Nye County brought in the new year by welcoming its new sheriff.
Sharon Wehrly took over as the county’s 29th sheriff at a Change of Command Ceremony in the County Commission chambers in Pahrump on Monday.
Wehrly takes over for Tony DeMeo who was ceremoniously relieved of his command after 12 years as Nye County’s chief law enforcement officer.
Following her pinning with the Nye County sheriff’s badge, Wehrly presented her plans for the office of the sheriff. Those plans include accreditation of the department along with a commitment to staff training.
In a symbolic show of a new chapter in the legacy of the department, Wehrley’s dress uniform was void of any agency patches or insignia.
“This is a symbol of a new beginning,” she said. “Symbolizing a fresh start with new ideas and a new commitment to serve and protect the people of Nye County from all threats, both foreign and domestic.”
Wehrly promised to be relentless in the fight against crime and as well as the incorporation of “innovative crime-fighting strategies.”
She promised leadership as well as a renewed sense of service to the community. “I will serve you as your sheriff as much as lead you as your sheriff,” she said. She said of the sheriff’s office, “We are your neighbors, your friends. We do not stand above you or below you, but shoulder to shoulder with you to build a safe place to live, raise our families and retire.”
With both levity and seriousness, she remarked that the Nye County Sheriff’s Office is one of the few professions “that still make house calls.”
Addressing dwindling fiscal resources, Wehrly said she would augment budget dollars with competent and professional volunteers.
She was realistic about the evolving nature of crime. “It is not our parents’ or grandparents’ world anymore,” she said. “New times teach new crimes.”
Following her address, Wehrly introduced her “second-in-command,” 36-year law enforcement and fire fighting veteran, Undersheriff Brent Moody.
In an interview following the ceremony, Moody revealed that though he is a certified police officer in Alaska and Minnesota, he is not certified in Nevada.
Wehrly said she has the option of appointing Moody as an administrator, which would not require his Nevada certification, but Moody has decided to complete the certification requirements at his own expense. He has one year to do so, she said.
The funding for the position of undersheriff is already available in the budget, Wehrly explained, through an unfilled lieutenant position in Beatty.
Moody said he will attend the necessary classes for certification on nights and weekends.
Wehrly said that the position of undersheriff had previously been funded along with that of four assistant sheriff positions. The former sheriff did not feel the need to have an undersheriff, Wehrly said. She, however, said she does not feel the same way.
At the beginning of the Nye County Commission’s board meeting, following the ceremony, newly appointed Commission Chair Lorinda Wichman pulled an agenda item which would have amended the county’s sales tax spending plan for payment of salary and benefits to Moody.
Wehrly also explained that the December commission decision to delay the purchase of a new vehicle for search and rescue efforts through the department was customary. Wehrley said she was led to understand that spending by an outgoing elected official typically stops Dec. 1.
“It wasn’t that they weren’t going to give them (the sheriff’s department) what they had requested,” she said.
“We are a team,” she said of Moody’s appointment. “As a team we will be successful. We will make this journey together.”
In his farewell address DeMeo thanked Nye County residents for the confidence they placed in him. He directed his attention to uniformed members of the sheriff’s office.
“I am proud of each and every one of you,” he said. “It has been a pleasure to serve with you.”
DeMeo reflected on the oath of office for police officers and concluded that police officers are empowered by God. “The badge does not empower you. The badge is only a symbol of our authority,” he said. Instead, he said, “This profession is a calling. I believe that only people who serve God were called.”
He told those gathered for the ceremony that Jesus outlined the police profession in the beatitudes.
“Our job is not in service of the people. It is in service of God,” he said. He continued, “Obey government. For God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those that refuse to obey the laws are refusing to obey God, and punishment will soon follow.”
He called on each of the deputies to give their loyalty to Wehrly.
Wehrly presented DeMeo with a certificate of appreciation for exemplary meritorious service noting his immeasurable contributions to the department, including: his support of the Nye County search and rescue program; reserve deputy program; weapons and tactics team; sheriff’s auxiliary unit; training academy; cadet program and the completion of the southern Nye County Detention Center.
Wehrly is the county’s 29th sheriff since its incorporation in 1864. She is the second woman to hold the office following Joni Wines who held the post from 1977 through 1980.