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To my fellow Kootenai County residents:
I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and give you a recap of my first year serving as your Sheriff.
I took office on January 1, 2021 and immediately implemented several policies to better serve the residents of Kootenai County. They include:
First, I formed a clergy council and a citizen’s advisory council to create additional avenues of communication with me. We meet regularly and I consider each member a valued asset on how we can better serve our community.
Second, I have made myself accessible through community service organizations, Coffee with a Cop events and town hall meetings.
Third, I distributed protocols on how the Sheriff’s Office will approach mandates. I was sworn in to uphold the United States Constitution and specifically guided by the 4th amendment which states that a search or seizure of an individual shall only be made with probable cause.
A mandate by an appointed board is not a body of elected official’s sworn to defend and uphold the U.S. and Idaho Constitutions. I instructed my office not to enforce mandates, nor to use mandates as probable cause for any event.
I believe that a decision to seek medical treatment, including a vaccine, should be between you and your medical provider.
I have implemented a policy at the Sheriff’s Office that each employee should evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of any medical treatment and make an educated choice on what is best for them and their family. It is NOT a requirement to receive a vaccine to work at the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.
Fourth, calls for service are no longer seasonal. It used to be from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend we could expect an increase in calls for service due to the tourist season and better weather. That is no longer the case. Growth has caught up with us and activity has now passed our current service levels.
The time is now to decide what kind of growth will occur here in the County. Irresponsible growth will most certainly lead to more crime, more activity, and the need for larger jail and more staff. What we are watching across our country is horrific. A nexus to lack of consequences, lack of enforcement and defunding initiatives are to blame. As you Sheriff, I will not allow that to occur here in Kootenai. Period.
I would also like to touch on a silent epidemic that is now severely affecting our community: substance abuse. With Fentanyl playing a major role, overdose deaths are double what they were in 2020.
Drugs are pouring in from our open southern border and transported to distribution points in Washington, where they find their way here. It was not long ago that we found almost five pounds of Methamphetamine in the trafficker’s car here in Kootenai County. I can only imagine how much we don’t find being trafficked through our country.
For those afflicted with drug abuse, my experience has shown that external assistance is your best bet. That includes those who are dealing with a loved one who is suffering from substance abuse, including alcohol. It’s not uncommon for loved ones to inadvertently become enablers, thereby making the addiction situation worse. Many Churches and private organizations in Kootenai County have great outreach programs. Call one today!
We are fortunate to live in the great community with great people. I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year.
Robert “Bob” Norris