Meet the Sheriff Winning a Ruthless War on Drugs in Hutchinson County
Note from the Editor: This is the first installment of a series of interviews and coverage of the law enforcement, fire, and emergency workers who serve the smaller communities throughout the Texas Panhandle. This series is designed to celebrate and showcase the individuals who serve our community in all capacities. If you would like to suggest a public servant for us to feature, please send an email to the editor.
When it comes to the Texas Panhandle we are lucky to have amazing law enforcement. It's even better when we have law enforcement with a mission and Hutchinson County has just the right person for the job.
Meet Sheriff Blaik Kemp, who serves Hutchinson County. He has a passion for public service and a mission to keep drugs out of his county and its communities.
When you hear the term "War on Drugs," the citizens of Hutchinson County know that it is the mission of Sheriff Kemp.
Q: Why the War on Drugs?
A: Methamphetamine is the main problem here. We've had multiple overdoses and it's killed people here and I hate it
Methamphetamine is the main problem here....We've had multiple overdoses and it's killed people here and I hate it. So we're really focused our sheriff's office on hammering the methamphetamine problem. And then our local police department...they're on board hammering with us. So we're doing some good things in the community
In addition to methamphetamine, Kemp also lists fentanyl as another dangerous drug that has taken root in the county.
Q: What are the dangers of Fentanyl?
A: A very, very small amount to kill you...it's caused a lot of overdoses. And you know, even long as law enforcement there is too because you know if we're on a traffic stop, and we find a little bit of it, we'll go get the gloves. if you get any exposure to [fentanyl], you're going down. We do carry Narcan with us, but it's still a dangerous thing to deal with. For both the public and for law enforcement who have to fight it and deal with it.
Q: How are you getting the community involved with the War on Drugs?
What I've tried to do is put myself out there and get input from the community and what they think could change or what needs to be changed and not just kind of come in here, bullheaded. I want the input....to learn and get some advice from them.
Some things that help us are anonymous tips, working with people who see things that are out of the ordinary and let law enforcement know. Communication is the main thing. If there's no communication [there's] a gap there and information is not going to be spread like it should be.
Q: How are you getting out in the community?
A: I'm trying to get myself out into the community and bridge the gap, period. You know, the mainstream media has painted law enforcement in a bad light in the past couple of years. If people don't actually know what law enforcement is and they see what's on TV, they can just assume things. So I'm trying to do everything that I can to not only focus on the drug stuff, but to also be in the community and doing things.
When I get a chance, I'll walk into schools myself, talk with teachers, I'm sending my deputy to the schools that have to do walkthroughs that way we can keep the school safe. You know, this last Christmas I arrested the Grinch. That's a big deal. Just being out there and having fun with people is a big deal.
Placing the ornery Grinch under arrest is just one of the fun community events Sheriff Kemp has done. More recently, he put on a great performance of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" in a local talent show.
As you can see Sheriff Kemp can get down and have a little fun.
It's good for them to see me out of uniform doing things that a normal human being does. We kind of get the stigma of cops being hard asses, I'm sorry to put it that way, but you know, I'm human just like everyone else. Right? I like to do fun stuff, and I think I can really relate to community by doing things like that. And they really realize I'm human just like them.
One unique thing about Kemp is that he has been involved in MMA since he was 18 years old. The Sheriff enjoys Brazilian Jujitsu and says he just might look into an MMA fight in the future.
It's not only the physical aspect because I need to be in shape, to do my job, and also to de-stress myself but I also want to set a good example for my officers, 'hey, we need to be in shape'.
I like to do fun stuff, and I think I can really relate to community by doing things like that. And they really realize I'm human just like them.
If you get in the fight with someone on the side of the road and you can't handle yourself, you know, it could cost your life and then what would your family to do. So you take care of yourself and take care of your body and make sure you're in good physical shape.
He also says that he personally wants to be in shape because he is also on the SWAT team, and he wants to be physically and mentally capable of doing his job.
Q: You said you're 28 years old. How does a 28 year old make their way to a sheriff of a county?
A: I have a lot of drive and ambition, but I also felt like I needed to do something. The drug problem was the main issue here.
I spent some time at the Borger Police Department. That's where I first started. Then I became a deputy over here [HCSO] back in 2017. While I was a deputy I picked up a couple of other commissions at the same time. I worked for Texline PD and reserve and then I worked for Texline marshal's office...So at that time I held three commissions....I went to Grey County, did some work over there and kept my commission here. So I was commissioned at four different agencies.
Q: How has the county changed since you started as Sheriff?
A: We didn't have 24-hour coverage, and that was a big deal to me. Now we have 24-hour coverage and that has marked down the crime rate. I've seen a drop in crime.
I've also seen the public public's happy with what we're doing. We're also working really well with the local agencies--there had been some friction in the past. We get along well, we work together well. We've gotten a lot more accomplished in supporting each other rather than trying to have a competition.
Q: What's the Big Picture for Hutchinson County?
A: The big picture is more community involvement. We want more drug dealers in jail. The DEA has been helping us...and we also have the state helping us out with some stuff too.....That's the big picture, better place for our children when they get older.