Protesters have questions for Butler County Sheriff candidates

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EL DORADO, Kan. (KAKE) -

A Republican candidates' meet-and-greet in Butler County was upstaged Monday night by a peaceful protest over excessive force complaints by the Butler County Sheriff's Office.

"Every day is hell," said David Denchfield.

Life has been difficult for Denchfield since losing his daughter Rebecca in 2003. But he said the pain of losing a child is even worse when he can't get copies of police paperwork regarding her death.

"Even now, they won't give me a copy of the autopsy report," Denchfield explained. "They say they don't have one."

Chasity Scott lost her father in an officer-involved shooting in March, and still is looking for answers to multiple questions.

"I've told them if you can prove to me my dad was in the wrong, I will walk away. We've asked to see dash-cams. We've asked to see the police reports. We asked for everything, and their story keeps changing," said Scott.

They came to the meet-and-greet looking for a chance to talk with the four men running for Butler County Sheriff. After the uprising Sunday at the Butler County Jail, Sheriff Kelly Herzet said a lot of the issues are the result of too few deputies.

"We are down on manpower. We are about ten deputies short. We have been for quite some time. It's hard to hire people for the amount of money we pay," Herzet said.

Manpower was a theme among the candidates. "This county hasn't seen this kind of turnover in 30 years," said challenger Mike Holton.

Holton has spent his entire law enforcement career in Butler County. "The current staffing issues that are taking place right now are more or less they way employees are being dealt with," he claimed.

Curtis Cox feels his time in the Marine Corps will help him prepare deputies to handle anything, including riots. "We've got to make sure we can staff that jail as full as we can," Cox said. "So those officers can do their jobs in a situation like that."

The only candidate who has not worked for the Butler County Sheriff's Department in the past is Walker Andrews. "The three other candidates either work for the Sheriff's Department, or they worked with it in the past," Andrews said. "I'm the only outsider that's been a lifetime Butler County resident."

Andrews spent nearly 30 years with the Wichita Police Department, retiring as a lieutenant. For him, staffing problems are symptomatic of a bigger problem. "Obviously this didn't happen overnight. I think if somebody is accountable, they touch base with people that's in the jail."

Denchfield and Scott simply want a chance to be heard, and answers for their loved ones.

"I have some questions for people running for Sheriff in there. Hopefully I can get in there and talk to them," said Denchfield

"We're tired of it. We want good honest people in here," added Scott. " Everybody is human. Everybody's lives matter."