Benton County Sheriff Faces Challenger In August Primary


Andrew Breshears filed to run for the office of Benton County Sheriff on March 25. He will be challenging incumbent Sheriff Ray Knox who is seeking his third term in office. Since both candidates are Republicans, they will know the results of their race on Primary Election Day, August 6. Both candidates were given a questionnaire to fill out and were also asked to give a short summary of their backgrounds. Results of the questionnaire are stated and followed by the candidate’s answers.

Sheriff Knox was born in California, but moved to Texas when he was three days old. He and his family lived in the state until he was four years old when they moved back to Missouri where the family originally lived. Sheriff Knox spent kindergarten through 12th grade in Cole Camp Schools and held a few jobs before spending four years in the U.S. Navy. He said that he did everything from trash truck driving to being a machinist, and then went into construction where he remodeled and built houses. However, his passion was law enforcement, and he used the revenue from his construction career to put himself through P.O.S.T. (Peace Officer’s Standards and Training) Academy. He worked full time in construction during the day, and had a full night-time job at the sheriff’s office before running for sheriff.

1) Why are you the person to be Sheriff of Benton County? I am a Patriot, and I am and will always be Constitutional. I am a United States Navy veteran who served my country during war time, and I chose to continue my life of servitude as sheriff. I have a proven record of success. Through my leadership and perseverance, we were able to bring a new jail facility to Benton County creating 26 new jobs and bringing in over $2,000,000 in revenue into the county through leasing bed space to Federal inmates.

2) What do you plan to accomplish in your first 30 days? 90 days if elected to a new term? Within the first 30 days of my office, I was actively campaigning for school resource officers to be stationed within schools. I also worked with a variety of groups and individuals to raise funds for bullet resistant vests for the deputies, something they had lacked prior to my first term. Within the first 90 days I was already actively planning for a new jail facility. Two of my third term goals are to build an animal shelter attached to the jail for law enforcement use. I also have plans to start a citizen’s academy, in this we would like to train groups of citizens and introduce them to some of the things that we deal with on a regular basis. The citizens academy would also include firearms training and training on the Missouri State Statutes and crime prevention.

3) What kind of leadership do you bring to the office? I feel that I am a strong leader who can lead without micromanaging my staff. I believe in surrounding myself with fantastic, intelligent, hardworking people, then utilizing those strengths to help me make decisions which are best for the office, which equals best for our community. At the end of the day, I have no problem making hard decisions and standing behind them.

4) What is the number one thing you think needs to be changed at the sheriff’s office and how would you change it if re-elected? The budget and budget constraints! We struggle daily with trying to find funds to effectively run and maintain a professional agency. There is a nationwide crisis involving a shortage of law enforcement officers. The agencies that are blessed with a full roster can pay more and offer their employees LAGERS, the premier retirement system for government agencies which focuses on employee longevity and performance. The economy has no effect on this retirement system and allows law enforcement to retire at age 55. The fix is bringing awareness to the people, working with the county commission and finding new ways to bring income into the community without the burden of raising taxes. I have several ideas that I have presented to the county government.

5) How do you plan to address staff morale and retention in the sheriff’s office if re-elected? Morale within the office has never been higher! Even with not being able to pay as much as other counties and the lack of LAGERS, we have been able to slowly add to our ranks. We are on pace to be fully staffed by summer with some amazing people. To these people, money is not the driving force. They were looking for a home within our community because we are very fortunate to have a community who supports their law enforcement! Couple that with a Constitutional sheriff who is not afraid to mix it up for his community and on their behalf. You need a strong sheriff to stand up for your rights! I am a fighter, and I don’t apologize for it, I have fought for your rights with Covid regulations and gun control. I have fought within the state government at the Capital to defend your constitutional rights and I continue to fight the Federal Government and their overreach. I will continue to do so if I am your sheriff.

6) How will you approach budget cuts or financial constraints in the office going forward? I will stand against any budget cuts, our community deserves a well-paid, well trained, and professional sheriff’s office. The community, early on, saw a need to help with funding and additional gear that was not allowed for in the budget. The Friends of the Benton County Sheriff was born. This group works closely with the sheriff’s office and has been instrumental in helping to fund the original bullet resistant vest program, our drone program, K9 program, benevolent program and now our MILO program. (Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives). MILO is a state-of-the-art shooting simulator that will allow law enforcement and, in the future, citizens the ability to train with firearms in real world situations, virtually. In addition to the Friends of the BCSO, we apply for every grant available to us, bringing in thousands of dollars for gear and training. If we should find ourselves short on funding or in need of additional funding, I will always reach out to the people and inform them of what is going on and what is needed. The office of sheriff belongs to the people.

7) What will you do to improve transparency from the sheriff’s office? In my opinion this is the most transparent sheriff's office this county has ever had. One of my first priorities when I took office was to open the lines of communication between the citizens of Benton County and its sheriff’s office. I instituted a website for the office so citizens can see the office’s information and who is currently housed in the county jail. I started a Facebook page to better reach the citizens of Benton County and currently have a following of over 14,000. I regularly share my thoughts and keep followers informed on current situations. I also share articles in the Benton County Enterprise, the Lincoln New Era, and the Cole Camp Courier to keep citizens updated on the Sheriff’s Office activities.

