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Challenger seeks to 'restore' reputation of sheriff's office

Staff writer

Seeking to “restore” the reputation of the sheriff’s office, Peabody Police Chief Travis Wilson filed Monday for election as county sheriff.

The Aug. 11 raid of the Marion County Record tarnished the reputation of the sheriff’s office worldwide, Wilson said. That’s not the way he wants things to be.

Wilson began his career in law enforcement with the Peabody police department in 2005. Three years later, he went to the sheriff’s office.

He left the sheriff’s office Nov. 15, 2022, and went to work for Arlie’s Collision Specialists in Marion.

Four months later, he became Peabody’s police chief.

He reconstructed the department from the ground up and, without increasing the budget, was able to add a fourth full-time officer and an animal control/health and safety officer, Wilson said.

“I enjoyed the sheriff’s office,” Wilson said. “I hope to bring the sheriff’s office back to a trusted and respected office.”

He also wants the department to be more of a presence in the county’s smaller towns, like Burns, Florence, Lincolnville, and Ramona, at times other than when there is a crisis.

“I want to see the sheriff’s office regarded in a good light,” he said.

When he worked for the sheriff’s office, he loved driving to Tampa or Lincolnville and interacting with the people.

When he visits Peabody schools, he tells the children to call him “Travis.”

“Our children in the county are our county’s future,” Wilson said. “They can’t be scared of us.”

He wants the sheriff’s office to go back to that.

“I want the department to become nationally known for the right reasons,” he said.

He also wants to see police departments of cities that have them held to a standard.

When he works with people in Peabody, he asks how he can make the situation better. Even when he has to arrest someone, he shakes their hand before he walks away.

“There are a lot of people who, when they have an encounter with a law enforcement officer, it can change their lives,” Wilson said.

Fighting people just doesn’t make things better, he said.

“It’s the people who you help that change their lives,” he said. “You help them at the worst part of their lives.”

The best moments of his career have been when he changed someone’s life and helped them.

“I always try to give the utmost compassion and respect to everyone I deal with,” Wilson said.

Asked to comment on Wilson’s filing, incumbent Jeff Soyez contended his department “has a great image and trust” in the community. The office is committed to the community, transparency, and coordination with neighboring agencies and departments, Soyez said.

Last modified April 11, 2024

 

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