wear two hats

Russell County, Kansas Sheriff’s Office


The Russell County Sheriff’s Office was established in 1872, and started out as a one room jail, originally located in Bunker Hill, Kansas, with C. W. Ingersoll as the Sheriff. Eventually, the Sheriff’s Office was moved to Russell, where a limestone office and jail were constructed behind the County Courthouse on Kansas Street. In 1955, a new facility was constructed, which relocated both the Sheriff’s home and the jail to the current facility at 210 E. 4th Street in Russell. The jail was remodeled in 1977, 1984, 2000, and again in 2005. As the facility evolved, so did the office of the Sheriff itself. From the humble beginnings of a one man force, to four officers in 1980, seven in 1998, and finally nine full-time officers serving the citizens of Russell County as of 2007.

Russell County, Kansas consists of 900+ square miles and is located on I-70 between the cities of Hays and Salina. Russell County has a population of approximately 8,500 citizens, and two of its major industries are Oil and Agriculture. Russell is the county seat of Russell County, and the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for providing patrol to eleven towns, on US Army Corps of Engineers Lake (Wilson Lake), approximately thirty miles of Interstate 70, in addition to portions of highways US-281 and K-18. The Sheriff’s Office also served between 3,000 - 4,000 civil process papers each year and handles hundreds of calls in the rural areas and along I-70.

Past Sheriffs

  • 1872-1874: C.W. Ingersoll
  • 1874: W. C. Brown
  • 1875-1878: Jas. G. Weakley
  • 1878, 1879, 1880: No Record
  • 1881-1885: W. H. Dewey
  • 1885: W. H. Fox
  • 1887-1891: James E. Smith
  • 1891: F. S. Rockefeller
  • 1893-1897: A. W. Kenyon
  • 1897-1900: F. W. Vanderbur
  • 1900-1902: No Record
  • 1902: Charles Hoopman
  • 1904-1908: John G. Banker
  • 1908-1912: John G. Bogan
  • 1912-1916: John G. Banker
  • 1916-1920: P. A. Peterson
  • 1920-1924: W. H. Sellens
  • 1924-1928: P. A. Peterson
  • 1928-1932: W. H. Sellens
  • 1932-1936: Roy S. Thoman
  • 1936-1938: Harry J. Reiff
  • 1938-1942: Ted Steinle
  • 1942-1946: Russell Clark
  • 1946-1948: Ted Steinle
  • 1948-1950: Francis E. Goodman
  • 1950-1954: Milton Galyardt
  • 1954-1958: Harry L. Morgenstern
  • 1958-1962: Milton Galyardt
  • 1962-1970: Jule Dumler
  • 1970-1976: Milton Galyardt

Elected every 4 years

  • 1976-1980: Larry Batt
  • 1980-1984: Gary Clark
  • 1984-1988: Tom Keys
  • 1988: Tom Keys Resigned - Robert Balloun Appointed by Governor
  • 1990-1994: Robert Balloun
  • 1994: Robert Balloun Resigned (retired) - Tim Holmes Appointed by Governor
  • 1996: Tim Holmes
  • 1999: Tim Holmes Resigned - John R. Fletcher Appointed by Governor
  • 2000-2004: John R. Fletcher
  • 2004 to present: John R. Fletcher

The Sheriff's Office Today

The Russell County Sheriff’s Office is comprised of three main divisions. These are Patrol, Corrections, and Administrative. The Patrol division has three subdivisions that include Wilson Lake patrol, K-9 patrol, and a Special Operations Group (S.O.G.).

Sheriff John R. Fletcher: Born to Dick and the late Betty Fletcher July 4, 1964, in Amarillo, Texas, John is the youngest of three children. He is married to a wonderful wife, Heather, and they have two children, a daughter Jessica, 19; and a son Justice, 12. Though he was born in Texas, his family moved to Goodland, Kansas in 1970 when his father took a job as a salesman for Ulysses Irrigation Pipe Company. His first grade through high school years were spent with the Goodland “Cowboys”, and during that time he was very active in athletics.