8) What strategies have you implemented to tackle drug related crimes? In my estimate, drug related crimes make up over 70% of the crime here in Benton County in one form or other. We work closely with the Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force who operates within our borders in an undercover capacity. Early on as sheriff, I helped neighborhoods start my version of neighborhood watches, there is power in numbers! When neighborhoods take a stand and get involved, all crime goes down. Drugs are not just a law enforcement problem, its everyone’s problem.

9) What strategies have you taken, and will you take to protect the vulnerable in Benton County? I’ve implemented neighborhood watch groups, neighbors helping neighbors and more patrolling as the office continues to gain quality personnel. We have strong partners within the division of aging and division of family services. We have and will continue to deal strongly with those who commit crimes against our very young and our more mature citizens.

10) Finally, how do you plan to address the increase of cybercrime? Since my time in the office, I have added a detective’s division who can concentrate on all crimes to include cybercrime. We are also a member of a cybercrimes task force whose sole existence is to track down and deal with crimes relating to the internet.

Andrew Breshears was raised in Southern Benton County, Edwards, and helped run the family farm while attending Warsaw High School. He was a leader and mentor in school sports and other school activities and graduated in 2005. He then helped manage the day-to-day operations of the family construction business for many years. In 2012 he decided to follow his passion of helping and serving the community and joined the police academy in Warrensburg, graduating at the end of that year. He then went to work at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office where he had the joy of serving Benton County while raising a family. He has taken pride in upholding a high level of respect, integrity, and dedication to the citizens of the county, and in being active with youth sports in hopes of building a strong future of leaders and active members of the community for the future.

1) Why are you the best person to be Sheriff of Benton County? I believe I would benefit Benton County due to having a wide range of knowledge of the county and the citizens who live within Benton County. I will make it a priority to protect and uphold the rights of the citizens of Benton County. I take pride in being involved in the community and lending positive leadership and guidance to not only the office but the citizens alike. As a father in this community, I understand how important it is for our organization to get more involved in the schools and community. After all they are the future of our country. A good sheriff must be able to maintain composure in stressful situations and having 10 plus years working for the sheriff’s office I know this is a quality I possess.

2) What do you plan to accomplish in your first 30 days? 90 days? In the first 30 days, I would work to reinstate relationships with other agencies within the county. After all we need to work together as a team to make Benton County strong and a safe place to live and raise a family. The Sheriff’s Office cannot do it alone, it takes a community. This will be achieved by communicating and setting a foundation and goals with all agencies and the county commission and working as one for the best interest of the community. In those 90 days, I would work to have more community involvement. The Sheriff’s Office cannot be effective in protecting and serving the community if it does not have the trust and respect of the people we serve.

3) What kind of leadership will you bring to the Sheriff’s Office? I will bring strong positive leadership to the office, leading by example and being involved in the everyday workings of the office. A leader needs to be present not only in the office but also in the field and willing to lend a hand when guidance is needed. I feel my vast range of experience and knowledge will be beneficial in guiding the office in quality service to the community.

4) What do you think is the number one thing that needs to be changed at the Sheriff’s office and how would you change it? The number one change I see within the Sheriff’s Office is positive leadership and relationships with the community and other local agencies. I will make it a priority to restore these relationships and uphold a higher standard of service to the community. In return it will help bring willing and qualified deputies wanting to work for Benton County.

5) What steps will you take to ensure privacy and the rights of citizens are respected? I will stand with the people of the community to protect and uphold the constitution. The constitution and our rights are dear to my heart and protecting those rights is priority in these times.

6) How do you plan to address morale and retention in the Sheriff’s Office? I strive to have the trust and respect of the deputies and staff which is earned by listening and considering opinions and ideas. I believe the job is rewarding when there is positive involvement and feedback. This is achieved by giving positive leadership and guidance. The low staffing issue can be restored when the Office personnel feel appreciated and trusted by its leadership and the community.

7) How will you approach budget cuts or financial constraints in the department? The Sheriff’s Office will work tirelessly with the commission to ensure the best use of taxpayers spending. The budget should reflect the community's best interest and how it will benefit the citizens of Benton County.

8) What will you do to improve transparency from the Sheriff’s Department? The Sheriff’s Office will work to keep the public informed in a timely manner, through social media and face to face interaction as I believe interacting with the citizens is paramount.

9) What strategies will you implement to tackle drug related crime? I believe high visibility and patrol are key to curbing drug related crimes. I also plan to have a strong working relationship with our local drug taskforce. It is also important to provide offenders with resources and avenues to make change rather than just releasing them back to the community with no guidance.

10) What strategies will you take to protect the vulnerable in Benton County? I plan to get back full staff to ensure more patrols in the rural areas of the county. A presence in the rural areas of the county will not only deter crime but help ensure the community the Sheriff’s Office will be there in their time of need or concern. The Sheriff’s office is responsible for providing assistance to the community beyond patrol and responding to calls for service. The Sheriff’s Office will also strive to provide further resources to ensure the safety and knowledge of the citizens of Benton County.

11) Finally, how do you plan to address the increase of cyber-crime? I plan to be involved and partner with locale awareness groups and build a working relationship with the local cyber task force team, to spread awareness and knowledge to the community and younger generation on the risk and dangers of the internet and social media.