WHITLEY COUNTY - Although the deadline to file his intent to run is still over a month away, former Kentucky State Police Lieutenant and current Corbin School Resource Officer Bill Elliotte has announced his decision to run for Whitley County Sheriff in 2022.
Elliotte made his intent to run public Sunday evening, posting a statement to his Facebook profile. In his statement, Elliotte said the decision to run came after much consideration and prayer, and that while he had never intended to run for political office, he decided to run after hearing rumors that current Whitley County Sheriff Todd Shelley was considering not running for reelection. Elliotte told The Times-Tribune he had reached out to Shelley before announcing his decision to run.
“I actually talked to the sheriff last week,” said Elliotte. “I think Mr. Shelley is a great guy. I’ve known him for over 30 years,” he added. “He’s just really a good guy and he even encouraged me.”
Elliotte said he considered Shelley to be a friend and that the points of concern highlighted in his statement were in no way negative views or reflections on Shelley and his department. Instead, Elliotte said he really started considering running for Shelley’s potentially open position after hearing the rumored names of those interested in replacing him. In his statement, Elliotte writes that he quickly realized how his law enforcement experience exceeded those rumored to run.
“I realized that if people, such as myself, who are very qualified for the position do not step up, then others with a lot less experience will be elected,” reads Elliotte’s Facebook post.
Elliotte, who has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement, began his career as a deputy sheriff with the Campbell County Tennessee Sheriff’s Department in 1991. He joined the Kentucky State Police (KSP) as a trooper in 1996, where he took advantage of the department’s promotion policy, studying extensively for tests given before each promotion. Elliotte’s determination and studious efforts paid off, as he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and then lieutenant. He said that during the first half of 2017, the group he oversaw while working at KSP were responsible for investigating 23 different murders. The group was able to solve 100 percent of those cases, which serves as a point of pride for Elliotte. After retiring from KSP in 2018, Elliotte began serving in his current role through the Corbin Police Department as a school resource officer (SRO).
“Our county deserves the best possible candidates,” Elliotte wrote in his post. “I want to be your sheriff and work with the citizens of Whitely County to have a sheriff’s department we can all be proud of.”
When asked what he meant by “a sheriff’s department we can all be proud of,” Elliotte recalled growing up and his grandfather being the city of Jellico’s chief of police. He said back then the police were respected and looked up to.
“It seems like our sheriff’s department, over the years it always seems like they’ve got black eyes from different things going on from different sheriffs,” Elliotte said. “Nothing directly relating to Mr. Shelley, I think he’s doing a good job,” he clarified. “If I’m sheriff, I want when you see a sheriff’s department cruiser coming down the road, the first thing you have is a positive thought,” he added. “I want to make it as transparent as I can. I just want to bring respect back to the office.”
Elliotte’s statement says that if elected, he would hire the most qualified people for the department and that he would hold them accountable. The statement also highlights how Elliotte feels it would be important for him to meet with constituents if elected. He says he believes churches, businesses, and law-abiding citizens should have more input and influence on what goes on in the community, saying, “What may seem like a small issue to some, may be a big issue to you.”
Because of his time serving as an SRO, Elliotte said he understood the importance of keeping students and schools safe. He said that if elected, it would not be uncommon for school officials to see him visiting Whitley County’s public and private schools.
“The job is going to be very time consuming and it’s going to be a busy job, but with that, you can still make time for the people,” Elliotte said. “The people of this county, this is their sheriff’s department. If I get elected, I’m just going to be the fortunate enough one to lead it.”
In his statement, Elliotte writes that he has observed a “huge divide” between the various law-enforcement agencies in Whitley County and that it would be his goal to have leadership from each department sit down and figure out the best way to serve the community.
When asked about this portion of his statement, Elliotte recalled back to an instance that occurred a couple of months ago in which he said one local department had asked another department to serve a warrant against a man. He said the requesting agency was worried that the man would leave before they could serve the warrant and thus, asked the other agency to do so. Elliotte said that second agency refused to serve the warrant.
“In my career, if another agency calls me wanting me to assist or something, it really got top priority. When I head that on the radio that day, it just blew me away,” he said. “It just didn’t make sense to me.”
Elliotte said he would like to see a better system implemented that would allow local agencies the ability to work together in solving crimes that may occur in both cities and the county, recalling a major crimes task force that once existed in Whitley County. Elliotte said the task force saw members of the sheriff’s department working alongside members of the Corbin Police Department, Williamsburg Police Department and members of the Kentucky State Police in solving crimes.
A 1989 graduate of Whitley County High School, Elliotte obtained a bachelor’s degree in police administration from Eastern Kentucky University in 1995. Elliotte is a long-time Whitley County resident, where he lives with his wife, Larrietta, who works as a physician assistant at Baptist Health Corbin, and their 11-year-old son, Reed. Elliotte’s oldest son, Jeremy, is a state trooper with the Kentucky State Police Department. The Elliottes are members of Hopewell Baptist Church in Corbin.
Elliotte said that he would focus on running on his experience and qualifications and that he hoped to avoid “how elections can get.”
“I’ll just be honest with you, we don’t know who all will run, but I want to run on my experience and the things that I have done,” he said. “I want to run on my experience and my training. I want everybody to vote for me and a sheriff’s department we can all be proud of.”