THERE’S A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
AND HE’S BEEN BUSY HIS FIRST 100 DAYS
Dave Kramer was sworn into office as Boundary County’s new sheriff on January 9th, 2017 and he has hit the ground running. As you enter the lobby of the sheriff’s office, walls are freshly painted, and where there used to be a bulletin board with old fliers and irrelevant information, there is now inserted behind a large glass frame, a framed Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. As you look to the left there is a beautiful rendition of the U.S. flag with the Declaration of Independence of the 13 States embedded on top of the framed flag.
One of Sheriff Kramer’s first projects was to get his new office transformed from what was mostly used as a storage room into a functioning office to meet with employees as well as the public. I noticed on his office wall, a print of the famous painting of George Washington on bended knee with his horse. Dave said that is one of his favorites and it hung in his office when he was Bonners Ferry’s Police Chief. He also had a print of the Declaration of Independence displayed as well. He made it clear that he is available to the citizens of Boundary County and values their interaction and welcomes the public’s input.
Sheriff Kramer has established the Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Support Group, who are residents of Boundary County who have already become indispensable on several projects the Sheriff has instigated. This group is composed of local residents with a myriad of skills, expertise in areas of specialization and experience. Besides the feeling of patriotism as you walk into the lobby of the Sheriff’s office, there is a new wall that has been built by this volunteer group for three purposes:
1. Security for the dispatch center
2. Protection for any members of the public that may be in the lobby as prisoners are escorted from the jail to the courthouse; and
3. A specific area for law enforcement officers to secure their weapons before entering the jail and then be able to re-holster them before coming back into the public purview. The secure area can also be utilized for speaking to an inmate privately.
On the far end of the lobby is a new drop box for expired prescription drugs that the public can drop off for proper disposal.
Part of the Sheriff’s Volunteer Support Group includes retired criminal investigators and homicide detectives, who are able to contribute to enhancing the deputies’ training, and are currently investigating “cold case” homicides. Volunteers also include pilots, people experienced in construction, building, and plumbing, as well as emergency medical protocols and mental detention who can be called upon for “stand-bys” at the hospital instead of pulling a deputy out of service to perform this responsibility. So far there are 35-40 such support volunteers and anyone that has skills they believe will aid in the betterment of our community by volunteering their skill set services is encouraged to contact Sheriff Kramer. He appreciates “resources outside the box to help fill in the gaps.” He also plans on using jail inmates on the weekends for road clean-up.
In order to enhance co-operation between local agencies when a need arises, Kramer has cross-deputized the Bonners Ferry Police Department, the Tribal police and the Bonner County Sheriff’s deputies. In case of an emergency where more officers are needed, they would be able to be dispatched and assist under an incident commander. Sheriff Kramer wants to continue to build partnerships, not only with these other agencies, but with members of the public who would like to become a part of his Volunteer Support Group, or possibly apply to become a reserve deputy. Kramer would like to obtain better training by consolidating training opportunities with the other surrounding agencies. He believes in communication and information sharing with other agencies and also to the public via the sheriff’s department website of www.nixle.com.
Emergency situations, such as the mud slides that affected traffic, were posted on this website. He suggested that the public sign up for alerts via nixle for both Boundary and Bonner Counties. Being informed of negative situations ahead of time can save a lot of headaches and stress. Sheriff Kramer also believes it is important for the public to be aware of situations where a multitude of eyes could be aware of information leading to criminals, suspects, missing children, etc. that they could call in and provide information to the sheriff’s department without endangering themselves. He is a proponent of neighborhood watches and encourages the public to reach out to the sheriff’s office if a neighborhood is interested in having a neighborhood watch started.
There are three levels of reserve officers. Level III, the lowest level of reserve officer, are non-certified and the requirements for this level are not mandated in IDAPA 11.11.01 but are encouraged. They shall be limited to working temporary extraordinary situations that do not require general law enforcement powers such as jeep posse, mounted posse, parades, etc. Level II reserve officers shall work under the direction of a full-time certified peace officer.
