WAXAHACHIE — Cancel the search party, there is a new sheriff in town — kind of.
After whittling down the number of applications to 16, the Ellis County Commissioners Court has named Charles “Chuck” Edge as the next Ellis County Sheriff. The announcement came just before noon on Friday, April 21.
“The Commissioners Court is appreciative of the many qualified candidates that stepped forward to be considered for this critical position,” stated Ellis County Judge Carol Bush in a county-issued press release. “It was a difficult decision, but we believe that Mr. Edge is the person with the vision to lead the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office in a positive direction.”
The name could, and probably should sound familiar to residents of Waxahachie and Ellis County, as Edge previously served as the Chief of Police for the City of Waxahachie from 2007-14. Edge officially retired from his role with the Waxahachie Police Department in July 2014.
During his “retirement,” Edge said he often found himself spending copious amounts of time working at the family-owned Shooter’s Edge gun store, where his wife and son had maintained the day-to-day operations after its opening in 2011. He also had a brief stint as an interim police chief for the City of Kyle in 2015.
“I tried to do a little bit of retirement, but I don’t retire too well apparently because I was at the store every day,” Edge said.
Edge explained that he first considered filling the vacancy left by the March 8 resignation of former Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown after being approached by several members of the community. After discussions with his family, Edge submitted his application and began the “thorough” interview process.
“There were several people in town and the county who approached me and asked me if I might be interested or if it was something that I might consider. I thought about it, asked my wife and son, and I saw the need,” Edge explained. “I realized that, obviously, there has to be someone in place and I felt that I might be able to make a difference, so I went ahead and applied.”
“The process was very thorough,” he added. “The commissioners took this very seriously. I was personally called in for three interviews. They asked very relevant questions and had a very wide-ranging set of questions and you could tell that they had the best interest of the county in mind. They put a lot of effort into it. It was definitely thorough.”
According to the announcement released by Bush’s office, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office has a $9,017,169 annual budget, while the Wayne McCollum Detention Center carries an annual budget of $10,470,850 for a combined budget of $19,488,019. The office also has a combined staff of 234 people, with 126 employed at the jail.
While much of the management side of the sheriff’s office will mirror his work with the police department, Edge pointed out to the civil unit and county jail as the two new areas he will have to master.
“As a police executive of an agency, moving over and taking control of a larger agency is not that big of a difference but the duties between what a sheriff does and what a police chief does, yes, there are some differences, obviously,” Edge said. “The big one is the jail because municipalities don’t run county jails. A police executive at a police department will be doing many of the same things as a police executive at the sheriff’s department but there are obvious and some big differences.”
Although there are still a few legal hurdles to clear, such as reactivating his lifetime peace officer’s license, Edge said the current plan is to be sworn-in Tuesday during the Ellis County Commissioners Court. Once sworn in, Edge, a former flight engineer and aircraft maintenance manager in the U.S. Army with more than 500 flight hours and 100 combat hours aboard a UH-60 Blackhawk in Desert Shield and Storm, will fill the remainder of the two-year term that began in January.
“The safety and welfare of our citizens is the most important priority for all county employees, but especially for those who serve in the sheriff’s office,” Bush stated. “Because of the critical function of the sheriff position, the commissioner's court invested a considerable amount of time in evaluating and interviewing the candidates. We are pleased with our selection of Chuck Edge and look forward to a strong and supportive working relationship.”
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith