by Denise Crites
Sheriff Al McNeil is closing one chapter of his life in public service on January 7, 2019, when he officially administrates the oath of office to Sheriff-Elect, Frank Hunewill.
Sheriff McNeil lost his election bid for a second four-year term as sheriff to Lyon County Jail Commander, Frank Hunewill. Sheriff McNeil has faithfully served the residents of Lyon County for the past 16 years, 12 as a deputy and four as sheriff.
Prior to his time as a Lyon County Deputy, he devoted 22 years to the Marine Corps.
When asked to look back on the past four years as the sheriff of Lyon County, he replied, “I think my greatest accomplishment as sheriff was the way we ran the sheriff’s office. We ran it like a business, maximizing every budget dollar we had to drive crime rates down and to provide the best coverage of our deputies throughout the county. We were able to run the department cheaper and far better than other larger sheriff’s offices.”
“Large amounts of money are not always the answer. We took what we were given and we did it right. One of my targets was violent criminals, arresting them, running them out of our county, and letting other violent criminals know that Lyon County was not the place they wanted to set up shop,” said Sheriff McNeil.
“I do see one aspect of my term as sheriff as a failure,” commented Sheriff McNeil. “I over estimated the ability to change the culture within the organization. Law enforcement everywhere, has a culture within a culture. It is a mindset and I thought that changing it would make a difference. I was unable to change it and therefore, I do see that as a failure. There are a lot of good people within our organization, but sometimes the culture of law enforcement just gets in the way.”
When asked what challenges he see in Sheriff-Elect Hunewill’s future, Sheriff McNeil replied, “Lyon County is spread out and is growing. From Fernley to Dayton to the south county, Frank will see the competing demands of resources. It is a balancing act. There is a need for more coverage, but there is no money in the budget for more deputies.”
“Criminals in Lyon County know where the cops are. Lyon County needs more plain-clothes deputies so the criminals cannot readily identify our law enforcement. With the population growth of Lyon County, we will experience increased crime rates. I see the growth of Lyon County as a huge challenge for Frank”, said Sheriff McNeil.
When asked what advice he wanted to pass on to Sheriff-Elect Hunewill, Sheriff McNeil replied, “Be a politician.”
When asked if he had any regrets about the last four years, either professionally or personally, Sheriff McNeil said, “Absolutely no regrets. I never expected to be the sheriff of Lyon County. Everyday I got to make someone’s life a little bit better.”
When asked if he thought his stance on the brothel issue cost him the election, Sheriff McNeil replied, “No, not at all. I lost the election in the south county where there was a lot of negative campaigning.”
When asked what was in his future, Sheriff McNeil happily replied, “My wife and I have been looking at the Oregon coast for about the past ten years. The fishing is excellent, I can hunt and trap, all the things I love. Fishing in Nevada sucks and that is one thing I really love. So we are looking to move to the Oregon coast, and do lots of fishing. That is my plan for the next chapter in my life.”
In closing, Sheriff McNeil said, “I have been blessed to serve the last 16 years in Lyon County. I have very fond memories of some wonderful people.”