In today’s edition of “5 Questions With…” Wyo4News reached out to Sweetwater County Sheriff Candidates John Grossnickle (R) and Mike Lowell (D) about subjects of importance to Wyoming voters.
Wyo4News received answers from both Grossnickle and Lowell.
HOW IMPORTANT IS MANAGEMENT OF THE DETENTION CENTER?
Grossnickle: The management of the detention center is essential to the overall success of the Sheriff’s Office. The challenges of managing the detention center include ensuring the personal security of both inmates and staff, the health of everyone, and facilitating a timely release of the inmates back into society.
With that being stated, the detention center must function as though it is its own community. All the services that one would find in the community must exist within the detention center. While in custody the inmates must be productive within the detention setting. I believe that the inmate should assist in the functionality of the detention center in some form.
Additionally, the detention center must have up to date programs that will focus on assisting the inmates to be productive once they are released.
Lowell: Maintaining an efficient, legally-based, constitutionally safe detention center has been a top priority of mine since I first took office in 2015. Professional leadership is the key to establishing and maintaining a detention facility. At a minimum, detention leaders must be highly motivated, energetic, mature, reflective, and innovative. They should be capable of bringing out the best in their subordinates and inmates. They must have strong organizational management skills based on expertise in human resources, personnel management, labor relations, and public administration. Our detention center staff works hard to perform a difficult job under highly challenging circumstances, and I am very proud of them.
WHAT WILL YOU DO TO IMPROVE LAW ENFORCEMENT IN OUT LYING AREAS OF THE COUNTY?
Lowell: It’s fundamental to recognize that there are no simple answers or quick fixes in this matter. First of all, the fact is that we are patrolling them; the Wamsutter area is a good example – last year alone we dealt with over 900 calls for service and contacts there. But it’s undeniable that we cannot expand the extent of our patrol services anywhere without more deputies – deputies that we very much need but cannot hire due to budget restraints. (At our current strength, we have only one deputy for every 500 square miles of Sweetwater County.) Our first patrol responsibility is to outlying areas and unincorporated communities; those that, under statute, cannot provide their own law enforcement services.
Grossnickle: There needs to be resident deputies in the outlying communities. This not only benefits the communities with response time but it allows deputies the areas with high call volume to stay within those areas for proper response time.
There needs to be a budget analysis conducted in order to find money to fund these positions. The agency cannot turn down impact money from the state. Finally, there needs to be open and compromising dialog between the Sheriff’s Office and the outlying communities to come to a proper resolution in regard to the matter.
DO OUR SCHOOLS HAVE ADEQUATE SECURITY?
Grossnickle: They do not. I look forward to working with all entities that are involved with the safety and growth of our youth. As a society we are able to secure airports and government buildings, I do not understand why our community has not done this with are educational institutions. I have conducted threat and vulnerability assessments on the Sweetwater County Courthouse and understand what needs to be accomplished.
Additionally, I will be a voice and foster a climate of respect and trust, build relationships, promote communication, identify concerning behaviors by using up to date technology and help educate everyone involved.
If children do not have the basic needs, including safety, then they cannot dream and learn. If the parents and guardians of these children worry when they are at school, then those adults become ineffective in everyday life.
Lowell: Sweetwater County School Districts #1 and #2 are working in depth with local law enforcement in establishing and maintaining school security protocols and procedures. Superintendents Kelly McGovern and Donna Little-Kaumo and their school boards have taken the lead in recognizing and interacting effectively with the working partnership I share with Chief Dwane Pacheco of the Rock Springs Police Department and Chief Tom Jarvie of the Green River Police Department in developing our protocols and strategy regarding critical incidents at our schools. On a personal note, I take comfort in knowing that my own school-age grandchildren are that much safer for it.
HOW WOULD YOU IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE CITIZENS OF SWEETWATER COUNTY?
Lowell: We will continue our long-established policy of effective two-way communication with our citizens through personal and telephone contact, social media, print and broadcast media, and our website. We have always been and will continue to be responsive to the needs and concerns of the people of Sweetwater County; I handle calls, messages, and visits from citizens every day. As a law enforcement agency, we are, of course, open 24/7 – and so is our communications network with our citizens. Call me, message me, text me, email me, or come see me – you needn’t wait for a town hall meeting.
Grossnickle: I plan on including citizen input with issues in the communities and neighborhoods. I will conduct quarterly “town hall” meetings so that the community members can express issues that are seen by the community within their own neighborhoods.
The community member will also be active in coming up with a plan, with law enforcement, to come to a positive conclusion to the issues at hand. Ownership within the community member and law enforcement is a must in order to make Sweetwater County the best place to live.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS WITH OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES?
Grossnickle: In order to work in conjunction with other agencies communication is a priority. A monthly meeting with the administrators of the other agencies is a requirement.
There needs to be a positive relationship built with individuals within the other agencies in order to keep a positive road of communication going.
I will make myself available whenever others form different agencies need to discuss issues. I am a firm believer in communicating in person whenever possible.
If conflict or disagreement arises, compromise is a must. Everyone has a dog in the fight and wants their dog to win, however when dealing with government entities there has to be compromise in order for the community members to win.
Lowell: As I write this, members of my staff are meeting with command officers of the Rock Springs and Green River Police Departments and a representative of the Wyoming Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office concerning our ongoing collaborative anti-DUI patrols. This is quite routine; at the Sheriff’s Office we enjoy excellent working relationships with the Green River and Rock Springs Police Departments, the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Wyoming Highway Patrol, and the Wyoming Game & Fish Department; indeed, the entire range of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Over the course of my law enforcement career in Sweetwater County, I have worked always to maintain good working relationships with our fellow agencies, especially as Chief of the Rock Springs Police Department and Sheriff of Sweetwater County.