Having a positive attitude isn’t always something you find in law enforcement. Madison County Sheriff Rick Henry has one that shines.
He has been in law enforcement for 28 years. He said he never thought about going into law enforcement growing up. When he returned from serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he went on a ride-along with an officer. That evening changed his life forever.
Now he has been the Sheriff of Madison County since 2016.
“I’ve been in office for two years and during those two years I was able to hit every topic and every item that was on my platform,” he told BYU-Idaho Radio.
The items on his platform included building relationships and working with schools. He now has his officers stop by a school anytime they drive by, among other things.
“We’ve seen a renewed sense of teamwork and comradery within our agency, but we’ve also seen that teamwork and comradery expand out now,” Sheriff Henry said.
He said they have built great relationships with the Rexburg Police Department, Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho State Police. That allows them to work together smoothly almost anywhere in East Idaho.
The sheriff’s office has also been able to get involved heavily in the community. Deputies attend safety meetings, they’ve partnered with Madison Heroes on an anti-bullying campaign, they’ve helped with D.A.R.E., Celebrate Youth and many other campaigns.
Sheriff Henry addressed the fact that across the nation law enforcement are often shown in a negative light by the media. He said those officers represent less than half of a percent of one percent of all the officers in the work force. There are many others who serve honorably every single day despite the hardships of the job.
“It takes a different person to do this job because it’s not a lot of pay but the gratification comes when you change somebody’s life,” Sheriff Henry said. “Our vision statement is simply this, we want our people in this community to understand that our officers are going to serve with courage, which they do, they lace up their boots everyday. And we want them to lead with compassion. And that is the key right there for a community and for a culture to change is compassion.”
He believes so strongly in this that he put that into the Madison County Sheriff’s Office mission statement and on their challenge coins which deputies can earn through their service.
He also focuses on teaching leadership. He wants to encourage an atmosphere of sharing and learning so everyone can benefit from each other’s knowledge. One of his favorite quotes is from Nelson Mandela, “It is better to lead from behind and put others out in front, especially during times of victory.”
Sheriff Henry is not one to seek the lime-light. He prefers to have the light shine on his hard-working officers.
I get criticized all the time, ‘I don’t ever see you in the news’ or ‘I don’t see you.’ And I’m like, that’s not who I am, number one. But we are doing amazing things and it’s not Rick Henry doing amazing things, it’s the people who are currently working at the Sheriff’s Office,” he said.
Everyone is human and wants to be liked. It can wear on law enforcement when they constantly have to be the Debbie downer or the fun spoiler. The way a community treats their officers can have a huge impact on their morale.
“We’re lucky because we have a community that supports us like no other,” Sheriff Henry said. He encourages people to keep doing what they’re doing because they need and appreciate it. It only strengthens their resolve to serve the community to the best of their ability.