Retiring Franklin Co. Sheriff reflects on career -

Retiring Franklin Co. Sheriff reflects on career

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Retiring Franklin County Sheriff, Gary Toelke (Credit: KMOV). Retiring Franklin County Sheriff, Gary Toelke (Credit: KMOV).

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. ( – Candidates in Franklin County are fighting to replace long-time Sheriff Gary Toelke.

Toelke says he is retiring after more than 40 years on the job.

A war on meth in the late 1990s drew national media attention. Toelke says some did not like the way Franklin County was portrayed.

“We want to let people know what's going on. It was a severe problem that [we] didn't want to shove under the rug,” said Toelke.

In September 2006, Franklin County was highlighted for the “Baby Abby” kidnapping. Toelke says a young mother was attacked with a knife and the baby was taken from her home. When the baby was found unharmed, it was Toelke who delivered the news to the parents.

“There was probably 30 something family members consoling them. It was pandemonium for a while,” said Toelke.

Four months later, the country’s attention was once again on Missouri. Ben Ownby was kidnapped and found alive along with Shawn Hornbeck.

A reporter quips Toelke is “three for two” in kidnapping cases.

During his time in law enforcement, Toelke says he has seen tremendous growth. He says his department has grown from 36 to about 150 on staff.

“We have a heck of a time keeping employees because you can go right down Highway 20 minutes across the St. Louis County line and work for municipality down there and make a whole lot more money than what the deputies do here,” said Toelke.

He says two of his lieutenants and a retired St. Louis County officer are running to replace him. Toelke says he will not endorse anyone.

Toelke says the judge who first swore him in told him the sheriff’s office is an arm of the court and you do not want to get involved in politics. He says he has stuck by that.

Toelke’s advice to the new sheriff: Good luck.

Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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