BEND, OR -- Deputy Eric Kozowski, candidate for Deschutes County Sheriff, released specifics Tuesday on reforms he plans to implement if he wins in November. "We can do much better and I believe we can be the best law enforcement agency in the state; and I will take measures to reform the current situation," Kozowski tells KBND News. "The three big areas I want to address are the issues of service delivery and the effect on community safety, fiscal issues that waste tax money and improving our communication with the public."
He says current staffing of one supervisor for every three employees is not a responsible use of resources, and he claims it’s impacting response times. "I know earlier in the year, a woman sat in the lobby of the Sheriff’s office in Bend, during business hours, for an hour, waiting to talk to a deputy. And, that’s because the one patrol deputy that was working the Bend district was out on another call in Alfalfa. Meanwhile, while she’s sitting in the lobby for an hour, there are numerous deputies, sergeants, lieutenants, captains in and around the office that could’ve helped her. But, they didn’t view it as their job to respond to calls for service."
To free up more staff to respond to calls and save money, Dep. Kozowski wants to reduce the number of supervisors. "I think we can realign some positions to move them from supervisory or management into service delivery. Certainly I want to take advantage of things like pending retirements to minimize the impacts to employees. But, it may ultimately come down to doing what I believe is best for the community, which may result in non-punitive demotions for a few people." The term "non-punitive" demotions typically means they would maintain supervisory pay while serving at a lower rank, according to law enforcement experts.
He also wants to revive the Citizens Academy and create a citizen advisory committee to improve communication and accountability. "Policing, in general, has done a poor job communicating with the public; and I believe the public has the right to know what their Sheriff’s Office is doing. Historically, I think we’ve done a poor job of keeping them informed. We can certainly improve that, significantly. I want to engage with the community, not just on the surface, but have an ongoing, two-way dialog so we can have this open, honest communication with the community we protect and serve." Kozowski claims the agency could better utilize social media and other forms of online communication that would allow community input on issues facing the agency.
Click HERE to view his presentation on ideas for the agency.
Deputy Kozowski has been with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office since 2010 and was a deputy for Wallowa County for six years before that. He's running against current Sheriff Shane Nelson
, who has worked for DCSO in a variety of roles since 1994.