Three running for McLennan County sheriff

Incumbent Sheriff Parnell McNamara, Willie Tompkins and Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton are running for the McLennan County Sheriff position.

The primary election is Tuesday with a runoff March 24 if needed. Early voting began last Tuesday and the general election is November 8.

Sheriff Parnell McNamara has been in office since 2013. According to his website he has increased the number of arrests by 450 percent, established an Organized Crime Unit, established a Fugitive Apprehension and Special Task Unit, increased frequency of patrols, increased SWAT team training, acquired new equipment, acquiring more drug dogs and secured new riot gear.

McNamara attended Baylor University and received a B.B.A in marketing and business management in 1969. He owned several businesses over the years such as McNamara Firearms, McNamara’s Ben Franklin Store, McNamara Shamrock Stables, Bosqueville Rodeo Arena, McNamara Canceled Handgun Training and Bosqueville Community Center and Events.

Before becoming sheriff, McNamara worked for 33 years in the U.S. Marshal’s Service. He was Deputy U.S. Marshal for the U.S. Department of justice from 1970 to 2003. From 1978 to 1992 he was the Deputy-In-Charge of the Waco Division of the U.S. Marshal Service, Western District of Texas, which included 13 counties.

“Since taking office I have implemented changes that I believe have made our community a safer place for you and your family to live,” McNamara wrote on his website. “As your sheriff, I will continue to be proactive in fighting crime on every front, and I will serve the citizens of McLennan County with integrity, compassion, dignity and fairness.”

McNamara is a conservative Republican with the motto of “a lawman first, because your safety comes first.”

Willie Tompkins is the pastor at Bellmead’s New Generation Church and has a master’s in education and divinity.

He has 600 hours of police training at the Waco Police Academy and was chief of police at McLennan Community College. He was a patrolman for the Waco Police Department and was promoted to detective in less than nine years. He also has training from the U.S. Army in explosives and sabotage devices.

After working in law enforcement Tompkins started teaching. He taught in the Waco Independent School District and the Robinson Independent School District. He is still a substitute teacher for Waco Independent School District.

Tompkins ran as a Democrat against McNamara in 2012. He is running as a republican in this election.

“Tompkins was an instructor at the Waco Police Academy and at the Heart of Texas Regional Police Academy,” his campaign website said, “proving his ability to work with and coordinate the activities of those under him.”

Tompkins was unavailable to comment at the time of publication.

Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton is currently the Public Information Officer for the Waco Police Department. He has been the voice of Waco PD and handled the press after the Twin Peaks shooting and after the fertilizer plant explosion in West. He has been with the Waco Police Department for 34 years.

Swanton is running as a conservative republican.

Swanton has 34 years of law enforcement experience, is a law enforcement academy graduate and has over 3,800 hours of certified law enforcement training. He was on patrol, part of the SWAT team, a hostage negotiator and a detective.

He has basic, intermediate, advanced and master peace officer certificates as well as basic, intermediate and advanced hostage certificates. He was a street officer, patrol officer and crime prevention officer.

“To me I think qualifications are the most important and to be committed to community and have true law enforcement qualifications and that you’ve actually done the work. I say that I have done that,” Swanton said.