BEND, OR -- With six months still to go before the election, the fight for Deschutes County Sheriff is already getting heated. Deputy Eric Kozowski has cited recent internal investigations as evidence of Sheriff Shane Nelson’s lack of leadership, but Nelson tells KBND News his challenger is speaking out of turn. "That goes back to a lack of management experience, and the fact he’s talking about things he does not know all of the facts. And, that can be a slippery slope because that can create liability for an office." He adds, "It’s very inappropriate to talk about ongoing investigations."
But, Kozowski says he has extensive experience running a private business and managing several programs during his time with the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office, including the Marine Patrol. He tells KBND News he spent time "working to get additional funding to expand the program; managing the budget; hiring personnel and managing personnel, those kinds of things." He says, "I also rebuilt the Reserve program from the ground up, there. Then, of course, hiring personnel and managing them, as well; taking them through a training process – creating a new training process that didn’t exist, and then taking personnel through that training process."
Kozowski was a Wallowa County deputy for six years before coming to Deschutes County in 2010. "You were responsible for everything as a [Wallowa County] deputy. We didn’t have a Detective Division; we didn’t have Street Crimes. We did have a regional drug task force, but it was a small one. So, yeah, you were responsible for everything, from start to finish, there." Current Wallowa County Sheriff Steve Rogers did not return KBND's request for comment on Kazowski's work at the agency.