Newport police chief announces run for Cocke County sheriff

Newport police chief announces run for Cocke County sheriff

Newport Police Chief Maurice Shults Newport Police Chief Maurice Shults

NEWPORT (WATE) - Newport Police Chief Maurice Shults announced Tuesday he is running for Cocke County Sheriff in the Republican primary in May.

Shults, 50, told 6 News he's spent over 30 years in law enforcement and decided the time was right to run for sheriff.

His primary goal is to maintain an open door policy, and he firmly believes that all the assets of the county belong to all of its citizens so everyone should see the benefits and protections of those.

Shults says the biggest criminal issues in his area are pain clinics, pain pills and meth. Shults says it's a regional problem and he wants to coordinate with other law enforcement officers. He also wants to take enforcement beyond targeting users, also going after people he says sponsor those visits to the pain clinics and deal the drugs.

Shults first served as a reserve deputy, jailer and patrol deputy with the Cocke County Sheriff's Department from 1982 to 1987. From July 1987 to January 2004, Shults served as a patrolman, detective and lieutenant with the Newport Police Department.

He then gained additional law enforcement experiences from 1991 to 2004 serving as an agent with the 4th District Drug Task Force and was promoted to the position of Assistant Director of the Drug Task Force before becoming Chief of Police for the City of Newport in 2004.

Shults is running against incumbent Sheriff Armando Fontes. The two have a history of conflict, including a 2012 incident in which Shults claimed injury after Fontes slammed a door in his face.

Sheriff Fontes told 6 News he is running again for sheriff, issuing the following statement:

"The United States is a Constitutional Republic where brave men and women fought for a person's right to vote and run for political offices. I am running for re-election as sheriff as well and the people of this great community get to exercise their freedom of voting. Chief Shults running for sheriff is of no concern, I would prefer him to work with me as I do with all of the rest of the city police officers, state agencies, and federal agencies for the betterment of Cocke County. In my opinion, team work is more beneficial for the people of Cocke County."

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