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November 7, 2012

Easter wins race for Sedgwick County sheriff

As expected, Wichita police Capt. Jeff Easter won a commanding victory in the Sedgwick County sheriff’s race.

As expected, Wichita police Capt. Jeff Easter won a commanding victory in the Sedgwick County sheriff’s race.

“I think the voters are ready for a change, and I’m very excited about being the person they have selected to be their sheriff,” Easter said.

Easter, a 44-year-old Republican, will retire from the Police Department later this month.

As he waited on election returns Tuesday night, he gathered with family, friends and campaign workers at his campaign manager’s house. It was a low-key gathering, Easter said, because “I’m done with the political process. I’m ready to get to work.”

An Easter victory became pretty much a sure thing after the Democratic candidate, Jefrey Weinman, didn’t actively campaign. Easter won the August primary by a 3-1 ratio over Sheriff Robert Hinshaw.

Weinman, a retired Wichita police officer who didn’t have the name recognition and management experience that Easter has, said God told him to run for sheriff.

Easter has extensive experience in community and gang policing and has commanded the Patrol North bureau for four years. Easter also had plenty of high-profile endorsements.

The hard-fought primary race was dominated by issues revolving around the jail, particularly controversy over the Sheriff’s Office’s handling of a jail deputy charged with sex crimes against inmates.

In an interview last month, Easter said he would likely change the organizational structure so that the major in charge of the jail would report directly to the sheriff instead of the undersheriff.

Another change he said he might consider is raising the minimum age for new jail deputies from 18 to 21.

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