Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

Current Undersheriff, Deputy Sheriff running for Sheriff's spot


Jerry Lytle

On Tuesday, June 5, the primary election will be held in Montana. In Phillips County, there are two Republican candidates running for the Phillips County Sheriff and Coroner nomination to the November ballot. The sheriff position is currently held by Scott Moran who is retiring from service after 20-years in law enforcement. The challengers in the Republican sheriff's primary are Phillips County Undersheriff Burt Peigneux and Deputy Jerry Lytle.

What follows are the same four questions posed to each candidate, answered in their own words, edited only for typos and style, and listed alphabetically by last name. There are no Democratic candidates on the primary ballot.

NAME: Jerry Lytle

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Jerry Lytle and I was born and raised in Circle, Mont.,. I am the fifth and last child to Barbara and Howard Lytle. My mother worked for 28 years with the Circle School system as the administrative assistant to the Superintendent and my father worked for 33 years with the post office in Circle. My siblings are scattered between Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Texas. I played little league baseball and participated in cub scouts and then boy scouts. After graduating from high school, I attended Dawson Community College and graduated with an Associate of Arts in Criminology and an Associates of Applied Science in Law Enforcement. I returned to Circle and worked for several years as a dispatcher and part-time police officer for the Circle Police Department. I then joined my brother Roger in over-the-road truck driving and I did that for 10 years before coming to Malta to be a Deputy Sheriff. I've enjoyed living in Malta and have been an avid fisherman and golfer.

What is your motivation for running for office?

I have a differing opinion of how the Sheriff's Office should be run and I think that we can do more for the citizens of Phillips County than we are right now. I know there are some people who never see a Sheriffs' patrol vehicle and I want to change that. I believe everyone deserves fair and equal coverage and treatment by the Sheriff's Office. I want to make the people of Phillips County proud of their Sheriff's office.

What issues concern you in the position you are running for?

The issues that concern me are: I want to work more closely with the City Council of Malta as that's where a majority of our calls are; I want to take action in regards to the increase in illegal drug activity in our county; I plan on having more patrolling throughout the county at night; and I plan on extending our coverage by the deputies to 24-hours a day. There will be other issues that come up through the years but I feel confident that I will be able to handle them as they occur. The Keystone pipeline will be coming through northern Phillips County and will bring potential problems with the influx of workers as well as possible protestors. Important decisions will have to be made as to how to best deploy resources to handle the problems that will come. I would also like to strengthen the relationship between the Sheriff's Office and U.S. Customs and Border Protection office here in Malta. They would be an excellent asset to work more closely with to help improve the law enforcement in Phillips County.

What skills or attributes make you a good candidate for the position?

I have an Associates of Arts in Criminology and an Associates of Applied Science in Law Enforcement. I hold the Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Certificates issued by the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council. I graduated from the Intermountain Law Enforcement Executive Command College and received certification in law enforcement executive management. I was awarded the Medal of Valor by the City of Glasgow. I have basic and advanced certification as a coroner. I was named 2017 Officer of the year by the VFW Post 4067 and awarded a VFW National Law Enforcement Award at the state level. I've seen small issues in the Sheriff's office, like paperwork issues, outdated manuals, etc., and updated them to make things look a little more professional and presentable.

Through the 14 years I've been a deputy sheriff at the Phillips County Sheriff's Office, I've gone above and beyond and done more than the minimum required of me. I've looked for ways to make things better in the office as well as for the public. I will always look for ways to improve things in the office and want to make the community a safer place for the citizens.

NAME: Burt Peigneux

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Burt Peigneux, and I am running as a Republican for Phillips County Sheriff/Coroner. I am the son of Joe and Marion Peigneux. I was raised in Malta and graduated from Malta High School and went on to raise my son, Derek, here as well. In my spare time, I enjoy working on vehicles and racing at our local dragstrip, in addition to hunting and fishing.

I started at the Phillips County Sheriff's Office full time in October of 2000 and attended the Law enforcement academy in January of 2001. Upon graduation, I was given an award for being the most inspirational in the class, an award that is voted on by the classmates and staff. In 2004 I expanded my skill set by attending classes to become a coroner.

I worked for Phillips County Sheriff's Office until May of 2008 when I went to work for the Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier Services. I worked for a little over a year inspecting trucks around Malta and throughout the state of Montana. Ultimately, I decided to go back to work for the Sheriff's office in July 2009 so that I could be closer to my family. In July 2011, Sheriff Moran selected me to be his Undersheriff, a position I have held since.

