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Prosecutor, sheriff candidates debate on KSPS

Election Day is Tuesday, and if you still haven't decided which candidate for Spokane County prosecutor or sheriff you're supporting, these televised debates that aired last night on KSPS-TV may help you decide.

Check out the videos after the jump.

KCSD Drops Boy Scout Charter

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office let its charter of Boy Scout troop 911 expire at the end of 2013. Tim McCandless, CEO of Boy Scouts of America-Inland Northwest Council, said Northwest Backcountry Rescue is now chartering the troop, starting officially at the first of the year. Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said last year he was considering dropping the sheriff's office chartered troop when Boy Scouts of America ended its membership ban on gay youth. He said then that his Christian faith and the language in the Bible informed his view of homosexuality. "Boy Scout troop 911 is stronger than it has ever been," McCandless said Friday. "It has great adult leadership, a strong charter, and it has been very active." He said the troop has 22 active scouts and 15 volunteer adults. "The troop never stopped meeting," he said. Wolfinger couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (File photo: Duane Rasmussen)


Minidoka sheriff steps down, agrees never to hold office again

Here'sa news item from the AP and the Twin Falls Times-News: RUPERT, Idaho (AP) — The sheriff of a southern Idaho county has agreed to step down amid allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Minidoka County Sheriff Kevin Halverson turned in his resignation Monday after being arraigned in a 5th District Court on a felony for misuse of public money. Halverson is accused in an investigation by the Idaho Attorney General of using a county fuel card to charge more than $241 in gasoline for personal use. The Times-News reports that (http://bit.ly/10viPfM ) Halverson will plead guilty to the charge based on a plea deal reached with prosecutors. In return, other charges uncovered during the state's investigation will not be filed with the court. The agreement also includes a stipulation that Halverson never again hold public office and will resign. His resignation is effective Monday at 5 p.m.

Fam Sez Sheriff Bullied On Facebook

Family members of a Moscow man are accusing law enforcement of bullying after the man killed himself over the weekend. Andrew Cain, 19, committed suicide on Sunday. His death came one day after the Latah County Sheriff’s Office posted a Facebook comment about Cain. See the post below. The comment read: “We have decided that Andrew Cain is no longer the Wanted Person of the Week… he is the Wanted Person of the Month of June. Congratulations!” Loved ones told KREM 2 News in Spokane that Cain was bullied by law enforcement/KREM2 & KTVB. More here.

Question: Do you consider what the sheriff's department did to be bullying?

Trib Jeers Kootenai County Sheriff

In his weekly Cheers & Jeers column, opinionator Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune give jeers to …

… Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger. Peeved at the Boy Scouts of America national office's decision to admit openly gay boys, Wolfinger is ending his department's sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop. Bad enough that a man in his position would practice open discrimination against boys. That's on Wolfinger's conscience. But Wolfinger justifies his decision on Idaho's 1972 anti-sodomy law. "It would be inappropriate for the sheriff's office to sponsor an organization that is promoting a lifestyle that is in violation of state law," he said.It may be on the books, but it's not the law. Ten years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an anti-sodo-my law in Texas - and with it, the statute in Idaho and the 12 other holdouts. How can Kootenai County's top cop be so ignorant of the law? What else doesn't he know? Complete Cheers & Jeers column here.


Deputies Find Drunk, Burned Juvenile

At about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 16000 block of Danielle Road/Hayden to check on a male. The caller reported that he saw two young males dragging a third male, that was possibly intoxicated into an adjacent yard. Once deputies arrived on scene, they found a 16-year-old male that was semi-conscious and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The male appeared to have been suffering from hypothermia and he had a severe burn to his arm. The male was transported to Kootenai Health for treatment. The deputies contacted several juveniles at the residence where the male was dragged from and learned that there had been an underage drinking party while the homeowners were out of town/Lt. Stu Miller, Kootenai County Sheriff's Department. More here.

Question: Did you ever attend an under-age drinking party in your teen years?

Wolfinger Pins On Sheriff’s Badge

Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger's first day on the job began with swearing in his staff Monday. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Ben Wolfinger took the oath as Kootenai County’s new top cop Monday, but he shared the spotlight with Boston Wolfinger, his 5-week-old grandson whose tiny outfit declared, “New sheriff in town.” The first grandchild for Wolfinger and his wife, Mary, marked a peak in a rollercoaster year for the 30-year veteran of the sheriff’s department. Emerging from the spring primary as the Republican nominee, Wolfinger was swept into office last November with 72 percent of the vote. But four days before the victory, his mother, Alice, died from congestive heart failure. “She was one of my best campaigners,” Wolfinger said.

