With early voting in Nevada’s primary election beginning Saturday, Carson City residents learned more about some of the philosophies of candidates in the contested races during Wednesday night’s candidate forum hosted by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.
The Performance Hall of the BAC was a full house for the forum, with hardly an empty seat found for the first segment where the candidates for sheriff were questioned. The audience was reduced to about half after the sheriff’s candidate portion ended.
During the forum the four candidates for sheriff squared off on topics such as staffing, drugs, and budgets. There was one agreement among candidates when it came to the city’s intense crackdown with gangs over the past four years.
Ken Furlong, up for re-election as sheriff, said four years ago the city was facing issues with a growing number of gangs in town. Gang activity has since been virtually non-existent and it was the department and the support of Douglas and Lyon County law agencies and community organizations that were responsible for the success of the crackdown.
“When was the last time you heard about gangs in Carson City? The answer is four years ago,” said Furlong.
Disagreements came at other areas of the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, which has a budget of nearly $16 million.
A question was posed about how the budget has been justified given that the crime rate is going down.
Candidate Deputy Don Gibson said 12 positions were lost in the 2010 budget, and that the administration should have cut into administration more to pay for line level officers on the street instead of promoting a captain.
The money for the captain’s salary could have been split to pay for two patrol deputies, said Gibson. He said the nearly $16 million budget is a sufficient amount for the department to run on, but that he would allocate the money more wisely by hiring less administrators and more line level employees.
Candidate Sgt. Daniel Gonzales said he would not fill assistant sheriff positions if elected and would instead use the savings to pay for costs associated with the department’s aging fleet of vehicles and new technology. He said the administration side of the agency has become “top heavy” and that he would use the budget more creatively for better patrol vehicles and more officers on the street. He said he would look for creative ways to make cuts so that both middle schools would have police officers assigned to them.
The CCSO has a has a massive budget of nearly $16 MILLION DOLLARS!!! There must be transparency in this budget. These is waste in the CCSO and massive liability as Dan points out at 38:50 – CCSO needs the body cams to reduce the lawsuits and provide accountability.
Ty Robben Excellent idea by Dan at 31:24 to have the CCSO Deputies wear body audio/video cameras to help abate the rampant, wholesale corruption by some bad CCSO Deputies… They should also wear these in the jail too. Too many beatings and planted evidence and stuff like that with the CCSO. The cameras have help in notorious corrupt police departments like New Orleans and the LAPD. The CCSO has a corruption problem as Dan and the other candidates have discussed and the community is concerned about the police state, rights being violated and the cost of the lawsuits.At 30:55 Daniel Gonzales talks about inmate processing fees – what is this? why would an inmate pay a fee Mr. Gonzales? Where does all the money go from the $1.09 top Ramen you sell in the commissary at a 1,000% mark up along with the other junk food inmates have to buy to keep from starving? Lorne please bring this up, the CCSO makes big money off the inmates. The CCSO also get federal money or inmates too.
lorne Houle Very well spoken candidates!!! When I went up on stage, I couldn’t remember what to say… So instead, I kept saying “ummm” and “you know” WAY too much… lol. Great questions although I couldn’t answer some of them since I’m not yet part of the Sheriff’s Department and not privileged to “department drama”.
Candidate Lorne Houle said he would cut his own salary by half if elected, with cost savings to go toward more energy efficient police vehicles. He also noted there could be a cost savings in the department if cuts were made at the jail, placing more people on house arrest for non-serious crimes, thus freeing up jail staff salaries.
Furlong said in the last six months the sheriff’s office removed a captain’s position and back filled it with two deputies. It had an assistant sheriff retire and that position was not filled and a forensics position went from a sworn position to a non-sworn position. The agency has already done what the candidates are saying should be done, Furlong said.
He noted the Sheriff’s Office runs efficiently around 3 percent below what is allowed in the budgets. Furlong said the fleet of vehicles the department has have been maintained, saying “sometimes it is better to hold off a year,” when purchasing vehicles, because money could be better spent elsewhere.
Candidates were asked about what changes they would make to the department.
Gonzales said he would enhance what the agency has and take it to the next level. He said he would utilize the sheriff’s reserves more and noted that if the department is running 3 percent of the budget annually, than it ought to have better equipment. He noted that recently a canister of pepper spray that was used in the jail and had a stamp on it that said use before 2003. “We should be providing employees equipment to serve you better.” He also advocated the need for technology upgrades including body cameras.
Furlong noted changes are already being made at the department for next year. Management has been rolled back, due to retirements and attrition, countering a criticism earlier that administration had become top heavy. He said that half of the cuts from 2010 were not from the front line and that the supervisors do work as patrol officers as well. He noted the agency is running as lean as it can and will continue to run lean.
