What is your biggest aspirational goal if elected?

“As sheriff, I’ll lead JCSO in building a culture of excellence. Joe Nole is holding us back from reaching our full potential.  For four years, he has failed to lead, failed to bring out the best in JCSO staff, and failed to deliver the service quality and public safety you deserve.

I’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with Jefferson County first responders since 2013. I’ve witnessed their individual courage and character, sacrifice and dedication, and they have seen mine. They are my brothers and sisters, and they have my respect.

JCSO staff deserve a better leader.

Good leadership builds great teams. Good leaders make a group greater than the sum of its parts, by supporting and promoting individual and collective excellence. Great teams deliver excellent service.

My brothers and sisters in JCSO deserve a leader who will bring out the best in them, enabling us to protect and serve the public more faithfully and effectively. This is why I felt duty-bound to run for sheriff.

Poor leadership degrades team performance. Poor leaders make a group less than the sum of its part, by denying staff opportunities to excel. Weak teams provide poor service.

In law enforcement, service quality is everything. Most people only call 911 when in crisis – on the worst days of their lives. They need to know JCSO will respond to and resolve their concerns promptly, with compassion and professionalism, every time.

Sadly, JCSO has fallen short of that standard under Joe Nole. Too often, JCSO fails to respond to and resolve 911 calls. Joe Nole has no plan for school shooter response – and JCSO staff lack the needed training and equipment to respond effectively to active shooter events of any kind. Under Joe Nole, JCSO lacks professional accreditation, and has no strategic plan.

You deserve better service from JCSO. Only better leadership can make that happen.

As sheriff, I’ll work with JCSO staff to build a culture of excellence. Our strengthened team will ensure that when residents call 911 for law enforcement, JCSO responds to and resolves every call, every time. We’ll prepare JCSO for effective active shooter response, achieve full accreditation, and develop a dynamic strategic plan for continuous improvement.”

 

What initiative or initiatives would you champion if elected? 

“Top priority: Remedy Joe Nole’s failure to prepare JCSO staff to respond effectively to school shootings. In July, Nole insisted JCSO had a plan for this. But he’s never briefed JCSO staff on this supposed plan, and a public records request proved Nole’s claim false: he has no plan.

Nole has failed to train and equip JCSO staff adequately to counter active shooters. For nearly four years, Nole has failed to follow JCSO policy, which requires the sheriff to coordinate crisis planning with other first responders, schools, county government, etc.

As sheriff, I’ll provide briefings for JCSO staff on my active shooter response plan, supported by appropriate training. We’ll budget to acquire additional needed protective equipment as soon as possible.

Then, we’ll get in compliance with JCSO policy by coordinating long-overdue crisis planning with county and school partners. We’ll start with active shooter response, and then continue with other policy-required crisis planning, for natural disasters and other emergencies.

Also urgent: Improving JCSO service quality. Under Nole, when people call 911 needing help from law enforcement, JCSO too often provides inadequate service. Too often, JCSO doesn’t even show up. Sometimes, to save themselves a drive, JCSO staff try telephonic law enforcement – literally phoning it in – to avoid showing up in person. This rarely really resolves 911 issues. Even when JCSO shows up in person, too often deputies don’t provide the expected support. Sometimes, deputies don’t even file a report where it should be done.

Anecdotal evidence for JCSO’s declining service quality is overwhelming – and tragic for the 911 callers Nole’s JCSO failed to help.

Sadly, we lack reliable statistical data for JCSO’s declining service quality. Why? Because for most of the last four years, Nole has failed to track JCSO’s 911 call response and resolution rates –or to monitor service quality. Evidently, service quality wasn’t a priority over the last four years.

However, because my campaign has raised public awareness of JCSO’s service quality failures, Nole last month announced he had begun to pay attention to the problem.

You and other county residents deserve a sheriff who cares about service quality every day, every month, every year – not just at election time.”

 

Describe your management style.

