Spokane County sheriff candidates were allowed 50 words to respond to each of five questions. Their responses are listed in the order the candidates appear on the ballot.
How should the county address jail crowding?
Knezovich: In order to reduce jail overcrowding we must fund the Smart Justice programs designed to reduce recidivism. I led the effort that established programming designed to address the drug and alcohol, mental health, education, behavioral, employment, and housing issues that lead to people committing crimes.
Orr: If the jail is returned to the control of the Sheriff’s Office, I will concentrate on the criminal and not the crime. “One size fits all” approach is costly and ineffective. Treating those who are amenable will keep them from returning and greatly reduce the jail population over time.
What is your approach to criminal justice funding?
Knezovich: I believe that criminal justice funding starts by ensuring we are using money we already have to its maximum potential. Working with my criminal justice partners we established many practices designed to streamline the criminal justice system. Adoption of the Blue Print for Reform is critical to achieving further savings.
Orr: Increasing partnerships with local businesses, hiring professional grant writers, and proposing innovative pilot programs for state-funded capital expenditures are my priorities. The taxpayer is the last person I will ask for money.
How can property crime be reduced?
Knezovich: Area law enforcement must work together and strengthen both the regional property crimes task force we created in 2013, and the Intelligence Lead Policing system implemented in 2007, which led to a 7 percent decrease in property crimes in Sheriff’s Office jurisdictions since the baseline year of 2004.
Orr: To focus on the criminal and not the crime, I will be implementing two methods of property crime control. The first will be a targeted repeat offender model for street officers. The second will be a burglary offender profile model that has been shown to increase clearance rates 400 percent.
Should a state commission be allowed to revoke officer certifications in cases of lying or criminal conduct when an arbitrator allows them to return to duty?
Knezovich: Yes, if the arbitrator finds that the Sheriff or Chief followed due process, established just cause, and proved the allegations occurred then the officer should not keep their job. This is a matter of public trust. We only have effective law enforcement if the public trusts us.
Orr: Such a law is too limited and only focuses on cases selected by the Sheriff. I plan to bring the ombudsman model in the form of an ordinance to Spokane County where EVERY case of misconduct is presented publicly to citizens. This makes the deputy AND the Sheriff accountable.
What is your view of criminal justice reform?
Knezovich: In 2007 former Commissioner Mark Richard and I brought in David Bennett, a nationally recognized criminal justice expert, to establish Smart Justice practices and reform our criminal justice system. Many of these practices were adopted in the Blue Print for Reform commissioned by the County Commissioners and Mayor Condon.
Orr: As outlined in the Blueprint for Criminal Justice Reform, we should recognize our moral obligation to each other to punish, contain, rehabilitate and restore our offenders. We must discard ideas of mass incarceration and adopt smarter more evidence-based methods of crime reduction.
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