Experience abounds in sheriff/coroner race: Rick Vaughn: a duty to serve

News-Argus Managing Editor
Friday, September 28, 2018

Rick Vaughn



Undersheriff Rick Vaughn sees running for sheriff as a means of giving back to the Central Montana community.

“It’s my duty,” he said. “Based on my qualifications and my love of Central Montana, it’s something I have to do.”

Vaughn points with pride to his experience and training, things he says make him the best fit for the job.

“I was first appointed as undersheriff in 2002, and I’ve since served as undersheriff under three different sheriffs. By law they can appoint anyone they want, and they chose me. With the position I am responsible for the day to day operations of the department, acting as the sheriff when the sheriff is absent.”

Vaughn said his 17 years as undersheriff are a record for Fergus County.

“The next closest one had 15 years,” he said.

Training is also something Vaughn believes in. His own is extensive, starting with a degree in law enforcement.

“I have over 1,400 hours of law enforcement training,” he said. 

“I’ve been to two academies. I’ve received the maximum Peace Officer Standard Training certificates you can get, which is six, including the administrative one. Not many people have that one. I went to the FBI Command College. In my terms on the board of the Montana Sheriff and Peace Officer Association I have worked on laws and regulations, lobbied the legislature and learned from officers from across the state. What I learn, I bring back and put into practice in our office.”

All that training, Vaughn said, will help him if he is elected to the job of sheriff, especially when it comes to addressing what he sees as Fergus County’s most serious law enforcement issue: drugs and their impacts.

“We’re at crisis levels with substance abuse, which taxes the whole system,” Vaughn said. “Most of the people we have in detention are there due to a drug or substance abuse related issue. Jailing them is not cost effective. What we need is better anti-drug education, starting as young as fifth grade. It really takes a whole community concentrating on awareness and education. I’m excited to work with everyone to get that done.”

Another priority Vaughn hopes to address is creating a better Sheriff’s Department presence in the rural communities of Fergus County.

“I want to change the way we handle the outlying areas,” Vaughn said. “I’d like to assign officers to specific communities, where they would be part of the schools and community events. The officers would learn the way the community functions and the community would get to know the officers on a personal level.”

Vaughn said he feels the Fergus County Sheriff’s department personnel get along well with their counterparts at other law enforcement agencies.

“Those that are on patrol must work together, and they do. At the administrative level, we may not always see eye-to-eye, but we respect each other. When there’s a job to be done and we need to work together, I think we do it very well. At the end of the day, we may not always agree but we get the job done.”

As of Jan. 1, the job of Fergus County Sheriff is enlarged to include also being the Fergus County Coroner, a combined position. Vaughn said he is more than ready for the change.

“I’ve gone to coroner basic training and I’m certified as an advanced investigator for deaths,” he said. “I’ve also gone on investigations done by the current coroner. I’m ready to make a professional transition from sheriff to sheriff/coroner.”

Vaughn said, if elected, he plans to work with the local funeral homes and crematorium to provide services and equipment the Sheriff’s department lacks.

“We need to work together as we are dealing with peoples’ loved ones,” Vaughn said. “We don’t have chiller space or an exam room at the Sheriff’s building. I’ve spoken with the funeral homes and they are ready to help out. I’m willing to do what’s best for the community.”



Where is your favorite place to go camping in Central Montana?