Question: Who was the better sheriff over the last 25 years — Rocky Watson or Pierce Clegg?

Wolfinger Ready To Become Sheriff

Wednesday's final ballot counts marked both a stark victory and a clear failure in the Kootenai County races. Residents voted overwhelmingly for Ben Wolfinger to take up the sheriff's badge, while they also shot down the proposal for an alternative form of county government. Wolfinger easily took the four-way sheriff's race with 72 percent of the votes, or 39,707 votes. Currently major at the sheriff's department, Wolfinger was pleased with the victory on Wednesday. "The numbers turned out well," said Wolfinger, who has served in all of the agency's departments over the past 30 years. "We're looking forward to moving forward come January." Wolfinger, who will serve a 4-year term as sheriff, has no plans to immediately tweak the agency of 300 employees, he said/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (SR file photo: Ben Wolfinger)

Question: Can anyone name the sheriff before Pierce Clegg?

KCSD To Make Hot Wheels History

Maj. Ben Wolfinger, with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department, displays two prototype Hot Wheels cars made with the department name and logo. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)

Kootenai County has earned a place in Mattel Hot Wheels history. The sheriff's department's logo graces one of the toy company's 2012 productions - a 2010 Ford Mustang GT police car. "They partner with a local law enforcement agency and create a model based on the agency's cars," said Major Ben Wolfinger. "It's their way of giving back, and to get sales up in the area." The Kootenai County car is part of the Mattel Hot Wheels Main Street series of 10 cars featuring various city police and fire departments including Roanoke, Va.; Austin, Texas; Cranston, R.I.; and Kokomo, Ind. Mattel contacted the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department about 18 months ago and asked if it would be interested in a toy homage to the department/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Did you play with Mattel Hot Wheels toys — or buy them for your kids?

Digger: Don’t Call Sheriff ‘Top Cop’

Digger: I could care less about this kid. What I care more about is every damn newspaper in the country refers to the county sheriff as the “Top Cop”. Its soooooo boring….I have nothing else to replace it with but it seems so outdated and over-used. (very similar to a 4-day, every day use of the term “dance card” to describe the election races, but I digress…)

Question: So what would you call the sheriff if not "top cop"?

Jail, Turnover Topics Of Sheriff Debate

Item: Sheriff candidates face public: Five hopefuls state their case during forum/Alecia Warren, Press

More Info: Kootenai County has a high turnover of deputies, noted Keith Hutcheson on Wednesday night, and he believes it's clear why. "Where they're going is Spokane County," said Hutcheson, Coeur d'Alene Tribe police chief and candidate for Kootenai County sheriff. "They're making 22 percent more by crossing the state line." Deputy retention, as well as jail overcrowding and officer prioritization were among the issues analyzed on Wednesday at a forum of sheriff candidates, held by the Coeur d'Alene Police Officers Association. The approaching retirement of longtime Sheriff Rocky Watson has garnered five candidates campaigning to win the county's highest law enforcement position in the May 15 primary.

Question: Did you watch the debate? Thoughts?

Constitutionalist Eyes Sheriff’s Post

Sheriff candidate Dave Resser thought he understood the sworn oath of office for elected officials. After attending a conference in Las Vegas last month, he said he has a clearer picture of what it means to be a constitutional sheriff and what that would look like should he be elected sheriff. “The sheriff, the sheriff’s deputies and other elected officials take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the state of Idaho to the best of their ability,” Mr. Resser said. “A constitutional sheriff will make sure that what is done in his county to his people abides by the constitution.” A constitutional sheriff is an official who protects and upholds the constitutional rights of his constitutes, the people he serves. He will not allow anyone to conduct business inside of his county that is unconstitutional/Summer Crosby, St. Maries Gazette Record. More here.

Question: Should a sheriff be the one to decide what is constitution and what isn't within his county?