Level I reserves must complete POST (Police Officer Standards and Training) and can serve at the behest of a Sheriff or Police Chief. Detailed requirements and information can be accessed online under: https://adminrules.idaho.gov/rules/2013/11/1101.pdf. However, financial constraints may hinder a law enforcement agency appointing a reserve as the agency would need to provide the required law enforcement equipment. Boundary County does have a sheriff’s reserve unit and if a member of the public is interested in becoming a reserve deputy, you can contact the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Kramer stated that a big issue for the department is training, and he is working on improving this situation. Recently, deputies attended tactical medicine classes through Boundary EMS. Kramer has obtained a federal grant at no cost to the county and with no strings attached for large trauma bags in each SO vehicle as well as IFAK’s, which are Individual First Aid Kits, especially designed for officers under fire. The sheriff is also working on obtaining videos for the deputies to improve skill sets and address expirations of certified skill requirements.
The Sheriff is also working on getting a handle on the department’s vehicles. He is determining how many vehicles are needed and plans to surplus about 13 vehicles that are worn out or unneeded. He plans to surplus one jet boat but will keep one in service. He will be working with the tribe regarding river issues. He was told that one new vehicle was authorized for purchase and that he could have that vehicle for himself. Kramer opted to keep an older vehicle with high mileage in order for the deputies to have the new vehicle put in service for community law enforcement response. He plans on using fleet purchasing to obtain the best bid to save taxpayer money when new vehicles need to be purchased.
Good radio communications is also on the sheriff’s lengthy “to do” list. Deputies need to be able to communicate with dispatch, with each other as well as other law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel when working on an incident. He would like to work towards a “simulcast system” like the fire department has which would provide better signaling as the radios would be linked. He said they need an existing law enforcement frequency to move forward.
Dave Kramer is a member of Boundary County Search and Rescue. This is a private organization but the sheriff’s office has the authority and responsibility for this organization. He has been participating in winter survival training and he is a certified diver.
Sheriff Kramer is also working diligently on getting the Boundary County jail certified which has been lacking for many years. Without this certification, the jail coverage through the county’s insurance is reduced. He believes that for the safety of the inmates and employees, the BCSO needs to be in compliance. Also, inmates from other counties cannot be housed in our jail due to lack of certification, which would provide additional funds to the county from per Diem charges for the out of area prisoners when there is room in our county jail. Kramer has plans for a 24’ x 24’ indoor exercise area which is needed for the certification.
Our new sheriff would also like to send the county dispatchers to a dispatch academy which would raise their level of expertise. There is also a possibility that the dispatchers may start dispatching medical aid calls.
Dave looks for opportunities to be cost effective, and to find ways to have our community prepared for unexpected situations. As he speaks about the people of Boundary County, he is proud of their willingness to step up to the plate in emergency situations, such as the heavy snow this past February causing issues with snow loads on roofs, flooding, and of course the mud slides. He also has a sense of humor as when he spoke about all the potholes in the roads that a possible way to determine if a driver is DUI is that he is driving straight because a sober driver would be trying to avoid the craters in the road.
Our new sheriff will be receiving $11,000 in the form of a grant to obtain 12 body cameras, one for each deputy and two for detectives, which are due to arrive soon. Body cams are pretty much standard issue for larger communities, and they can be a valuable asset as they record what is going on in a situation that a deputy may come across in the performance of his duties.
Some upcoming additions to Dave’s “to do” list includes putting together a program for follow up on victims of crimes in our community, starting a sheriff’s office off-road vehicle program, specifically for ATV’s and motorbikes, and he also plans on starting on-going personnel evaluations. Sheriff Kramer is shooting for his plans to be working or in place to begin within his first six months, and then “building out from there.”
When asked about the biggest differences between working for the Bonners Ferry Police Department for 30 years, 20 of those years as Police Chief, and now as the Boundary County Sheriff, he stated that with the SO, there is a lot more territory to cover and more accountability. The Bonners Ferry Police Chief reports and serves at the behest of the city council; the sheriff serves at the behest of the residents of Boundary County and is elected by the voters.
Dave asked that I mention that on May 19th at 5:00 pm at the Veteran’s Park at the county library, there will be recognition of the National Police Memorial Week. The public is urged to attend and support their local law enforcement personnel.