Tony Hawley

Tony Hawley (prefers Republican Party)

Describe your qualifications for sheriff

I have over 23 years of experience in nearly every aspect of the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office, including corrections deputy, patrol deputy, and the past six years as patrol sergeant. As a sergeant, I supervise four deputies, lead the county’s Special Response team and manage the Field Training program for developing and certifying newly hired deputies. I have obtained and managed several state and federal grants for the sheriff’s office and completed thousands of law enforcement training hours, and earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership in criminal justice, and a master’s degree in strategic leadership.

While campaigning for sheriff, what have you learned about the law enforcement issues that are most important to county residents?

The issues most often raised by the community are response times, drug abuse and related crimes, property rights, and gun rights. As a patrol sergeant, my squad’s deputies and I deal with these issues daily. As sheriff, I will focus my efforts on ensuring an efficient and effective organization that is responsive to community input about public safety.

How would you describe the relationship between the sheriff’s department and the community?

I feel the relationship is strong and improving, and that most of the community sees our efforts as service to the community. Our deputies and their families are members of our community and are dedicated to helping those in crisis and ensuring a safe place to live and work. It has been my experience that community members feel that deputies are approachable about issues in the community whether on or off duty. This shows me the community has a trusting relationship with our deputies.

From your experience in the department, what do you consider the most significant law enforcement issues facing the county, and how would you address them?

There are several significant issues that stem from a number of factors including the depressed economy of our area, lack of available revenue and resources to provide services to the community, and a lack of collaborative effort in key issue areas.

Although we have not had any major violence as other areas of the nation have, we as a community need to work to address the security of the schools to try to prevent a crisis before it happens. I will explore resources to assist our educators in making our schools safer, including a School Resource Deputy program, to bring opportunities for kids to have positive contacts with Law enforcement.

Drug issues are at crisis level and need to be addressed from a collaborative community effort. I want to improve the ability of the sheriff’s office to work on drug and related crime with a talented core group of detectives at the Narcotics Task Force, augmenting their efforts with experienced patrol deputies. I want to rotate patrol deputies through short terms at the task force to directly assist and learn more about the drug-specific investigations and local drug culture and networks. I support working with other organizations to help reduce the demand for drugs through support, education and treatment.

I will work with the community and the county board of commissioners to increase the personnel available for the sheriff’s office. A steady increase in drug and drug-related crimes, combined with increasing population outside our cities creates an increasingly difficult. Lack of proper staffing combined with the volume of calls and large distances in our county can make it difficult for the sheriff’s office to respond in a timely fashion to crisis or calls for service, or to conduct timely and complete investigations. An aging workforce will result in turnover in the next several years due to retirement-eligible deputies, creating risk of future staffing shortages.

The communications system utilized by law enforcement, fire, and medical across the county is aging. A plan to incrementally upgrade the system needs to be enacted and funded to support capable and responsive emergency services.

How would you describe the working relationship between the sheriff’s department and other local, state and federal agencies, such as Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife?

The working relationship between the sheriff’s office and other departments and agencies in our county could be stronger. We have close ties with the cities in our area due to our interaction and mutual assistance efforts, but relationships with state and federal agencies need to be fostered to better plan for and deal with problems across different jurisdictions.

How would you describe your leadership style?

My leadership style is a blend of transformational and situational leadership. I expect the best from myself and my team while allowing each member to contribute based on their experience, skills and abilities. I rely on a team-building approach using collaboration to ensure the best possible outcome depending on each situation. In the end, the decisions are my responsibility but using the strengths of the team to get there is just good business.

Your position on Initiative 940, requiring law enforcement officers to receive violence de-escalation and mental health training?

This initiative as written could be detrimental to public safety and law enforcement officers. It addresses situations which are already addressed by federal case law and statewide mandatory training, including interactions with individuals with behavioral health issues, first aid, and use of force. The most significant changes to law would be the adoption of a “good faith” standard and the addition of an independent investigation of uses of deadly force resulting in death.

The good faith standard seems to allow for a “backseat driver” to weigh the circumstances versus what the officer knew and acted on in the moment. In instances where deadly force results in a death, the investigation into the incident is conducted by an outside agency not associated with the one involved in the incident. This is already done to avoid a lack of objectivity and the appearance of favoritism. This standard makes it more difficult for a law enforcement officer to decide how to employ force when appropriate and to make it easier to decide to prosecute law enforcement officers who encounter deadly force situations.

The initiative mandates training but fails to address the funding of the additional training.  This could create strain on an already stretched budget.

Your position on I-1639, dealing with firearms background checks and other issues.

I do not support this initiative. Because we already have proper checks currently in place, only law-abiding citizens would be held to a restrictive standard that potentially infringes upon their constitutional rights. Those seeking to do violence would not be further deterred from their actions by the requirements enacted in this initiative.

Your thoughts on school safety, in light of the number of school shootings in our country.

