initiatives like the Mutualink program as evidence of his commitment to leveraging technology for public safety without additional local taxpayer expense.
Gannuscio’s campaign focuses on reform and increased transparency. He promises to implement body cameras, improve response times, and enhance community engagement through regular visits and the formation of Citizen Action Teams.
Both candidates stress the importance of training, though their approaches differ. Gannuscio plans to seek grants and state funding to enhance training beyond minimum requirements, while Schuster highlights the existing robust training program, which includes both mandatory and advanced courses led by in-house instructors.
As the election approaches, voters are encouraged to research both candidates thoroughly and consider how each candidate’s vision aligns with their expectations for the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. The outcome of this election will significantly influence the direction of law enforcement in the county for the next four years.
For more information on voting locations and procedures, residents can contact the Mohave County Elections Department or visit their website at www.mohavecounty.us/elections.
— Jeremy Webb

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