“As sheriff, I’ll schedule individual meetings with each JCSO employee. I’ll listen to their views of JCSO’s strengths and needs, hear their suggestions to improve local law enforcement, and ask how as sheriff I can foster their individual career growth.

Then, we’ll collaboratively develop plans for JCSO to deliver on our campaign promises – finding the best ways to address our county’s most pressing law enforcement needs.

I’ll also involve staff in setting specific, measurable, achievable goals for JCSO improvement and individual job performance. This will ensure every employee has a clear road map to professional growth, and understands how their individual work contributes to team success.

Micromanagement is generally inadvisable in any organization, and is certainly wrong for a small law enforcement agency like JCSO.

As sheriff, I’ll delegate appropriately. I’ll lead the development of our vision and mission, strategic plan, policies, and short-term and long-term goals. I’ll support the undersheriff in his work as JCSO’s chief operating officer, responsible for supervising daily operations. The undersheriff, in turn, will help sergeants support and supervise deputies in their vital work. At line level, JCSO staff will have the autonomy and discretion they need to perform their duties with fidelity as accountable professionals.

As sheriff, I’ll improve job satisfaction by refocusing JSCO on our core mission. All of us became law enforcement officers in the first place to protect and serve the public. Joe Nole’s low expectations – and his failure to support staff – created the current service quality problem, and also led to lapses in evidence collection and handling that make prosecution of suspects more difficult than it should be.

As sheriff, I’ll set professionally appropriate expectations and support JCSO staff to ensure we respond to and resolve every 911 call, every time, without fail. We’ll also meet all accreditation standards  –  including for evidence collection and handling and thorough crime reporting

Law enforcement was never just a job to me. It’s a calling. After 43 years, I still love coming to work every day to help people. The work is most fulfilling when a good leader builds a strong, high-performing team. I want that experience for every JCSO employee.”

 

What has been your biggest challenge in personnel management and what did you do to resolve that challenge?

“As undersheriff from 2017-2018, my biggest personnel management challenge was improving JCSO performance. I met this challenge by…

Ensuring JCSO responded to and resolved 911 calls reliably and effectively;

Developing a strategic plan to guide continuous improvement at JCSO;

Completing 85% of the requirements for full professional accreditation (a process later abandoned by Nole);

Improving evidence handling to support criminal prosecutions; and

Revising and updating JCSO policies to reflect professional best practices.

Achieving these breakthroughs proved challenging because many JCSO staff resented Sheriff Stanko’s high expectations for rapid, comprehensive improvement. As undersheriff, I could not without being insubordinate tell JCSO staff I agreed Stanko tried to do too much too soon. But behind closed doors, I urged Stanko to prioritize sensibly and slow down to avoid further alienating the deputies. Sometimes, he listened. In other cases, I did my duty and followed the sheriff’s orders, while doing my best to be a responsible buffer between Stanko’s expectations and JCSO staff needs.

Despite those difficulties, as undersheriff I helped JCSO respond to and resolve 911 calls reliably and effectively. This proved surprisingly straightforward. JCSO normally has sufficient staffing to respond to and resolve every call, every time. As undersheriff, I set the expectation that we would do this, and JCSO staff generally rose to the occasion.

Declining service quality under the current sheriff reflects Joe Nole’s failure clearly to set the expectation of responding to and resolving every 911 call, every time. The decline also reflects Nole’s failure to monitor service quality for most of his term–until my campaign prompted him to start paying attention to the issue. Because Nole either did not notice or did not care about declining service quality, JCSO staff generally did not receive the support they needed to improve performance.

As sheriff, I’ll ensure JCSO tracks 911 response and resolution rates to ensure we achieve and maintain 100% success. We’ll closely monitor service quality to make sure 911 callers get the help they need, every time. When service falls short, we’ll ensure 911 callers get the help they need, and help JCSO staff improve their performance.”

 

Please rank the importance of these topics and explain your reasons for your choices: Workforce improvement, training, and morale; equipment and infrastructure needs of the sheriff’s office; strategic planning; community outreach and communications.

