How do you propose improving services to county residents without asking for an increase in the Sheriff's Office budget.
In my 12 years as an administrator with the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office, I've discovered the key to providing quality service with a shrinking budget is to develop partnerships with other agencies. I will continue to partner with area law enforcement agencies, Walla Walla Area Crime Watch and the Department Of Corrections in providing for the safety of the citizens of Walla Walla County. In 2011 I will launch a new Reserve Deputy program to assist with the tremendous workload our deputies currently face. This program is relatively inexpensive to develop, but its dividends are enormous. The addition of volunteers to help with the office work for both patrol and at the jail will contribute to meeting the restrictions of a shrinking budget.
What would you like to see trimmed from the Sheriff's budget? (What do you view as non-essential?)
The Sheriff's office has a solid reputation of operating within its allotted budget. I have always worked with the notion that this Office must be a good steward of the taxpayers' money. I've never believed in padding the budget with more than what you need to safely operate. I see nothing in our budget that is non-essential. As sheriff there are duties prescribed by law that must be performed by that office. There are some programs I feel are necessary to educate the public to the dangers of drug, alcohol and gangs. We need to continue the training of our deputies to be the best law enforcement or correctional officers they can be.
How long has it been since you've done "hands-on" police work? How important do you view this as being necessary to the job you are campaigning for?
For the past 31 years I have served Walla Walla County as a law enforcement officer. I have remained true to my commitment to protect and serve Walla Walla County citizens throughout my entire career. Being a smaller department, the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office relies on all of its law enforcement personnel to be fully commissioned. During critical staffing times and events, such as the county fair, the Balloon Stampede and subsequent events, it is crucial that the sheriff has the ability to fill a shift to help intensify the law enforcement presence to ensure they are safe, family friendly events. Our citizens deserve a sheriff who is fully qualified and Washington state certified.
What strategies do you have for dealing with gangs?
Gangs are a serious problem, everywhere. This issue affects us all, from Waitsburg to Burbank and Stateline to Prescott. Gangs don't respect jurisdictional boundaries. I am committed to creating a formal multi-agency gang task force in dealing with gang issues. With the assistance of our county school districts, I will reestablish the G.R.E.A.T (Gang Resistance Education And Training) Program. The Sheriff's Office began the first G.R.E.A.T Program in Walla Walla County. I will continue to meet with the gang unit regularly and attend meetings regarding gang issues. This is not something one agency can fix alone. We in law enforcement must partner with the community as a whole if we are going to make strides in reducing the hold gangs have on the youth.
What's the top issue you would address as sheriff?
My top priority is the overall improvement of public safety. I will evaluate and make the necessary improvements in all areas of the Walla Walla Sheriff's Office to include improvement of public relations with Walla Walla County residents, expansion of the inter-agency partnerships i.e., gang units. I will ensure that we have all the tools and training necessary to make Walla Walla County the safest place to live in Washington. Our office has made great progress in the areas of traffic safety and attacking the methamphetamine lab problems. This is a testament to the caliber of deputies employed by the county. I plan to be a leader who provides the tools and motivation that allow personnel the ability to continually strive to improve the services provided.