JohnA: Idaho Sheriffs Can Be Felons

Item: Adam Johnson announces for sheriff/HucksOnline

JohnA: Well, unable to sleep, I did some research on who can be Sheriff in Idaho. Idaho Code 34-618 (2) states ‘No person shall be elected to the office of sheriff unless he has attained the age of twenty-one (21) years at the time of his election, is a citizen of the United States and shall have resided within the county one (1) year next preceding his election.’ That’s it. However, in 2008 Senate Bill 1356 would have changed the qualifications, adding ‘and is not a convicted felon’ to 34-618 (2). The bill also added training for newly elected Sheriffs. The bill was approved by the Senate but when it went to the House it was amended to remove ‘and is not a convicted felon’. How crazy is that? A person who can’t vote for themselves or carry a gun can still be a Sheriff in Idaho. And who in the House do you think seconded the motion to allow felons to be Sheriff? Our very own Phil Hart. :) Oh, my.

Question: Should Idaho change state law to prevent convicted felons from running for the office of sheriff?

What Does It Take To Can A Cop?

I’m hotter than a car hood baking under a July sun over the rehiring of Travis Smith, that disgrace of a deputy who was rightly canned last year by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. Smith racked up three internal investigations in one year, which could be some sort of record. His many infractions, including the mishandling of seized painkillers, established what Knezovich dubbed a poor performance pattern. No, duh. But the real nugget came when Smith committed malicious mischief by stabbing the seat of a truck he was searching like Brutus skewering Caesar. Claimed he thought it was funny. Et, tu, Travis? The bottom line is that Ozzie did the right thing for humankind by firing this clown. But apparently we have gone through the looking glass/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Which is harder to do — can a cop in Spokane County or properly discipline a Republican lawmaker behaving badly in the Idaho Legislature?

Violence prevention summit Tuesday

Mayor Mary Verner, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich are hosting a community conversation on how to prevent violence tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. in the city council chambers, lower level at City Hall. The meeting will be moderated by Steve Becker, Eastern Washington representative for Governor Chris Gregoire's office. The audience may ask questions and share opinions on crime and violence related issues.
The event is co-sponsored by a long list of community organizations and expected to draw business and community leaders from all over town - this blog is going.

Knezovich says he wouldn’t sign platform

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich won party backing for his current reelection bid last year.

Had he waited to seek an endorsement, Knezovich may not have won that endorsement. That’s because, he says, he will not sign the party’s pledge to support the county platform.

“If you don’t agree with certain things, how can you sign it?” Knezovich said.

In March, the party began asking candidates to consider signing a promise to support the platform, though GOP leaders stress they don’t expect candidates to agree with each of the nearly 120 policy statements in the document.

“I’ve taken an oath to serve the community,” Knezovich said in an interview on Tuesday. “I can’t take an oath on top of that.”

The Republican pledge also includes a line where candidates must check yes or no next to the statement: “I will not vote in favor of a tax increase, new or increased fees, or increase spending beyond the rate of inflation or the consumer price index.”

Technically, its county commissioners, not the sheriff who would have a final say on tax increases or rising budgets. Even so, the sheriff said agreeing to that that statement would be hypocritical because he believes a property tax package will be necessary to replace the aging Geiger Corrections Center — a priority he describes as critical to the community.

(Knezovich, state Rep. Matt Shea and former state Rep. John Ahern were listed incorrectly as signers of the platform in a list of Republican candidates that ran in The Spokesman-Review on Sunday. Those candidates won party endorsements last year — before the party asked candidates to consider the platform.)

Sheriff Ozzie to run for re-election…

Good morning, Netizens…

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is running for re-election as Spokane County Sheriff. Speaking at the annual Freedom in the Arboretum celebration held in the Finch Arboretum, Sheriff Knezovich affirmed he will be running for re-election, which comes as no surprise to most folks.

In my opinion, we could do a lot worse than putting Sheriff Ozzie into office for a second term. He has established a record relatively clear of the various problems and contention that the Spokane Police Department has been plagued with and has frank and open policies that are comparatively refreshing.

Your opinions, of course, may differ.


2 weeks, 3 days?

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich may very well cancel school tomorrow. He’s holding a press conference this afternoon. I’ll post after he’s done (I think the press conference is at 4:30, so I’ll try to post soon after that.) Here’s the Spokesman blurb about it. 

Central Valley, West Valley, Nine Mile Falls, Medical Lake, Liberty, Mead, East Valley, Freeman, Great Northern, Orchard Prairie and Spokane districts will comply. Cheney and Riverside districts already had made the decision to close for the day. In Lincoln County, the Reardan-Edwall School District will be closed.  

Update: He has ‘strongly recommended’ the closure of all schools in Sookane County for tomorrow, and officials are checking if he can order the schools closed.  The link above is still good, and the grey box above shows school closures as told in that Spokesman story. Prep and St. Georges are closed, also.