A SHERIFF TO BE PROUD OF
(One Top Cop Keeping his Word and Accomplishing his Goals)
By Donna Capurso, Patriot Journalist
Sheriff Dave Kramer was sworn in as Boundary County’s new sheriff on January 9th, 2017. I met with Dave to see where he was on his “to do list” that we had previously discussed upon his becoming sheriff.
Boundary County now has a Deputy Reserve Unit with Level I, II and III reserve deputies. 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. Boundary County has 40 Level III deputies and they are limited to working temporary situations that do not require general law enforcement powers. Some of the assistance they currently provide are pilots, department construction, professional counseling and hospital stand-bys. They can also serve as a jeep posse, mounted posse, and parades. A number of these folks are retired police officers or deputies from different areas that have relocated here and provide expertise in a number of ways as some are retired criminal investigators and homicide detectives working “cold cases”. Level II reserve deputies work under the direction of a full-time certified deputy and are uniformed; they are often used for crime prevention. Level I reserves must complete POST (Police Officer Standards and Training) and can serve at the behest of a Sheriff or Police Chief. Sheriff Kramer is very appreciative of these reserve deputies that assist our community in this manner and welcomes others in Boundary County who may be interested in serving in such a capacity to contact him.
It is so refreshing to walk into a governmental office and see a framed Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights as well as a beautiful rendition of the U.S. flag with the Declaration of Independence of the 13 States embedded on top of the framed flag. In addition to the feel of patriotism as one enters the sheriff’s department, Dave has instituted some safety measures inside the department in regards to inmates and public contact. His construction volunteers added a new wall that has been built 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. One way viewing is now in place in the dispatch center where the dispatchers can see into the inmate booking area but the inmates can no longer see into the dispatch center. There is also no face to face contact between the male and female inmates. Sheriff Kramer has obtained a grant in order to extend the Sally Port which provides a confined area for a prisoner to be escorted into the jail; this area is camera monitored.
Probably Dave’s biggest challenge was getting the jail certified after being told that Boundary County’s jail facility would never be able to meet the mandated Idaho Jail Standards. One very large obstacle was to provide inmates with an indoor recreation area within the facility that would be secure. He overcame this obstacle by providing an enclosed carport outside as there was no room for a recreation area inside the jail. Some exercise equipment acquisition is in the works for the inmates. The building also serves as a meeting place for inmates and can be used for counseling services. For the food preparation area, which could not be directly supervised, cameras now monitor the area by dispatch and/or the detention deputies. Changes were also made in the food service which could save about $13,000 per year for the county and still meet the nutritional needs of the inmates. The sheriff, commissioners and staff worked hard to bring the jail into compliance and Dave attributes this to teamwork. Instead of two mattresses per inmate, they now get one. As Dave mentioned, a jail needs to be a jail, not a motel; their needs will be met but no extras at the cost of the county taxpayer.
One of Sheriff Kramer’s goals was to dispose of old, excess vehicles, which has been completed by auction. The department has ten rolling vehicles, one jet boat and one other boat; the vehicles are on a “rotation plan.” The SO boats are equipped with radios and radios have also been provided for the Kootenai Tribe boats via private donations for communication purposes with the Sheriff’s Department when necessary.
The sheriff has also instituted an off road vehicle program which includes two dual sport motorcycles through a grant from the USFS. When the SO responds on USFS land for calls, the Forest Service reimburses the SO for their law enforcement presence. One example of deputies responding on forest service land are the Huckleberry camps occupied by non-residents where they are told to leave or get cited. The SO also has access to one large snowmobile and two regular sized snowmobiles for search and rescue.
The SO also has a labor program which encompasses road cleanup, painting, etc. If an out of area inmate has to participate in the labor program but is not currently incarcerated, they have to return to Boundary County for the program.
The Sheriff’s Department now has an American flag outside with the pole being donated by the Idaho Forest Group.
Prior to Dave becoming sheriff, thousands of dollars went uncollected owed to the county by inmates and were just “written off.” In the last 45 days, more money has been collected than all of 2016 and during the past year, more money was collected than the last seven years total. Money owed to the Boundary County SO is now sent to a collection agency if not taken care of when requested.
Sheriff Kramer believes that a very important issue for him is the need for department training, and he has been working on improving this situation. Deputies attended tactical medicine classes through Boundary EMS. He recently arranged for some special training on the appropriate use of force by officers through a grant from the Rocky Mountain Information Network, a private grant in the amount of $1,100. Law enforcement officers in Bonner County were invited and participated in this specialized training as well. Bonners Ferry PD was also invited to participate. Kramer 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. Training for tactical medicine under fire has also been provided.