What is your motivation for running for office?

Not only do I believe that I have the skillset, training, and competency to be the Sheriff and Coroner, but this is a position I have worked towards for quite some time. During my time as Undersheriff, I developed a realistic grasp of what the job entails and believe I can take on the issues our community is currently facing and the ones we will face in the future. Phillips County is an exceptional place to live and I would like to help keep it that way.

Some of the issues I see at the forefront are the upcoming Keystone pipeline, cybercrimes, and of course our ever-growing drug problem. With budget constraints in addition to being down a couple deputies after the retirement of Sheriff Moran, efficiency of the Sheriff's Office will be more important than ever. I have worked very closely with Sheriff Moran the last seven years as Undersheriff and have learned a lot from him. Together, we conducted research to find state and federal grants and worked to meet the guidelines to get the money needed to supplement our budget. With these grants and 911 funding, our office has been able to update our 911 phones, mapping, and radios to the most up-to-date equipment in the state. As Sheriff, I will continue to seek out grants and other areas of funding in order to save taxpayers' dollars without cutting back on the services we provide the county.

I have done my job with integrity and professionalism and this is what the residents of Phillips County deserve in a Sheriff and leader. I believe with a good leader and training, the Sheriff's office will run smoothly and professionally and can take on the upcoming issues.

What issues concern you in the position you are running for?

A main area of concern for me is the current shortage of deputies. We are one deputy short right now and with Sheriff Moran retiring we will be down two. We need to recruit, hire, and train new deputies in order to reach our full staff of seven, which is easier said than done. It makes it difficult to serve our community efficiently when we only have one deputy on at times. Phillips County has over 5100 square miles and seven communities within it so we can get pretty busy responding to calls. I want to make sure the residents of Phillips County are safe and maintain 24-hour coverage.

Another rapidly growing concern for me and many others in the community is the increase in drug activity. We have been and will continue to diligently fight this battle. Our office has worked closely with the drug task force and will continue to do so. I will ensure that our deputies receive adequate training so they can identify the individuals using or in the possession of illegal drugs, as well as safely searching for and seizing them. Our office made a significant amount of arrests over the last year for crimes that involve illegal drugs. Drugs affect the community as a whole because they lead to increased thefts, driving under the influence of drugs and other dangerous crimes to support their habits. We need to work together with the community in making sure these crimes are being reported and the individuals are held accountable and given the help they need.

One more issue that is going to directly affect Phillips County is the Keystone pipeline as it is set to enter the United States in Phillips County. Their plans are to have a couple man camps in Valley County and one in Phillips County. There is also the high possibility of protesters coming here to try to stop it from coming into the country. We have been proactive in getting our deputies trained in dealing with the individuals, but we still have the shortage of manpower concern. We have been working and training closely with neighboring counties as well, so we will be able to work together on these issues. We don't want to have another incident like they did with the Dakota access pipeline.

What skills or attributes make you a good candidate for the position?

I have been in state and county law enforcement for over 17 years and have been a deputy coroner for 14 years. I have received my Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, and Supervisory certificates and have over 1200 hours of law enforcement training. This training ranges from interview and interrogation, drug searches, crime scene investigation, first line supervisor, as well as a certificate for attending the FBI command college.

As Undersheriff for over 7 years now I have had the opportunity to work with the budget and know the importance of maintaining it. I have also been the administrator of several grants. Grants that I have applied for and received have helped purchase bulletproof vests for the deputies, new cameras for the patrol vehicles, surveillance cameras, and night vision optics. These are important items in helping the deputies to stay safe while performing their duties.

I have also applied for and been awarded a federal grant through the Department of Homeland Security annually the last seven years. With over $750,000 awarded during this time, we have been able to purchase six fully equipped vehicles along with other equipment to help us do our job more effectively.

Bert Peigneux

The deputies were able to work an extra 12,000 hours of overtime and over 100,000 miles of patrol at no cost to Phillips County due to this grant. This has helped us to cover the outlying areas that we normally would not have been able to make it to on regular shifts due to other calls.

As Undersheriff, I started a Field Training Officer program so that all new deputies are properly trained. I met with Montana Highway Patrol and implemented the 24-7 alcohol compliance program which makes alcohol offenders accountable for their actions and we are also connected with the MHP crash reporting system which links us to the state reporting system.

I would like to encourage everyone to vote in the June 5th election and would greatly appreciate your vote. Thank You.


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