20-09-25 new Ketchum police chief 2 WF.jpg

What’s your hometown? 

I grew up in Flint, Michigan, and moved to Idaho in 1993. The mountains and the outdoors brought me here—I enjoy fly fishing, snowmobiling, hiking. I started out in the Treasure Valley working as a detention officer at the Ada County Jail and came up to Blaine County in 2000. I’ve lived here and worked for the Sheriff’s Office ever since.

What drew you to the field?

I became a police officer to help people, do some problem solving and try to make a difference.

What will be your top five priorities as chief (in no order)?

I’d definitely like to build off Dave Kassner’s bike safety program for kids and the BCSO Lunch Program, where we have officers visit with kids over lunch hour at different schools in the valley. Dave did a phenomenal job and it will be hard shoes to fill! Of course, both those programs are on hold right now with COVID-19.

I’d also like to bring back a “windows down” style of patrol to Ketchum—I think it’s good to have officers talk and interact with residents instead of driving around in a box all day. Foot patrols and bike patrols have fallen out of fashion a bit.

I will also be encouraging team members to take on secondary positions in the valley, like joining Blaine County Search and Rescue. Snow patrol, marine patrol and ATV patrol are important for visibility—we’ve actually seen a big rise in four-wheel [ATV] crashes out on the trails. Personally, I’ve stepped back from my leadership role with Search and Rescue, but I still plan to go out on bigger avalanche calls.

Maintaining open lines of communication with the department, community and media is another priority.

Another thing is mental health. People going through crises, whether they have long-term mental health issues or are just having a bad night, make up a significant portion of our call load. Things are tough—there’s not really such a thing as “affordable housing” anymore, and there are very few mental health resources in Idaho. As officers, we don’t always have the best answers—we tend to be put in the position of offering band-aid solutions—so I think we’ll need to think out of the box more.

How do you propose addressing mental health issues?

The most important thing to me is being willing to understand what someone is going through and de-escalate situations. We don’t diagnose people with mental illnesses, but it’s important for us to understand various conditions. We are working on providing every officer with what’s called CIT, or crisis intervention training, and have had a little under one third of our deputies go through it. The goal is to have everyone get through it.

On a lighter note, what is your favorite…

Cuisine? Everything from homemade meatloaf to fine Italian.

Musician/band? I have wildly varied musical tastes, so picking one group is tough.

Sports team? Detroit Red Wings

Road trip? My favorite weekend trip is to Stanley. Road trip favorites include McCall, western Wyoming, northern Idaho, or anywhere I have not been previously.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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