In addition to departmental training, he has informational training for teachers and parents regarding drugs. The narcotics officer provides an overview of illegal drugs, and specifically deals with Heroin, Opiates, Methamphetamines as well as prescription drug abuse and trends. A power point presentation is also available. There is also an Idaho Drug Free Youth program which the SO is involved in for the high school. This program promotes student involvement with team building, mentoring and leadership and high school students’ positive progress is monitored and encouraged. More information is available at: http://www.idahodrugfreeyouth.org/
The sheriff has filled two deputy positions in Boundary County, which the funding was “on the books” but not utilized. One position is a dual position which is used for detention and as a “floater” to fill in where needed. Even with the addition of the two deputies, Kramer finished the year under budget.
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. A goal of our sheriff, which he is working on, is a means to notify the public of the need for evacuation if a situation should occur where evacuation is necessary.
Dave put together his first crime prevention awareness program for our community last fall. He has set up a crime prevention information night on Thursday evening, March 15th from 6:00 to 7:30 pm at the Moyie City Council room. He plans to have more crime prevention presentations throughout the county. Everyone is encouraged to attend.
Our sheriff also arranged for a winter driving course held at Les Schwab and he said both days were full. He plans to have another one this fall.
A civil deputy is being trained. His vehicle will be marked and he will be in uniform so that there will be no mistaking that he is with the SO. His duties will include civil process, judgments, collections, eviction and as an evidence technician.
Crime labs are regional and under the auspices of the Idaho State Police. Evidence to be analyzed often takes 6 to 9 months due to a backlog.
Boundary County SO has received an $11,000 grant for the deputies to have body cameras which can be of assistance for investigations. These body cams are currently being used.
Life jackets are being provided by the SO for use by those that boat on the Kootenai River. Their use is on trust of the users to return the life jackets. Our waterways are normally patrolled with the use of reserve deputies. FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared Radar or Infra-Red) is being used for night navigation on the river when needed and especially important for locating those who may need rescuing. It is basically night vision technology using thermal energy. This technology was provided through a grant of $23,000 from the federal government. Dave is also certified as a Search and Rescue diver.
Two high risk heavy duty vests have also been obtained through a federal grant in the amount of $900. These will be used for high risk calls.
Some of Dave’s future plans include the following, with a concentration on dispatch:
- To provide a CAD (computer aided dispatch) system, which will also include record management, law enforcement data sharing, and an integrated response system.
- To dispatch not only ambulances when needed but the dispatchers would be able to provide basic medical information over the phone which should help citizens until medical assistance arrives.
- To have a dispatcher’s academy.
- To be able to provide stress debriefing after a major, critical or traumatic incident, which would include all law enforcement agencies involved as well as EMS, fire, and dispatchers.
- To be able to provide notification for evacuations to the public when needed.
- To move the offices that the sheriff’s department is currently paying rent on to the armory for a savings of $12,000 per year. Other uses of the armory are also being considered.
- For dispatchers to be able to receive text messages from the public, especially important when an emergency arises where cell phones don’t work but texting does.
- To have a back-up dispatch and command center should the occasion arise where the current dispatch center becomes non-functional.
- To institute an Eddie Eagle gun safety program which is a program with curriculum materials that are designed for children in Pre-K through Fourth grade. The Eddie Eagle staff recommends an activity book and sticker for each child as well as a Parent/Instructor Guide for every instructor, school or home.
Dave stressed more than once during our conversation that the Sheriff’s Department is not about him, but rather the deputies working together with the public to provide service and to listen to the community. He stressed the need for communication on all fronts and teamwork. He is setting up Crime Prevention Information Nights throughout the county. There is one coming up on Thursday, March 15th from 6:00 – 7:30 pm at the Moyie City Council room.
With that being said, I asked Dave about his involvement outside the Boundary County Sheriff’s Department. He is currently involved with the St. Patty’s Day Penguin Plunge which is where participants raise pledges and jump into cold water to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics Idaho athletes. This will be held on March 17th, registration at 11:00 am and the plunge starts at 12:00 pm, at the Search & Rescue Waterways Building. For more information or to register to participate, go to: www.idso.org under events. You can also contact Shannon at 1-800-915-6510 ext. 3 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Law Enforcement is the Guardian of the Flame and have raised over $54 million for Idaho’s Special Olympics.
Sheriff Kramer also serves on the North Idaho Crisis Board for management of the North Idaho Crisis Center located in Coeur d’Alene. More information can be obtained at: www.nicrisiscenter.org.
Dave also serves on the Idaho Jail Standards Committee.
He is also involved with critical incident evaluations when there is an officer involved.
And to finish off his week, Dave Kramer serves as security on Sundays for Mountain Springs Church.
It was a pleasure spending time talking with Sheriff Dave Kramer, who is Constitutionally grounded, pro 2nd Amendment, and understands his duty to Boundary County citizens as the top law enforcement officer in our county.
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