PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — An 18-year veteran with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday he is running for sheriff.

Patrol Captain Chris Watkins has been with the sheriff’s office since 2004. He is a lifelong Peoria resident, Air Force veteran and serves on the Central Illinois Emergency Response Team, FBI Safe Streets Task Force, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction SWAT team in Illinois.

“Some of the qualities I have to make a great sheriff is I’m a hard worker. I’m working around the clock, in the middle of the night. I’m always trying to fix problems and also just trying to make the workplace a great place to work,” he said.

Watkins said Sheriff Brian Asbell mentored him for the last fours years. He said he is ready for the next step in his career.

“Well, I’ve served my country and community since I was 18 years old. It’s something I never really had to think twice about, in that I have a vested interest in Peoria County. This is where I raised my kids and I want every family to feel safe in our community,” he said.

Watkins said their biggest challenge is retention and recruitment. He said it’s a national problem and solutions will require thinking outside the box.

“We have some of the biggest lateral bonuses in the state. But it’s still not solving a problem, so we’re going to take the recruiting to another level and make sure that we have staff. If we don’t have staff, then our citizens don’t see the level of service that we want to provide,” he said.

Deputy Sheriff Blaine Duhs announced his candidacy on Jan. 14.

Sheriff Brian Asbell is not running for re-election but endorsed Watkins via Facebook.