COEUR d'ALENE - A former Texas deputy turned criminal justice lawyer is running for Kootenai County sheriff.
John Green, 52, is seeking the office's top spot as a Republican, aiming his campaign on finding solutions to ease jail crowding other than building a new facility, increasing deputy financial compensation as well as street presence as a crime deterrent, and supporting legislation to allow deputies more leeway on public intoxication calls.
"The position of sheriff, I think, is most crucial to restoring confidence in public government," Green said. "We need 100 percent transparent, accountable government. That cannot happen without a sheriff who is committed to open, transparent government."
Green has 10 years of law enforcement experience in Texas, with 300 arrests, most for felony violations, that he would bring to the post, he said, as well as 20 years of practicing law.
He would pursue other avenues for jail space rather than building a new facility, such as using existing county buildings, possibly even tents, to house inmates if it proved to be effective.
"We have to live with the facility that we have and that's going to call for some tough decisions," Green said. "Tough decisions like who is going to be locked up, and for how long."
Pursuing legislation for a public intoxication statute, similar to one in Texas, would allow deputies to hold intoxicated people for a short time rather than arrest them. That could ease deputies' workloads and jail space, he said.
"I'd draft the legislation myself and propose it," he said.
The office should also partner with other agencies and departments to invest in rehabilitation and treatment programs, instead of keeping non-violent offenders locked up.
"There are probably a lot of people in jail where the officers should have used their discretion not to make an arrest in the first place," Green said. "I can't control what the other agencies do, as sheriff, but I can certainly control what sheriff deputies do."
Green moved to Rathdrum in 2006. He ran unsuccessfully for sheriff twice in Texas, as well as for the Idaho District 5 Senate in 2010.
As a private attorney, he specializes in Internal Revenue Service tax law, often contracting as an educator for IRS agents and lawyers. His senate campaign called for eliminating the income tax in Idaho, a tax he called "misunderstood" and overreaching, but he said he is not anti-government.
Cases he's been involved in have questioned the reach of federal positions, he said, but he's defended the government as well, including in a Medicare fraud case against a provider under the Federal False Claims Act, which recovered $16 million.
He said the sheriff's office is "top heavy," and reshuffling high-up administrative positions would help the office pay its deputies more, as well as increase patrols.
Kootenai County is a relatively safe place, he said, and many burglaries are crimes of opportunity that could be prevented with increased patrol. Deputy visibility is an important deterrent.
"Immediately there is a physiological impact," he said of criminal behavior when they see law enforcement. "Especially when it's on a random basis, if there's no pattern."