New sheriff returns to love of state and job


Prairie County Sheriff Duncan Hedges 

By Kay Hoffer

Returning to Montana was an easy decision for newly appointed Prairie County Sheriff Duncan Hedges and his wife Melanie to make.
“It only took us a little over 20 years to return home,” Hedges says with a smile.
Hedges and his wife Melanie were raised in Ennis, graduating from high school there.
The couple lived in Idaho for the past 20 years before moving to Eastern Montana earlier this year.
“We had been trying to get home for a long time,” Hedges now recalls. After 15 years with the Idaho State Police, Hedges says he was ready for a change.
The couple and their three children moved to a home just within Dawson County, neighboring the Prairie County line. While he worked along side his aunt in an agriculture supply business in Glendive, the couple’s three daughters enrolled in Terry Schools this fall. He enjoyed his work at the feed store, and had intentions of taking over the business along side his cousin Coley Gibson. 
But another decision was to be made.
Shortly after moving back to Montana, Hedges says he was approached by former Sheriff Bill Klunder and others about the possibility of stepping into the sheriff’s position if Klunder were to retire.
“Once you get this job in your blood, it’s hard to let go,” Hedges said of his sentiments of law enforcement work and the tempting offer presented. “I didn’t make the choice by myself, it was brought up to the whole family.”
Once selected for the position, the Hedges family moved to a home in Terry. With the girls already enrolled in Terry Schools — Callie a junior and the twins Karlie and Kayla in the sixth grade — as well as all three firmly established in the Generals hockey program in Miles City, the move to Terry only made sense.
“We wanted to be in town,” Hedges said.
Besides his 15 years of experience with the Idaho State Police, Hedges has also worked in the sheriff’s office of Shoshone and Kootenai counties. He began his law enforcement career as a reserve officer for the city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
As he works to become familiar in a position he just began the end of last month, Hedges says he isn’t anticipating drastic alterations to the office.
“There won’t be a lot of changes, but certain things I do differently,” Hedges explained. 
Appreciating an open door policy, welcoming members of the public to stop in with concerns or questions, Hedges also says he believes in presenting a positive presence in the community through manner and appearance and getting out to visit with those living throughout the county.
“You’ve got to be working out there and be seen,” Hedges said. Adding, “We don’t write tickets to generate revenue.  That’s not the intent of the sheriff’s office.”
Published December 18, 2013
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