We as a community need to apply more focus and energy to the safety of our children at our schools. I have been trained to evaluate the security of schools through the School Shield training program which helps me collaborate with schools to assess their environment and safety situation. I will continue to seek to bring this training to Okanogan County so more officers and deputies can become trained to evaluate our schools and work with the teachers and administrators. I will work with the schools to develop a School Resource Deputy program to provide a safer environment and positive contacts with law enforcement and our schools.

Steve Brown

Steve Brown (prefers Republican party)

Describe your qualifications for sheriff

I have a degree in criminal justice. I’ve completed first-level supervision, mid-level management, executive leadership and a graduate of command college from Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. I’ve worked as a patrol officer for the Colville Tribal Police Department from 1999-2001. In 2001 I was hired by the North Central Washington Narcotics Task Force as a detective. I was promoted to supervisor and eventually the commander of the Task Force. A little over three-and-a-half years ago I was appointed chief criminal deputy of the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office. I currently hold titles of commander and chief criminal deputy, overseeing the sheriff’s office field division to include field deputies and sergeants; I also oversee the detectives and supervisor assigned to the drug task force. I manage several budgets, funds, expenses and revenues from both the sheriff’s office and the Drug Task Force.

While campaigning for sheriff, what have you learned about the law enforcement issues that are most important to county residents?

While campaigning I have heard from a number of citizens who have similar concerns, the majority of those concerns concerning drugs, property crimes, private property rights and community relations with law enforcement. The statement, “it’s a simple trespass” isn’t so simple especially when it’s your property, and people expect a response from law enforcement.  All calls must be prioritized, and crimes of violence will always take priority over a trespass, however there will be a response even if the subjects are long gone prior to our arrival.

How would you describe the relationship between the sheriff’s department and the community?

I understand that the citizens want and deserve transparency from the sheriff’s office. I will hold quarterly community meetings. I encourage any community member who wants to know anything about the sheriff’s office, its programs, its budget, crime trends, complaints, praise or whatever it may be to attend these meeting, to ask those questions and to get answers from the sheriff. I believe the job of the sheriff is to ensure that all sheriff’s office members are there to protect and serve everyone in the county, regardless of race, gender, age, income, religious beliefs, etc.

From you experience in the department, what do you consider the most significant law enforcement issues facing the county and how would you address them?

Drug and property crimes go hand-in-hand and the issue goes deeper than just the drug dealer.  Property is traded or sold for drugs to support a habit. The problem cannot be solved simply by placing the drug dealer in jail. Some addicts commit victimless crimes such as paraphernalia or possession crimes. In those instances, opportunities should be given to individuals like drug court, treatment or other programs intended to help them change the direction of their lives.

I believe that justice should be served for those victims who have experienced personal crimes.  Having your home broken into, trashed, and personal possessions stolen is a very personal crime and people feel violated and helpless. These crimes should be investigated thoroughly and prosecuted aggressively. I will reinstate the property crimes unit that the sheriff’s office had in 2017. I will combine both the property crimes unit and the drug task force detectives in order to investigate those crimes.

How would you describe the working relationship between the sheriff’s department and other local, state and federal agencies, such as Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife? 

The sheriff’s office has always had a good working relationship with local, state, federal and tribal agencies. There are several programs in which a mix of these agencies come together in order to provide services to the county. Local, federal and tribal agencies have historically played a large part in the Drug Task Force. County, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies have put together kids’ fishing days along with cold water safety presentations for the youth of our communities. WDFW, county and local agencies have always responded to in-progress calls involving the threat to human life and safety.

How would you describe your leadership style?

My leadership style includes delegating, supporting, coaching or directing. Circumstances will dictate which of those four styles I choose or if I have to use a mix of the four.

Your position on Initiative 940, requiring law enforcement officers to receive violence de-escalation and mental health training?

I support the training requirements set forth in this initiative providing law enforcement officers with additional training on de-escalation and additional training dealing with mental health issues. I agree with the “good faith” standard in the initiative that a reasonable officer, in light of all the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time, would have believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious physical harm to the officer or another individual.

Your position on I-1639, dealing with firearms background checks and other issues.

I am opposed to Initiative 1639. I disagree with a number of sections, including the definition in of a “semi-automatic assault rifle.” According to this initiative, a 10-22, used for small game or target practice, would be classified as a semi-automatic assault rifle. To classify this as an assault rifle, subject to the same requirements as a concealed pistol permit, a background check and additional training is wrong. This initiative also could potentially criminalize a victim of a burglary if the burglar steals a firearm from that person and then uses it to commit a crime.

Your thoughts on school safety, in light of the number of school shootings in our country.

I’m a huge proponent of having law enforcement officers inside of schools. The presence of a law enforcement officer would discourage potential criminal acts at the school, but I believe it goes much further than that, providing a positive interaction. I want the youth of our communities to see past the gun and badge, to know that we care about them, that we believe in them. I want them to know that our job is not just putting bad people in bad places, but that we have a vested interest in their lives and future. I began an elementary school lunch program three and a half years ago when I was appointed chief criminal deputy with the sheriff’s office. This is the one thing I am most proud of and believe in this type of interaction with youth.