The New Sheriff in Town 1

Ada County’s Latest Sheriff Stephen Bartlett

When Stephen Bartlett decided in high school he wanted to make a career in law enforcement, he had two major ambitions.

He wanted to be chief of police in a dynamic city or to be sheriff of a dynamic county.

Thanks to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Barlett can say he’s been both.

“I’ve been able to achieve everything I set out to do here at the Ada County Sheriff’s Office,” Bartlett said in late June, days before being sworn in as the new Ada County Sheriff. “I owe so much to the men and women here at the ACSO. I am humbled to be able to lead them and serve the citizens of Ada County. I feel truly blessed.”

Bartlett was born in Edmonton, Alberta. His dad worked for the Canadian Air Force.

Since his dad was always working with law enforcement as part of his role with the military, Bartlett was drawn to those worlds and developed an affinity for disciplined life.

That’s also why Bartlett got a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Christian Life College in Stockton, California. Bartlett wanted a richer understanding of what made people behave and act in certain ways, figuring it would make him a better law enforcement officer.

After graduation, Bartlett moved to Idaho in the mid ‘90s for family reasons and joined the Payette County Sheriff’s Office.

Bartlett’s first job was in dispatch, working alone with one radio channel for the whole county. A few months later, he became a jail deputy. Not long after that, he joined patrol.

When Stephen Bartlett decided in high school he wanted to make a career in law enforcement, he had two major ambitions.

He wanted to be chief of police in a dynamic city or to be sheriff of a dynamic county.

Thanks to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Barlett can say he’s been both.

“You find yourself going to every possible call and having to deal with every type of situation by yourself. You really have to learn to talk to people. That was such a vitally important lesson for me,” Bartlett recalls. “And when you have maybe one officer each working for Fruitland and Payette police, and you are all covering a huge area, you really have to learn how to work together.”

That’s when Bartlett came up with a clever way to increase deputy safety and improve staffing at a low cost for Payette County — adding a K9 police dog to the force.

It was that work that eventually got Bartlett to Ada County.

He was training K9s with Garden City and Boise police when Garden City approached him about an opening. Eager for a chance to learn about law enforcement in a more urban setting, Bartlett joined GCPD as a patrol officer at the end of 1999.

Bartlett spent the next four years with Garden City PD, where he first took on the job of detective, another step in his continuing law enforcement education.

The next move was to join the Ada County Sheriff’s Office in 2003.  Just like the move from Payette County Sheriff’s Office to Garden City Police, the ACSO offered new opportunities to learn and lead.

The ACSO is the biggest law enforcement agency in the state of Idaho, with more than 650 employees, half of which are sworn officers on patrol or working in the jail. It is also an agency that serves both urban and rural areas.

Bartlett started on patrol, becoming a field commander. His next spot was as the City of Eagle’s first detective. (The City of Eagle contracts with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office for police services).

Bartlett was promoted to sergeant in 2011 and assigned to the Ada County Jail where he worked on honing administrative and management skills.

Bartlett took over the detective unit for the entire ACSO a short time later and ran that unit until he was promoted to lieutenant in 2013. That’s when Bartlett became the Eagle Police chief, achieving his first long-term career goal.

Bartlett was promoted to captain a year later and ran the Ada County Jail for several months while a different captain was doing a temporary stint at the FBI academy.

Bartlett’s last assignment before becoming the top lawman in Ada County was overseeing the public information and professional standards divisions at the ACSO.

When former Sheriff Gary Raney swore Bartlett in as the 38th Ada County Sheriff on June 30, he got to fulfill that second career goal. Now he is concentrating on the steering the ship that is the ACSO.

“Every day presents a different question you may not have thought of,” explains Bartlett. “It’s exciting to be in that position, to be able to develop solutions. I’m just thrilled to be in the position to do that for the people of Ada County. All my experiences have shown me the importance of continual improvement. Even the best can get better.”

Steve Bartlett and his wife Amanda live in Meridian. They have two pre-school age kids, David and Annika.