By Matt Youngfrau
SULLIVAN COUNTY October 30, 2001 Four years ago, then-Undersheriff Dan Hogue and Town of Fallsburg Police Chief Brent Lawrence squared off for Sheriff Joe Wassers seat. In a close race, Hogue was elected by county voters.
Today, Hogue is again running, now for reelection. This time, his opponent is . . . Fallsburg Police Chief Brent Lawrence. Both still want the job, and both shared their concerns and goals in recent interviews.
"I see being Sheriff as a challenge," Lawrence remarked. "It would be a step up. I have accomplished a lot in Fallsburg. I want to extend that countywide."
"Being Sheriff is a big responsibility, but I accept it and take it any time," commented Hogue. "As the county grows, the infrastructure will grow. The Sheriff's Department will be a big part of it. The goal is to keep Sullivan County safe, and we will grow with the growth."
Both men have many similarities. Both have lived in the county the majority, if not all, of their lives. Both have extensive experience as police officers. Both say they are loyal and proud family men.
A Look at Hogue, a Democrat
Hogue came to Monticello in 1950. After graduating from Monticello High School in 1957, he joined the Army. When he returned from Germany in 1959, he married his high school sweetheart, Millie Avery (the two have been married 41 years and have one son, Dan, and two grandchildren, Jenna and Dan III).
In 1961, Hogue started his long and illustrious police career as a patrolman for the Monticello Police Department. (Hogue has the distinction of being the last motorcycle cop and the first detective in Monticello PD history.) During his tenure, he investigated numerous homicides and drug, rape, and child abuse cases. He retired from the Monticello Police Department in 1986.
In 1986, Hogue became Undersheriff for Wasser. After working for Wasser for 12 years, Hogue stepped into the Sheriff's role and has accomplished a great deal in his near four years as Sheriff. Hogue helped turn the patrol office into a state-of-the-art police station. He started the Triad Program for senior citizens (which alerts them to telemarketing and construction scams) and was one of the founders of the Family Violence Response Team (which investigates child abuse and is a joint effort between the Sheriff, State Police, the District Attorney, and the Department of Health and Family Services). The department has also opened two new substations in the towns of Mamakating and Rockland.
In the Jail Division, the Jail has received a 100 percent rating for three years in a row. Over 1,000 miles of county roads were cleaned by inmates from May to October, and funds to run the jail come from items the prisoners order through the Commissary. There is also a contract with AT&T for the prisoners to make collect calls, and revenue from that comes back to the jail. And Hogue secured $1M for the county by housing prisoners during times when the jails were overcrowded.
The Civil Division was moved from the Government Center to the same building as the other departments. Hogue added an officer and brought in a new computer system. The Chief Civil Officer, Paul Trust, is constantly asked to set up other police systems, he said.
"Being Sheriff is different than running a police department," Hogue stated. "I will continue to go forward with the department. We are at a level where we can build and continue building. We are the lead police agency in the county."
"Danny is accessible and has been doing a great job," Sullivan County Democratic Chair Bob Krutman said. "He has saved the county a good deal of money. He is a good guy doing an outstanding job."
A Look at Lawrence, a Republican
Brent Lawrence is a lifelong resident of the county. He graduated from Tri-Valley High School and obtained a BS degree in Police Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Lawrence is an FBI-certified instructor and trained administrator, a DCJS academy trained supervisor, and attended many executive development seminars. He is a New York State-certified accident reconstruction technician, Datamaster operator, and radar operator. Lawrence also taught a course at Sullivan County Community College called "Policing in America."
Lawrence is married to Lisa and has a daughter, Ashley, and step-son, Robert. He has two adult daughters, Paige and Leigh. He has five grandchildren: Jonathan, Kyle, Dalton, Matthew, and Courtney.
Lawrence started as an officer on the Fallsburg Police Department in 1973. He was named sergeant in 1980 and promoted to lieutenant in 1989. In 1994, Lawrence was named Fallsburg Police Chief. In his tenure as chief, Lawrence has accomplished a great deal.
He was the first in the county to create a School Resource Officer position and one of the first area chiefs to install video cameras in patrol cars. Lawrence has been instrumental in forming a K-9 unit, which will be ready at the end of October. All these innovations were a result of money seized during drug busts, along with donations.
If Lawrence gets elected Sheriff, he said he has many plans for the job, like making sure the Sheriff's Department is the lead agency in Sullivan County. He feels people view the State Police as the lead agency, and he wants to change that.
Lawrence would also like to set up a training facility for all local police agencies. Currently, officers have to be sent out of county to such places as Kingston, Rockland County, and Buffalo. Lawrence would like to establish a mutual aid program with other agencies.
Lawrence would also like to explore ways to build a new jail. He feels it will be needed when economic development such as gambling comes into the area. Lawrence expects more people to relocate here due to the September 11 tragedy, and he predicts the area will become a bedroom community based upon his own extensive research.
"There are lots of good men in the department," commented Lawrence. "[But] things have been stagnant in the department. To fly, you have to let them spread their wings. It will be nice to see talented people come forward. Everybody will be involved and make some contribution."
"Brent has a lot of experience," Sullivan County Republican Party Chair Greg Goldstein said. "He will do a fine job. He has some new ideas. The next few years will be a critical time. It will be an interesting few years."
The Sheriff's election takes place with all the other races on Tuesday, November 6. Polls will be open until 8 p.m.