For the second time in four years Sheriff Dave Daniel is facing a challenger to his position as Josephine County sheriff. Challenger Jonathan Knapp has a number of criticisms he has leveled against Sheriff Daniel. The Illinois Valley News interviewed Knapp and then gave Daniel the opportunity to respond.
What qualifies you for the position of sheriff?
Knapp: I bring 40 years of management and supervisory experience: four years as a sergeant in the Air Force; 15 as a captain in the Salvation Army; and 14 years as a sergeant in the Maricopa Sheriff’s Office, the fourth largest in the nation. In the Salvation Army I was finance manager for the southern half of the state of California, which makes me uniquely qualified to run the finances of the sheriff’s office.
Daniel: I have 28 years in law enforcement, starting with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, moving to Grants Pass, then to the Oregon State Police. I came back to the city of Grants Pass in 2001 and worked there until I ran for sheriff in 2014. I have a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University and a master’s degree in management from Southern Oregon University.
What is not working well in our sheriff’s office?
Knapp: I think we’re doing a very poor job on our response to services for the citizens of Josephine County. When they call in, they’re being told there’s no one available, or they’re told we don’t go out on those types of calls or they’re told to go online and fill out a form themselves.
Daniel: We respond to all calls for service. There are certain calls that a deputy doesn’t necessarily need to respond to because it doesn’t have an investigative purpose. But if it’s a life or property crime in progress, that goes to the top of the list and we immediately send someone out.
How do you plan to address what’s not working well if the sales tax measure or other funding measure doesn’t pass?
Knapp: I want to create a policy where if a person is driving suspended, with no insurance or is under the influence, their car is impounded for 30 days and at the end of the 30 days they’re going to pay a fine to get that car back. And those monies will be going to the sheriff’s office. I want to do fundraisers. For example I will get every business in Josephine County to donate a product or a service, and then we will have the largest fundraiser that Josephine County has ever seen out at the fairgrounds. Through that and other methods I expect to raise about a million dollars.
Daniel: That’s not sustainable. First of all I’d like to see fundraisers that raise $100,000. Say you fundraise $150,000. Next year people aren’t that excited anymore so let’s say you raise $50,000, then the deputy you just hired you can no longer sustain. That’s not a stable foundation. I’m unaware of any sheriff’s offices that are funded by fundraisers. We currently have 18 deputies and we’ll go down to about six if the sales tax doesn’t pass. If the tax passes we’ll be looking at about 41.
If the sales tax does pass, how much money do you expect the sheriff’s office to receive and will it be enough to provide 24/7 patrols?
Knapp: I don’t support the sales tax because the county commissioners and the sheriff are being deceptive in a couple of different areas. One is, it won’t generate the money that they’re telling people it will.
The other side is that the county is going to pull about $1.2 million off the top for a contingency fund, which should be going to the sheriff’s office. Then the city of Grants Pass gets their portion, the city of Cave Junction gets their portion, and Josephine County gets their portion. And out of Josephine County’s portion they’re going to first fund the district attorney’s office and juvenile justice and only then the sheriff. By doing it that way, those of us who live in the unincorporated areas are going to end up paying 100% of the district attorney’s budget and 100 percent of the juvenile justice budget, even though 70% of those caseloads are generated by the city of Grants Pass. So instead of getting 5 1/2 million the sheriff’s office will get only 3 million.
Daniel: The exact numbers are an unknown. A state economist came up with the 18 million. If Knapp has a crystal ball, I would like to borrow it. He seems to know what and how the commissioners and the budget committee are going to allocate the money, but I don’t think they even know that. I do know that law enforcement is their No. 1 priority. Neither the county commissioners nor the budget committee has made any kind of declaration about how the funds will be divided up. I expect to get about 8 million for the sheriff’s office and that will be enough to provided 24/7 patrols.
Speak to the idea of using more volunteers to assist the sheriff’s office.
Knapp: There are a lot of things now that volunteers aren’t doing that they could be doing. For example, we can train people to do crime scene investigation and evidence collection. We can have nongovernment contracts with agencies like concierge security where when a Cave Junction deputy arrests somebody, instead of driving that person all the way to Grants Pass, we can send out our contractors to Cave Junction to pick up the prisoner in a secure sheriff’s office paddy wagon and bring them to Grants Pass. That leaves the deputy in Cave Junction on patrol, serving the citizens, instead of wasting that hour and a half to two hours.
Daniel: We already have a volunteer division. Volunteers work on patrol, in the courts, traffic control, search and rescue and special functions such as parades and different events. We have about 150 volunteers total.
As for CSI, the district attorney prefers to have sworn deputies conduct the investigations. This is historically in Oregon a function of the deputies or detectives and having volunteers do it could bring up contract and labor disputes. It is best practice for sworn personnel to conduct this function.
As far as using contracts with concierge services to drive arrestees to GP: Where would he get the money for that?
You’ve accused Daniel of fiscal responsibility. Can you elucidate?
Knapp: The sheriff spent every penny of his budget plus the four million of contingency funds because Commissioner DeYoung told him to do that to show what he could do if he had more money. In my opinion that’s fiscally irresponsible because now on June 30 we will be broke because we spent the money.
Daniel: We spent 4 million dollars over the course of five years, 2017 to 2022, to show the public that we can provide a professional law enforcement service. If you don’t build that trust, how do you expect the county to provide you with funding? What he calls fiscally irresponsible is good business, proving what you can do.