KANSAS CITY, Kan. — On Monday, for the first time since 2009, Wyandotte County will have a new sheriff.
FOX4 sat down with Sheriff-elect Daniel Soptic about his goals and the challenges facing him as he takes office.
“It’s good to be done with the election and moving on to getting down to business,” Soptic said.
Current Sheriff Don Ash, who has held the office for 12 years, is retiring.
Soptic is a lieutenant colonel with the department. Eighteen years ago, he started out as a park ranger before they merged with the sheriff’s office in 2009.
Soptic said his biggest challenge as he takes over is something we’ve seen become a law enforcement problem nationwide.
“Short-term, we have to increase our hiring and our retention,” Soptic said. “We are very short at the moment, staff-wise. And that’s sworn and civilian, so deputy and our civilian staff.”
Soptic said 35 more deputies, total, are needed for patrol and in the jail to go along with 20 more civilian employees.
Soptic said once he has the staffing, he plans to start a community engagement unit to forge better relationships with the public and increase transparency.
The image of law enforcement today isn’t lost on Soptic following cases like the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Cameron Lamb in Kansas City, Missouri.
“We go out and we reassure the community that’s not us,” Soptic said. “That’s not us as a whole. That’s not our profession as a whole. And what you’re seeing is a few bad apples that at the end of the day law enforcement wants them gone and wants them dealt with, whatever that may be, more than anybody else even. We don’t want them representing us.”
As Soptic comes in, detectives have been investigating some recent high-profile cases. In late October, for example, a deputy hit someone responding to a call. That person later died.
Last week, 7-year-old Cariya Reed was shot and killed in an apparent murder-suicide.
“It was about as bad as it gets,” Soptic said.
Cariya’s mom and 3-year-old brother remain in the hospital.
“At the moment, there’s no outstanding suspects,” Soptic said. “That was just a horrible incident.”
Soptic said it appears to be a domestic situation, but beyond that, said both cases remain under investigation. He expects more to be released later.
Soptic will be sworn in Monday at 5 p.m. at Memorial Hall in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.