“Workforce improvement, training, and morale: JCSO deputies urgently need tactical training to respond effectively to active shooter situations and other emergencies. As a small force responsible for a large, rural county, we cannot continue to provide basic tactical training to just a few selected deputies. In some emergencies, those trained few will be unavailable and there’ll be no time to wait for backup who are likely off duty. We’ll need the nearest deputy to be prepared to respond. For this reason, as sheriff I’ll ensure every JCSO deputy – including me – receives the tactical training needed to cope with any foreseeable emergency. This training will build confidence, increase morale, and save lives.

Equipment and infrastructure needs of the sheriff’s office: Every JCSO deputy urgently needs upgraded protective equipment for active shooter response. As sheriff, I’ll secure funding for lifesaving tactical equipment including modern ballistic helmets, hearing protection/communication headsets, and additional, improved body armor (rifle plates and carriers).

Community outreach and communications: Under Joe Nole, JCSO has lacked transparency, failed to listen, and missed opportunities to gain public trust and support. As sheriff, I will communicate early and often to keep the public informed, hear and resolve community concerns, and build support for JCSO. I’ll show up in person at community events and be more visible and accessible than the current sheriff, and more responsive to calls and emails. We’ll improve our website and social media strategy for improved communication. We’ll support and encourage neighborhood watch programs. We’ll also coordinate with county and community partners to develop a more effective, comprehensive response to the intersecting challenges of mental illness, drug addiction, and homelessness.

Strategic planning: JCSO urgently needs a strategic plan. We used to have one. When Joe Nole took office, he discarded JCSO’s strategic plan – wasting the $20,000 taxpayers spent developing the plan. Without a strategic plan, JCSO has drifted – rudderless, unresponsive, irresolute, reactive – and generally failed to address community needs. As sheriff, I’ll work with JCSO staff and community stakeholders to develop a new strategic plan for continuous improvement. That work will focus on addressing our most pressing present concerns, while also anticipating future needs and the long-term changes needed to meet them.”

 

What do you think is the public’s biggest misconception of the Sheriff’s Office and what would you do to change it?

“Many people assume everything is OK at JCSO. But that’s false: Due to Joe Nole’s poor leadership, JCSO has no school shooter response plan, no professional accreditation, no strategic plan, inadequate emergency response plans, and inconsistent service quality.

I know all this because I’ve worked for JCSO for 7 years. I’ve seen these problems first-hand, addressed what I could within my current job role, and dutifully reported the rest to my superiors. But Joe remained unresponsive.

Before deciding to run, I asked to meet with Joe to discuss solving these problems. But Joe refused to meet. Joe just told me to do whatever I was going to do.

I knew then there was no hope for change under Joe. I had to run for sheriff.

Others have noticed the problems at JCSO. Over the last 10 months on the campaign trail, at almost every event, voters tell me more of the same: JCSO didn’t come. JCSO came but didn’t help. I didn’t even call because I didn’t think JCSO would come.

However, some assume all is well at JCSO because they haven’t experienced erratic JCSO service quality, yet.

Others assume all is well because many JCSO staff have endorsed Joe for re-election. Does that mean morale is good? Not really. It means Joe’s failure to lead has bred complacency. Many JCSO staff have grown comfortable with Joe’s unclear expectations. But – as ethical professionals – we actually feel demoralized by JCSO’s underperformance under Joe.

In fact, staff turnover has actually increased under Joe. We’ve had to hire eight deputies – including five recruited from the Port Townsend Police Department. That is not retention, it’s backfilling.

It’s not pleasant to hear that JCSO has problems, that we’re not as safe as we assumed.

But you deserve the truth – not false assurances.

Voters need to know Joe won’t fix the problems at JCSO.

But I will – with your help.

As sheriff, I’ll ensure JCSO is prepared to defend our community from active shooters.

We’ll respond to and resolve every 911 call, every time.

We’ll get accredited and develop a strategic plan.

We’ll deliver the service and protection you and your family deserve.”