The Sheriff For
Ozzie's Goals and Priorities as Sheriff
2006 Goals - Achieved:
These were my stated goals prior to my election in 2006. With the help of my staff, deputies and the community, these major goals have been accomplished.
- Increase the Sexual Assault Unit to Better Track Sex Offenders
- Place Detectives in Districts to Solve Crimes in Neighborhoods & Business Areas
- Establish a viable Gang suppression effort
- Bring back Crime Check and repair our emergency communication system
- Resolve the Issue of Jail Overcrowding
- Improve operation of the Department of Emergency Management
- Foster Open and Honest Communication with the Community and the Media
One of my first acts as Sheriff was to restore a detective position to the Sex Crimes Unit to track registered sex offenders. Since that time we have expanded our commitment to keeping our children and community safe from sex offenders. We now have four Sheriff's Office personnel, to include three dedicated Address Verification Detectives, dedicated to tracking sex offenders in our community.
Community involvement is a time-tested crime-fighting tool. To have an effective community component, a law enforcement agency must have a leader that believes in that philosophy. As your Sheriff, I reestablished district assignments for detectives.
In 2006, working with federal, state and local law enforcement leaders, the Sheriff's Office was one of the lead agencies in establishing a Spokane Regional Gang Enforcement team.
- In 2008 the Gang Task Force conducted one of the largest law enforcement operations in the history of Eastern Washington resulting in 32 federal and 15 state indictments. We continue to work on stopping this violent threat to our public safety.
Crime Check/Emergency Communications System upgrades:
I worked hard with citizens and elected officials alike to bring Crime Check back and to also ensure that our Emergency Communications System is rebuilt to handle future emergencies.
The issue of jail overcrowding must be resolved. Ten years ago, a jail over-crowding problem was identified. From the time I was appointed Sheriff and after my election, I have worked with all of those involved in the criminal justice system to find solutions to the overcrowding issue.
We have worked to streamline the criminal justice system so those who break the law are dealt with in a timely manner.
A Community Corrections system has been established to deal with the issues that result in people being in jail.
Our system of justice is too expensive; it needs to be reinvented to save money that could be better spent on other community needs. By streamlining the criminal justice system further and ensuring speedy trials, good evidence management and probation oversight, providing drug and alcohol abuse intervention, mental health services, employment and education assistance, we can avoid some of the cost of building a bigger and more expensive jail.
Over the past year, my jail staff and I have worked hard to ensure that we reduce the costs of building and operating a new jail. I believe those in government must do everything possible to ensure we are spending taxpayer dollars in the most cost effective way.
Department of Emergency Management:
As the Director of the Department of Emergency Management, we have developed programs, policies and training to ensure that all levels of law enforcement and government understand the basic functions of dealing with disasters, both natural and man made. We have had several successes in this area.
- Emergency Management Advisory Council had not met since established in resolution in 2005. Working with public safety and government leaders, we re-established the emergency management advisory council. A functioning EMAC sets the direction of our community's ability to respond to disasters and is vital to the future of emergency management within Spokane County.
- Better Disaster Management:
- Valley View Fire: The Spokane County Sheriff's Office was recognized by the Incident Commander for Washington State Fire as a model for the rest of the state in how law enforcement and fire departments should work together during these types of emergencies.
- For the first time ever Spokane County recovered 75% of its costs in dealing with this type of emergency.
- Winter Storm of 2008-2009:
- Working with our state and federal representatives we ensured that our community had the people, equipment and monetary assets to handle and recover from this storm.
- Over 50 structures failed during the series of storms. Knowing that 80% of the businesses that suffer this type of disaster do not recover, we worked to ensure businesses that had these structural failures could receive low interest loans so they could rebuild and continue to provide vital jobs for the citizens of our county. As a county we were able to receive federal recovery money to assist in the cost of snow removal and storm management.
- School Closures: When I made the decision to close schools for 24 hours, I and the rest of the elected officials in the area were faced with the following facts:
- Multiple buildings around the area had collapsed
- Unknown snow loads on many of our schools roofs
- Over 80 inches of snow on the ground
- A forecast of another 5-11 inches of snow
- Impassable streets and roads
- Information that several schools were in need of snow removal from around the schools and roofs.
- Result of schools being ordered closed:
Making the right decision may not always be popular or easy; however, when it comes to public safety, I will always make the choice that protects our community over saving face politically.
- The National Guard was activated to remove snow from dangerous school roofs
- Deep snow was removed from around schools
- Many schools choose to remain closed for two additional days in order to remove additional snow
- No students or school employees were injured as a result of the snow related event
- On the day the schools were closed, the Mead School District's bus barn roof collapsed. Recently, an employee who worked at the bus barn told me that had everyone been in the bus barn that day, several people would have been injured or killed as a result of the collapse.
- Emergency management training: I increased the amount of training available for all elected officials so all of us can better understand and fulfill our roles during disasters.
In these days of budget shortfalls and economic distress, taxpayers expect and deserve efficient use of their resources and services. I am dedicated to better management of the taxpayers' money, putting it to work solving crime in the most effective way possible.
Ozzie for Sheriff
13308 West Pinebluff Road
Nine Mile Falls WA 99026
Paid for by the Committee to Re-elect Ozzie Knezovich for Sheriff (R)