1. Would you run the sheriff’s department in the same way it is currently run or would you make changes? If you would make significant changes what are they?
As the new sheriff of Jackson County, I would bring new ideas to the department. When you have been working within a job for a long period of time, it can be difficult to see that changes that need to be made. Fresh eyes can bring a new perspective. One thing that I would like to implement is a community policing program, which would include assigning officers to specific geographical areas so deputies can get to know the residents and business owners of their patrol zone. Deputies would have a more personal interaction with people in public, and residents would know who they can turn to when they need police assistance. I would also like to meet with mental health and substance abuse assistance agencies to figure out what programs can be brought in to assist with inmates in the county jail. There are a lot of individuals out there who struggle with addiction and commit crime related to their addiction and do not have access to services to aid in their recovery. Helping them out is not only better for them and their families, but it also helps save public resources down the line. I would also like to reach out to other sheriffs in the region to see what work they have done to improve services in their jails, and I would talk with the current deputies to find out what things they feel are working well and where they feel there is a need for improvement.
2. If elected sheriff, what would your priorities be?
As the Jackson County Sheriff my main priorities would be: 1. Protect the taxpayers of Jackson County by providing the best possible solution to building a new cost-efficient jail, 2. Increase proactive patrolling to deter crimes, 3. Work and collaborate with other local law enforcement agencies for staff training and development and 4. Maintain a transparent and professional organization that builds trust with the community.
3. How would you describe your management style?
My management style is one of collaboration, where other deputies work with me and not for me. People want to be led not managed. As a leader, I feel strongly about collaboration and never asking others to do something that I would not do myself. Collaborative leadership is the type of leadership required to get effective and efficient results both within and across organizational boundaries. I invest time to build relationships, handle conflict in a constructive manner and value the ideas and opinions of team members. This type of management style prevents silos within an organization and promotes cooperation to accomplish goals. I have the ability to work with people from other teams, branches and other departments to make sure the workflows and ideas are aligned without any confusion. I also realize that one particular style doesn’t work in all scenarios, and I have the ability to adapt and assess the situation to achieve the best outcomes. I will be self-aware and continually learn how my leadership style affects practices and competencies.
4. How would you ensure fair and equal treatment of Jackson County residents?
In my almost seventeen years as a Correctional Officer at the Anamosa State Penitentiary I have learned a great deal about fair and equal treatment of individuals. Equality is about ensuring everyone is treated fairly and equally by putting all biases aside. I have learned that when people feel that they are treated fairly they are more apt to contribute socially and economically to the community and to enhance the growth and prosperity in a positive way. Instead of judging people by their past, treat them with respect. Everyone has a story. It may be something they’ve gone through in their past or something they’re still dealing with. Withhold judgment and instead offer the consideration you’d like to receive. For relationships to thrive, it is important to listen with curiosity, speak with candor and act with integrity. Speaking your truth allows people to be honest with themselves and with you, and acting with integrity fosters accountability. In Jackson County like anywhere else, how you treat others is how you invite them to treat you.
5. When should a sheriff’s deputy turn their body cameras on and off?
Body cameras help to protect sheriff’s deputies and citizens against false accusations, claims of misconduct or abuse. They can also help prevent and de-escalate confrontational situations between officers and civilians. I believe a deputy should be required to activate their cameras when responding to calls for service and during law enforcement related encounters and activities, such as traffic stops, arrests, searches, interrogations and pursuits. A sheriff’s deputy should provide notice of recording to any individual if the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy. If the deputy is unable to provide notice or turn the camera on, this should be completed as soon as practicable. Use of the cam while on-duty provides hard video evidence of decisions made by officers in high-intensity situations. The footage is extremely valuable in piecing together what actually happened and can help recall details of fast-paced situations.
There are times however, when a body camera may be turned off. This would include time when the deputy is completing paperwork alone or only in the presence of another law enforcement officer. The camera also may be turned off when the deputy is inside of a patrol car which is equipped with a functioning in car camera; however, the deputy must turn on the camera upon exiting the patrol vehicle for law enforcement related encounters. Cameras also should be turned off when a witness who wishes to report a crime requests that the camera be turned off—however, if there is reason to believe that the individual has committed a crime it may be turned back on with the individual’s knowledge. Finally, when a deputy is participating in community events, such as education within the community or school districts, cameras can be kept off.
6. Do you think the sheriff’s department handled the Amanda Lassance case correctly, and would you have done anything differently?
I have been advised, by legal counsel, to decline comment regarding this matter, since it is related to current litigation. If elected sheriff, I and fellow deputies would discuss and address this matter as appropriate.
7. What would be your policy for providing information to the public?
I would inform the public with objective and balanced information. Transparency is an essential component of this. The public can sense when details are missing, and it can be easy to form speculations and their own conclusions. But people should be given the right messages at the right time. The community has a right to be informed what is happening in Jackson County, but they also must keep in mind that there are times when maintaining privacy is needed. As situations develop and all parties involved are informed of details, the public can be updated. I feel that it is important to have all the key facts before moving forward with information to the public. The First Amendment allows for freedom of speech and freedom of press, and as the sheriff I would want to ensure the public has accurate information. Building a level of trust with the public will aid in their confidence that the department is sharing information as appropriate.
8. What kind of training do you think is necessary for sheriff’s deputies to do their jobs well?
The role of the sheriff’s deputy is to enforce local, state and national laws within a county. They are responsible for overseeing police duties such as patrolling their jurisdiction, making arrests and responding to emergency and non-emergency calls. Sheriff’s deputies must complete a deputy sheriff training program, which includes: learning about law enforcement principles, vehicle speed assessment technology use, emergency driving techniques and firearm use and safety. In addition to meeting the basic training requirements, I believe hands-on mentorship with another sheriff’s deputy is the best way to learn. The deputy has the opportunity to collaborate with other deputies to gain knowledge and apply it efficiently. I also think it would be beneficial for them to network with local law enforcement agencies to enhance their experience.
9. Jackson County voters twice defeated a bond measure for a new jail. Do you think taxpayers should support the building of a new Jackson County jail, and why?
As I have stated, one of my priorities is to protect the taxpayers of Jackson County by providing the best possible solution to building a new cost-efficient jail. While I believe there is a need for a new jail, I do not feel it needs to be as large as originally planned. We need to take a closer look at the data to see what the average number of inmates would be to determine the best size. By building a larger facility, you will need to onboard more staff, which increases the annual budget. It is not feasible to build a larger jail without increasing the number of staff required. The evidence is clear that the current facility presents safety concerns for both the staff and inmates. There are also limitations on the number of inmates it can hold, along with currently being a men’s-only facility. I believe it is important to listen to the residents of Jackson County and explore all options for funding of the project.