Budget cuts, gangs priority for sheriff candidates
All three candidates for sheriff told an audience Thursday they see battling gangs as a top priority if elected.
Incumbent Kenny Furlong, trying to become the first Carson sheriff ever to win three terms, said he has done much to reduce the impact of gangs while reducing drug use in the community. Bob White and Bob Guimont – who both work for Furlong – said they would do more.
The three faced an audience of about 100 in the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored candidate forum at the Carson Nugget.
Each candidate faced three prepared questions offered by the Chamber as well as audience questions. The two top vote getters in the June primary will face off in November for the non-partisan office.
In our current economic times, public safety, along with other city departments, must make cuts across the board. How do you propose to balance the need for a safe community with the possible continued cuts in funding?
BOB GUIMONT: “If taxes don’t increase, we’re going to have to look at cuts.” He said he has already told potential administrative staff they would “make less than a lieutenant makes.” He said other changes might be eliminating “take home” vehicles and shift changes.
BOB WHITE: Called for a program of hiring recently retired officers at a lower hourly rate and no benefits. He said that would cost the city about a third what a full-time officer does. He also called for renting out some jail beds to the federal government to generate money to offset cuts.
KENNY FURLONG: Said he is actively seeking federal and other grants to help with some costs. He said he has brought in some $3.5 million in grants since becoming sheriff and has six applications pending now. He said he has already made cuts and is operating at about 60 percent of authorized staff.
The negative presence of gangs continues to be felt in our community. What can be done within the law to suppress gang activity and discourage future gangs from relocating to Carson City?
FURLONG: “We must aggressively attack gangs at every opportunity.” He said that means not only law enforcement, but education and prevention. “The ways to combat gangs is at every level, not a singular one.” He said that includes extending outreach to schools to catch potential gang members early, which he said his task force is doing.
GUIMONT: “You have to get to these children early – in elementary school.” He said he would work with the district attorney and judges to make sure the cases he brings them “are what they’re going to accept.” “The courts, DA’s office and sheriffs have to operate as a team.” He said right now, not enough is being done to stop gang activity.
WHITE: Said there are 34 gangs and 504 documented members in Carson City. He said there are only 38 gangs operating in Washoe County. “For us to have that many is unacceptable.” He said he would target the leaders of gangs to “send them to prison for long periods of time.” He also called for education and mentoring programs to keep kids out of gangs.
Personnel costs continue to rise. Do you think it is viable for the Sheriff’s Office to create its own revenue stream such as charging booking and inmate fees? What other opportunities would there be to supplement the general fund appropriation now received?
WHITE: “It’s always better to pay for your services without tax dollars.” He said renting 10 beds in the jail for federal prisoners could generate $300,000 a year in revenue. He also supported the idea of charging inmates rent and imposing booking fees on them.
GUIMONT: Supported rent and booking fees but said, “sometimes people do not have the money for these fees.” He said, however, he would charge repeat offenders for such things as multiple towing of their vehicles. He said the city should also get into commercial vehicle enforcement, generating money from trucks and other such vehicles.
FURLONG: Said charging inmates fees is “very strictly controlled” and can only be done to non-indigent inmates. Philosophically, he said, “I do not believe in passing costs off to you” for such things as towing and responding to alarms. He said he doesn’t want anyone to ever think they are being stopped just to generate revenue.
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