Rick Geist is set to be sworn in as Franklin County undersheriff at 8:30 a.m. Monday during the Franklin County Board of Commissioners’ study session in the commission chambers at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1428 S. Main St., Ottawa.
Longtime Undersheriff Steve Lunger has accepted the position of lieutenant colonel with the sheriff’s office, Sheriff Jeff Richards said Friday night, as part of a restructuring of the department.
The lieutenant colonel and undersheriff positions will be on the same level and will report directly to the sheriff, Richards said.
As lieutenant colonel, Lunger will be over administration/records, jail and dispatch, Richards said. As undersheriff, Geist will be over patrol, investigations and the evidence room, the sheriff said.
“The division of responsibility should provide some administrative relief for our front-line supervisors,” Richards said.
The reorganization would eliminate the department’s master deputy/public information officer position previously held by Jerrod Fredricks, who resigned along with Sheriff Jeff Curry after a months-long Kansas Bureau of Investigation probe that led to criminal complaints alleging official misconduct and interference with law enforcement against Curry and interference with law enforcement against Fredricks.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback appointed Richards sheriff April 10 to succeed Curry.
After Curry resigned from office April 1, Geist expressed interest in seeking the sheriff’s nomination from the Franklin County Central Republican Committee, but later did not put his name up for consideration. Richards was named the GOP group’s nominee after a unanimous vote.
“The main thing is that they’ve got to build the integrity back up, get the community behind them and let the community know that they are working for them and it will take some time to do that,” Geist said of the sheriff’s office after Curry’s resignation. “I’m wanting to build the office’s trust up for the community.”
Geist and Lunger will assume their new duties Monday after the swearing-in ceremony.