He graduated from Goodland High School in May 1982, and went on to attend Fort Hays State University. After a year and a half, he realized that he was not in a place in his life where college was the right fit. In January 1984, he was hired by Allied Cementing in Russell, Kansas, where he worked as both a bulk truck driver and a pump truck driver. In March 1985, he was hired by the Russell County Sheriff’s Office as an EMT/Jailer. He knew his niche was law enforcement. At that time, the ambulance service was still being operatd out of the Sheriff’s Office, so employees were required to wear two hats, one as a certified Emergency Medical Technician and the other as a Jailer/Correctional Officer. During that same timeframe, he also worked for the Russell City Fire Department, rising to the rank of Engineer and becoming a certified Fire Fighter I. He remained at the Sheriff’s Office until July 1988, when he went to work as a patrolman for the Russell Police Department. In January 1989, he entered the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in the 105th Academy Class, and graduated in March of that year. While employed by the Russell Police Department, he became a certified instructor in Doppler Traffic Radar and Firearms, obtained an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from Barton County Community College, reached the rank of Senior Patrolman, and was the recipient of two Bronze Wreath of Meritorious Service awards.

On October 13, 1999, he was appointed by then Governor Bill Graves to fill an unexpired term as Sheriff of Russell County. His first official act as Sheriff was to appoint longtime friend and fellow law enforcement officer Max Barrett as his Undersheriff. Max brought with him not only years of experience, but extensive training, both of which have assisted in shaping the office into what it is today.

On March 14, 2008, Sheriff Fletcher graduated from Session 232 of the F.B.I. National Academy Program at Quentico, Virginia. He was among a class of two hundred and eighty law enforcement officers. The 232nd Session of the National Academy consisted of men and women from 48 states, the District of Columbia, 21 international countries, four military organizations, and tree federal civilian organizations. Internationally known for its academic excellence, the National Academy Program, held at the F.B.I. Academy, offers 10 weeks of advanced investigative, management, and fitness training for selected officers having proven records as professionals within their agencies.

Undersheriff Max Barrett: Max started his law enforcement career with Thomas CountySheriff’s Office in 1988 as a part-time deputy. He was hired by Hoxie Police Department, where he served for 1 year as a deputy patrolman. He attended the K.L.E.T.C. in 1989 and graduated as Class President of the 108th Basic Class. In November 1989, Max was hired by the Russell County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy. In 1997, Max left Russell to work for the Ellsworth County Sheriff’s Office where he became the D.A.R.E. Officer. Upon returning to the Russell County Sheriff’s Office in 1999 as the Undersheriff, he brought the D.A.R.E. program back to Russell.

Max’s training includes K.L.E.T.C. Basic in 1989, K.L.E.T.C. Firearms Instructor in 1990, F.B.I. Firearms Instructor, K.L.E.T.C. Side Handle Baton Instructor, K.L.E.T.C. Master Defensive Tactic Instructor, K.L.E.T.C. Spontaneous Knife Defense Instructor, and K.L.E.T.C. Sub-Gun Instructor. He also received training in Pressure Point Control Tactics or P.P.C.T. Defensive Tactics and with P.P.C.T. Spontaneous Knife Defense Instructor and Advanced Street Survival. Max attended Basic Swat Academy put on by Barton County Sheriff’s Office and Barton County Community College and began instructing outreach courses for Barton County Community College. Max attended numerous other schools including Tactical Operation School, Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police Command Development Academy, Kansas Bureau of Investigations Crime Scene Investigations for the Russell County Sheriff’s Office. Max is a P.A.D.I. (Professional Association of Driving Instructors) Certified Open Water Diver and Equipment Specialist. Other instructorship certifications include Kustom Doppler Radar Instructor, Combined Tactical Systems Instructor of Less Lethal Projectiles, OC aerosol, Chemical Agents, and Distraction Devices. Max is a Glock, Colt, and Remington Armorer. Max has attended F.B.I. Hostage Negotiator training and F.B.I. Law Enforcement Executive Development or LEEDS. Max has numerous citations for Valor including the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police Gold award for Valor in an adversarial confrontation.

Max was selected to attend the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA., where he was a member of the Security Team for Olympic sites. Max worked security for the Tennis, Soccer, Equestrian, Mountain Biking, and Rhythmic Gymnastics venues. Max has an Assocates of Applied Science in Criminal Justice from B.C.C.C. and a B.A. from Friends University in Organizational Management and Leadership. Max has been in Law Enforcement for 20 plus years and continues to serve the citizens of Russell County and the State of Kansas.


Fred Whitman, SGT. Andy VanDerWege, Deputy Bill Dollison, K-9 Deputy Lance Fisher, Deputy Damian Morgenstern, Deputy Jeff VonLehe, Deputy Graham Collins, Deputy


Karl Houck - Jail Administrator Eric Lalicker - Corrections Officer R.C. Kuhn - Corrections Officer Billy Kasparie - Corrections Officer Scott Axtell - Corrections Officer Michel Wilson - Corrections Officer Aaron Johnson - Corrections Officer


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