BY DONNA WESTFALL
“Bring trust back to the office.”
It goes without saying that each candidate interviewed is big on 2nd Amendment rights. They’re also aware and informed about the current buzz word of the day AB 109; the realignment. What is it that distinguishes Butch Lee from the rest of the pack?
“I’ve worked for Dean Wilson and his leadership is non-existent.”
Butch adds that he has served as a Marine, a police officer in Orange County and Crescent City, a gold miner in Alaska and currently works 12 hour shifts for the Yuroks.
I asked Butch exactly what he intends to do to reorganize the office of Sheriff if elected:
* I’d bring back the undersheriff and create a chain of command.
* I’d work with the prison system as trainers and save money there. That would save money from the Sheriffs training budget by training officers locally instead of spending to send them out of town.
* I’d create a work atmosphere that would teach my officers to treat the public better. I think the front office at the Sheriff’s Department needs to be retooled. Right now you have to pick up a phone to get anyone to do anything. There’s little human contact.
* I’d encourage alternative scheduling and perks to create a better working environment. A happy officer is one that would want to stay with the force and not use it as a stepping stone to the next better paying job in another community. Right now our officers are beat to death. There’s no relief. They’re fried.
“We’re got to treat the public better.”
Butch continues with, “The Sheriff’s office has lost trust with the public because they’re not handling calls. They’re not taking reports. They’re rude to the public. Their statistics are bogus because if you don’t take reports it wrongly reflects the actual number of crimes going unreported. I’d want to change all that. All of us should handle calls; I’ll be out on patrol. You won’t find me sitting in the office all day. I want to be visible and let people know who the sheriff is. We’re got to treat the public better because that’s who pays us and that’s who we serve.”
In addition, I’d save the department money by recruiting volunteers; reserves, seniors, and Vets to help out with dispatch and other things around the office and community. I’d want a retired attorney to review reports. I value the Neighborhood Watch programs and would work closely with them. I’d want grant writing to be ongoing. I’m in favor of the concealed weapons permit.
Let’s talk about Neighborhood Watch. I recounted my experience in Los Angeles during the ’60’s when crime was seeping into our community. The Neighborhood Watch program proved to be a very effective tool. The Police would attend our meetings and instruct us on things like: how to take a good description, training yourself to become more aware, locking up your home and car religiously, learning to handle a gun properly and realizing that handling a gun involves a psychological shift. That in owning a gun comes responsibility and the realization that you may kill someone someday. Butch Lee says this is the biggest hurdle to overcome. That’s why a responsive Sheriff’s office is so important.
While some may find his hopscotching around various law enforcement organization a detractor it was apparent to me that Butch took the good and the bad from each job and intends to bring those things that worked in other places back to Del Norte County. It’s clear that he loves what he does. He’s got a great homespun nature, the kind that makes you feel comfortable inviting him in to your home during a crisis and spilling your guts. And while he’s been shot at, he has never killed anyone in the line of duty or threatened to blow their brains out.
That’s a remarkable record.
What about your age?
I’m in excellent health. I firmly believe that with my experience I’m the best candidate for the job. I’d like to bring dignity back to the Sheriff’s office before I finally retire.