PAYETTE COUNTY - The times are a-changing, and with them comes a changing of the guard for Payette County, as present Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Creech prepares to take over for Chad Huff as the county’s 12th Sheriff. As he prepares to take office, the newspaper reached out to Creech by email to learn about his aims as he takes the reins of the county’s top law enforcement agency.
Following are his responses, as received on Thursday, Nov. 5.
IE: Why did you seek to become Sheriff?
Creech: I moved to Payette County 23 years ago when the City of New Plymouth hired me to be a patrol officer for the New Plymouth Police Department. My wife and I have lived in Payette County and raised our family here. We have made many friendships throughout the local communities since we have moved here.
I have enjoyed opportunities to help the Payette County Sheriff’s Office serve our community better throughout my career. The Payette County Sheriff’s Office and Payette County citizens have given me opportunities to advance in my career and obtain training to provide better services to our county. I decided to seek the office of Sheriff so that I can continue to serve our citizens and make Payette County continue to be a safe place to live and raise a family by using the training and experiences that have been given to me.
IE: What made you decide to pursue a career in law enforcement?
Creech: I grew up in a law enforcement family. My Father, Alan Creech, worked for the Nampa Police Department and was the Chief of Police at the time of his death. At a very young age, I decided that I wanted to go into law enforcement and use it as an opportunity to help people. After graduating high school, I went to the College of Southern Idaho to study Law Enforcement as well as Business Administration. Throughout the last 23 years of serving the citizens of Payette County, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work together to make our community a safe place to live.
IE: Why specifically did you come to serve Payette County?
Creech: After graduating from college, I began looking for law enforcement jobs in the Treasure Valley. The City of New Plymouth offered me a patrol officer position. After working there for two years, Sheriff Barowsky hired me as a patrol deputy.
IE: Previously, you mentioned that reducing department turnover was a goal of yours. How do you intend to improve staff retention?
Creech: Three main areas affect law enforcement’s turnover rates – competitive wages, competitive benefits and job satisfaction. I plan to work with the Payette County Board of County Commissioners and the Payette County Sheriff’s Office employees to address these issues to make the Payette County Sheriff’s Office the law enforcement employer of choice in our area.
Staff turnover directly affects the citizens of Payette County. It is costly to hire and train new deputies continually. The Payette County Sheriff’s Office has been in a constant hiring state for the last several years. This has reduced staff and reduced the number of experienced deputies to adequately handle the ever-increasing calls for service that the Payette County Sheriff’s Office has. It is my goal to increase our quality of service that the Payette County Sheriff’s Office provides to our citizens by increasing our staff retention.
IE: You mentioned that the department is in a transitional phase. How are you managing this transition?
Creech: Sheriff Chad Huff started preparing the department for his retirement by transitioning his duties to the Administrative staff. Over the last year, I have also begun transitioning my duties to other administrators. I have been working with Sheriff Huff over the last couple of years to facilitate a smooth transition as he retires at the end of this year.
IE: What are some deficiencies in county-level enforcement you aim to improve?
Creech: My goal is to hire staff to fill our open positions in the patrol, jail, and dispatch divisions. Bringing these divisions to full staff will increase the level of service that we can provide to Payette County citizens.
IE: How do you aim to improve communication within the department and in the community?
Creech: Community involvement is important to me. I take as many opportunities as possible to speak with local businesses at the chamber of commerce meetings. I have also been a guest speaker at numerous local community groups and our schools.
Over the last several years, I have also developed positive relationships with our local media to help them keep our citizens informed about things that matter most to our citizens. I plan to continue meeting with our citizens so that they have an opportunity to ask questions and obtain answers about the Payette County Sheriff’s Office and the services that we provide.
Communications within the Payette County Sheriff’s Office are vital to the office’s overall functioning as well. I have already begun by meeting with all of our current staff members and allowing them to ask questions and talk directly with me.
I have also given our current staff the ability to provide anonymous input directly to me about the Payette County Sheriff’s Office. In addition to these things, the Payette County Sheriff’s Office divisions meet periodically throughout the year. I will attend each of these meetings to contribute to the communication throughout the Payette County Sheriff’s Office.
IE: What is your message to the public as you prepare for Jan. 11?
Creech: I am truly appreciative and humbled by the support of my family, friends, and the community. I am honored to have been elected as Payette County’s twelfth Sheriff. I will serve with honesty and the highest integrity for the department and Payette County citizens. I will continue to improve the Payette County Sheriff’s Office and the services that it can provide to benefit our citizens. Over the next nine weeks, Sheriff Huff and I will continue to work together to ensure a smooth transition as he prepares to retire, and I prepare to lead Payette County as Sheriff.