Gibson said he would like to see staffing go to 7 deputies on the street instead of the minimum level of 4 deputies. He said he would pay for the additional officers on the street by cutting adminstration-level officer positions. Gibson also said he would eliminate a numbers based management philosophy where there is a mindset that officers need to be writing more tickets, saying “it turns the very same people who we serve and protect into the victims of our production.”
Houle said he would strengthen the relationship in the community between the agency and the officers on the street. He said there are two groups of people, those who are friends of the department and those in the community who are nervous and skeptical of the agency. He said he represents those who are skeptical, and thinks officers give too many tickets and are policing the wrong people, including low level drug users. He said that drug users are not criminals but are treated like them, saying there needs to be more services for drug addicts instead of throwing them in jail.
Though there wasn’t a direct question posed, there was disagreement on the way the Sheriff’s Office special enforcement team is being run. Gibson, a former SET officer, noted the agency spends too much going after the low-level drug users instead of focusing on the bigger problem, the drug dealers themselves.
He noted that the department ought to be targeting drug suppliers because of the assets they have that can be seized. By taking the assets such as homes and vehicles, less taxpayer money would be spent on drug enforcement because the assets from drug dealers would pay for the SET team.
Gonzales said he would add another officer to the SET team. He said the SET philosophy is that the low-level drug offenders are typically the ones breaking into homes and businesses to pay for their drug habits and therefore it is essential to work to get them off the streets. He said the Tri-Net task force, which handles the high level drug sellers, needs to be held accountable for going after those with large sums of drug money.
“We know the drugs are coming in, let the people who focus on that do their job,” he said.
The candidates were asked about mental health and law enforcement issues. Furlong noted the city as well as the state and nation are dealing with issues of mental illness and policing and actively working on crisis intervention, which is being done in Carson City with mental health now incorporated into response plans. “We are working collaboratively with every agency we possibly can,” said Furlong.
Gonzales noted that he is a trained Crisis Intervention Instructor and he teaches staff. He said he would work to take the CIT program to the next level with mobile health units to better address suicide calls. Houle noted that drug addiction and mental illness are illnesses and that they should not be treated like criminals. He said mental health subjects should not be kept in jail but put in group homes where they can be given the help they need.
Nevada WatchDog · Top Commenter · University of Nevada, Reno“When was the last time you heard about gangs in Carson City? The answer is four years ago,” said Furlong. Sherif Furlong covers up crime in Carson City folks. He let off a felon with 60 loaded AK47 and AR15 machine guns that was running meth or the “gangs”… See Carson City Sheriff’s Office report details initial arrest that led to recovery of 60 stolen weapons here http://www.carsonnow.org/story/02/18/2014/carson-city-sheriffs-office-report-details-initial-arrest-led-recovery-60-stolen-we
Dana Lee Fruend · Top Commenter · Co-Owner and Marketing Director at Agency 36Great report! I read the information on each candidate, looked at websites, track records, listened to speeches, I really like Daniel Gonzales, great training, back ground, honorable and is truly out there talking to the people in the community. It is good to have terms of Office. the Sheriff has done well in the community, but so much more is needed. Police, Fire and EMS need funding to be there for them to truly do there job and provide the many services a growing community needs. Accountability, Consistent Training, Budget, VISION and planning…Daniel Gonzales has it all and he has my humble vote and support.
Ken Zutter · Citizen at United StatesThere needs to be a new sheriff in town. Twelve years is long enough, sixteen years in one political position to too long. We have term limits on other elected officials for good reason. Daniel Gonzales is the only other candidate with the policing and business experience to do the job. He is a proven leader and has served Carson City very well. He will make a fine sheriff. I encourage everybody to vote for Daniel Gonzales.
Furlong needs to go. Moral is down in the CCSO, corruption is rampant in the CCSO and public faith is low in furlong after 16 years. $16 million dollar budget for the CCSO? What about all those lawsuits I see against the CCSO… Let’s see the numbers and where the money is going.
Krae Waller · Administrative Assistant at Nevada Rural Housing AuthorityIs candidate Hule a former police officer? Has it attended POST Academy?
Lorne Houle · Great Basin CollegeI have military police training, which is MORE extensive than the POST certification here in Nevada… However, if elected, I am still REQUIRED to attend POST. The information I acquire from that course will be FRESH in my mind. I am looking forward to learning about the tactics the Nevada POST has to offer. FYI: I also went to the Orange County Sheriff’s Academy but voluntarily withdrew my status when the Sheriff of Orange County was brought up on corruption charges.