Public Safety is my number one priority. We need a new jail. For over 14 years the men and women of the valley’s law enforcement have been hamstrung by the lack of jail space. I want to complete the vision that Jim Dupont started 14 years ago with a new larger jail.
Radios need to be fixed for all 1st responders. We have been without a reliable radio system for over nine years .
Leadership needs to be fair and open. I want the citizens of this valley to know I will listen to their concerns and I want the deputies to know I will be fair and consistent.
This is a team effort. I do not have all of the answers however if all of us in Flathead County come together we can come up with the solutions we need. Together let’s plan for the future of Flathead County!
Having good radio coverage for the valley has been an issue for the past 9+ years. Our radios work 50-60% of the time. Some days are better, but some days are much worse. We need funding to fix this problem. The funding needs to come through the county commissioners. The last repeater installed was around four years ago at Badrock Fire Hall. When Motorola came in to install it, they said we needed over 30+repeaters for county-wide reliable coverage. We currently have eight repeaters. I would like to gain funding and implement a plan to install one new repeater every year. It will take approximately 20 plus years to complete the network, but we would be making progress and have some light at the end of the tunnel.
We need to have a 400 bed detention facility. We need to look long term and build a facility that is going to work for us for the next 50 years. Do we need a 400 bed facility right now? No. The County Commissioners are looking at a facility that would be around 250 beds. That should last us for many years. I believe in 50 years we will need a 400 bed facility so if that is the case, we need to start saving and planning for an expansion sooner rather than later. If we start saving money now we could potentially have enough money saved to do an expansion down the road without raising everyone’s taxes like we are going to have to do now. I believe in doing things right the first time rather than doing things halfway. We have been in crisis mode with our jail because we failed to plan years ago. I want the jail expansion done right so future generations of Flathead County residents can sleep well at night, knowing there is plenty of room at the jail to house those individuals who would do them or their families harm.
I think a solution in regards to the jail is possibility implementing a drug court. I believe in second chances, however there needs to be immediate consequences for not following through with that second chance.
There are offenses where the arrestee admits guilt and wants to take responsibility for their actions. In those cases where someone is convicted of a crime and needs to see jail time, but they have a job, I would not want them to lose that job because they are in jail. I think we need an area of the new jail that allows that person to leave for work and then come back in at night to serve out their sentence.
I cannot remember the last time our office has been proactive for any length of time. Usually we have a few hours here or a few hours there to make a positive change in our community. We have just gained another deputy per shift. Last time we increased manpower was 2004. We are behind the curve with our manpower, however, we need to fix our jail space first before we add more deputies. Right now we don’t know how much our call volume would fall if we could actually bring people to jail. We deal with people numerous times during our shift/week. If we could bring people to jail for the small crimes, then they wouldn’t be out doing the larger crimes.
Training is a difficult issue because we do not need a full-time training officer. However, we do need to focus on pertinent, timely, and well-executed training. Planning and conducting a training event or program requires a huge commitment from the trainer and they need the resources to be able to do what needs to be done. On the flip side, it also takes commitment from the deputies.
I will welcome community involvement by continuing current programs such as utilizing our Facebook page and our citizen’s academy to its fullest. I will encourage more community face to face time by requiring my command staff as well as myself to work at least one 10 hour shift each month. By doing so I will be able to have a better understanding of the issues that are pressing for the community as well as the deputies I represent. I will also have a quarterly town hall meeting where I can meet with the public to discuss current issues as well as future problems that will occur. By doing so I will keep an open dialog with the community we at the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office serve.