Walla Walla County Sheriff's race - Jim Romine

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How do you propose improving services to county residents without asking for increase in the Sheriff's Office budget?

The Sheriff's Office must continue to be frugal with taxpayers' money. I will improve service by assuring that citizens and cases are dealt with responsively, professionally and politely. I will make staffing assignments based upon skills and qualifications, with no favoritism, and customer service will come from the top down. Cultural diversity and bilingual ability will be considered when positions become vacant. Currently the Sheriff's Office has no full-time Hispanic officers. The city of Walla Walla City is well-served by the (city police). Sheriff's officers need to be in the rural areas, deterring and investigating crimes. As sheriff, I would be visible throughout the county on a continuous basis, including riding along with my officers and meeting with all communities, listening to the concerns of the citizens.

What would you like to see trimmed from the Sheriff's budget? (What do you view as non-essential?)

Most functions of the Sheriff's Office are mandated by law. For example, (Revised Code of Washington) 36.28.010 makes the sheriff responsible for civil process, which requires manpower and also generates some revenue. The County Jail is required to provide medical care to inmates comparable to the community standard. This is very expensive. The DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program has proven to be effective nationwide and must be continued. I do not identify any programs at the Sheriff's Office as non-essential. That said, I believe there are services that can be provided at lower costs through negotiating more economical contracts. I have suggested this in the past, but have not been in a position to effect change. I will evaluate services and expenditures continuously.

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?

I have served 22 years as road deputy and 12 years as jail commander, continuing "hands-on" police work as a sworn officer. I subdue arrestees and audit inmate phone conversations to obtain evidence on other crimes. I do courtroom security, using physical interventions when necessary to maintain order. I drive an unmarked vehicle and make traffic stops. Recently I've issued a reckless driving citation, stopped a multiple-occupant vehicle containing alcohol and marijuana and done investigation that identified a hit-and-run driver. I responded to a subject barricaded in his home in Waitsburg. The sheriff must be "hands-on" in a small department. I am firearms-qualified and allowed myself to be Tasered. We are accountable to keep ourselves physically capable, as when I changed my eating habits and lost 130 pounds.

What strategies do you have for dealing with gangs?

We must intensively train our officers in gang identification and culture and continue to photograph gang tattoos in jail. The G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education & Training) Program needs to again be offered to county schools. Originally developed through the joint effort of (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and the Phoenix (Ariz.) Police Dept., G.R.E.A.T. was taught here by my good friend Officer Tom Bowman, but when he passed away in 2004 the program stopped. The Sheriff's Office must collaborate with community organizations to provide tools for parents to prevent their children from getting involved with gangs. Cross-trained K-9s, such as I handled from 1983-1991 and 1996-1998, must return to sheriff's office. They are vital in crowd control, tracking and drug seizures. And we must have zero tolerance when gangs commit crimes.

What's the top issue you would address as sheriff?

The top issue I would address as sheriff is communication, internally and externally. The Sheriff's Office is one department: administration, records, patrol and the jail, and we must all be going in the same direction. Daily shift briefings and frequent staff meetings must be held. The (county) commissioners must be kept aware of all challenges and successes. Reaching out to all our colleagues in law enforcement will allow us to maximize our resources and intelligence. We will sponsor frequent, regular meetings with the Walla Walla Police Department, College Place Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and peers in surrounding counties and encourage relationships with ATF, DEA, FBI and Homeland Security. I know every foot of Walla Walla County and I will communicate with her citizens. There is so much we can learn from them!

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