MIDLAND COUNTY, Texas — Event though election results have not been made final by the state, interim Midland County Sheriff Richard Gillette is wasting no time.
Sheriff Gillette tells NewsWest 9 he will remain in his temporary role as sheriff until March 31. He plans to retire, making room for Criner to take the helm at the sheriff's office several months early.
“He'll have full access to the sheriff's office, we'll be getting him up to speed on things," Gillette said. "So when he starts he'll be good to go."
Before this can happen, the move must be approved by county commissioners. Their next meeting is March 9.
The new sheriff in town, David Criner, took more than half of the votes in Midland County, beating current Chief Deputy Rory Mckinney, Tom Hain and Joe Lozano.
This is the first time in three decades someone new has worn the badge and title as Midland County Sheriff.
“That's crazy you know?," said Criner. "Crazy in a good way...it is surreal."
It's a responsibility Criner is not taking lightly-in fact, he ran for the position because of Gary Painter's legacy.
"Being well-respected in the community, caring about everybody fairly and making sure I'm approachable for the citizens," Criner said. "I want to continue to make this place safe for people to live, work and raise a family in while carrying on those successes he had."
But the legacy is shadowed by a looming Texas Rangers Investigation. It's an issue Criner plans to take on head first, ready to make hard decisions and big changes.
“If a person is under a criminal investigation, they will be placed on administrative leave immediately,” Criner said.
Perhaps the biggest task for Criner will be restoring the public's faith in the sheriff’s office and changing the work environment for the men and women who serve.
"I think morale will fix itself because it's not me being investigated," Criner said.
As a man of faith, Criner says he will lean on that foundation as he takes on this new task and title.
Criner who has more than three decades of experience working for both state and local law enforcement, will remain as constable for Precinct One until March 31.
The commissioners will either have to appoint somebody to that position or other constables will absorb his responsibilities.
By Monday, Midland County will know for sure if Criner will take over as sheriff on April 1, 2019.
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