Wolfinger seeks Kootenai County sheriff position - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Wolfinger seeks Kootenai County sheriff position

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Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 12:15 am

After nearly three decades with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department, Ben Wolfinger said he is ready to tackle the county's highest law enforcement position.

"It's time to step up and be a leader," said Wolfinger, a major with the sheriff's department who has filed to run for sheriff.

Wolfinger pointed out that since starting with the sheriff's department in 1983, he has worked in every branch, including jail, patrol and detectives.

He was promoted to captain in 1995, and appointed to major in 2009.

"I've had the opportunity to serve in all aspects of the department and managerial aspects," said Wolfinger, 50. "That broad experience has taught me not only how the department works, but how it interacts with all avenues in the community and the criminal justice system."

As sheriff, he would increase that interaction with members of the community, he said, "bringing them in so they know what we're doing," and allowing the department to better understand public concerns.

He would also try to improve relations between the sheriff's department and the county commissioners, he added.

"It's no secret the commissioners and the sheriff have not had a harmonious relationship," Wolfinger said. "That certainly can be worked on, and it benefits everyone. It benefits employees and the public, and does the best service to the community."

The Republican candidate recognized that the overcrowded jail continues to be a pressing issue. He noted that the county is spending tax dollars shipping inmates to other facilities in the state, primarily in Lewiston.

Pursuing a jail expansion would be a decision that falls onto the commissioners, he said.

But Wolfinger would recommend that over what the county is doing now, he said.

"We also know the public has spoken pretty loud the last couple of times," he said of the last two times voters struck down initiatives to fund such an expansion. "If they say 'We're not going to try that,' hey, that's fine. We'll have to work on where we house inmates in other facilities."

Wolfinger has a law enforcement degree from North Idaho College.

He also served five years on the Coeur d'Alene City Council, and was chair of the board of directors for the Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce.

"Community involvement is huge, because you can't work in a vacuum," he said. "That's where you learn whatever people's concerns really are."

He has two grown sons and lives with his wife, Mary, in Coeur d'Alene.

"Bottom line, I bring a North Idaho perspective, North Idaho values of integrity, common sense and service," Wolfinger said. "I think that's important."

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  • CClavin posted at 11:52 am on Fri, Apr 13, 2012.

    CClavin Posts: 221

    John Green is a joke, come on how much actual experience does he really have.

  • Michael Alexander posted at 10:51 am on Thu, Apr 12, 2012.

    Michael Alexander Posts: 93

    After hearing Wolfinger, Hutchinson, and Green, last night at the tea party patriots forum, there is really only one who would make the best sheriff, and that is John Green! He has years of experience in law enforcement, as well as having a degree in law. He is the only one who has worked in all areas of a sheriffs department. He would bring real good change to our community and will uphold the law while not crowding the jail.

  • capnbutch posted at 8:50 am on Thu, Apr 12, 2012.

    capnbutch Posts: 729

    Sagecreek (below) has a great idea! Anyone who runs for sheriff or takes any law enforcement position should join Oath Keepers. A very good idea that will help stabilize law enforcement everywhere.

    Thanks, Sagecreek, for the reminder.

  • taxpayer posted at 5:56 am on Thu, Apr 12, 2012.

    taxpayer Posts: 343

    wrong person for this job

  • JonUSMC posted at 5:41 pm on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    JonUSMC Posts: 98

    Wolfinger has been around a long time and has been involved in many complicated cases- The Groene murders for one. I have worked at the sheriff's office with both candidates and have found Hutcheson to be immature, arrogant, disrespectful and unprofessional. Wolfinger has dedicated his efforts and talent to our local community by remaining with the sheriff's department all these years.

  • CClavin posted at 2:53 pm on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    CClavin Posts: 221

    I have lived here since 1967 and seen various sheriffs come & go. From what I have seen of Wolfinger I like. I think he has the knowledge & background to do the job.

  • chouli posted at 2:02 pm on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    chouli Posts: 1283

    just say NO to the status quo.
    we need change.
    we need perspectives.
    we need a sheriff from outisde this area that can bring new ideas and order.

  • Yellow Jacket posted at 10:16 am on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    Yellow Jacket Posts: 15

    No way, he be-littles people and suffers from little man syndrome, Only one good enough for the job is Keith Hutchenson!

  • Justthree posted at 8:56 am on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    Justthree Posts: 68

    Ben Wolfinger is running as a Republican?

  • Old Hayden posted at 8:49 am on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    Old Hayden Posts: 33

    Ben Wolfinger would be an excellent sheriff and bring years of experience to the job. Take politics out of the equation and Wolfinger is the best choice hands down! The other candidates were other places, doing other things while Ben was here serving and protecting the citizens of Kootenai County.

  • CdaOpa posted at 8:33 am on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    CdaOpa Posts: 9

    I agree with Jeffrey. As a retired city Police Officer, I have seen many commanders come and go. The only time anything changed for the better and did not stay the same, was when a person was chosen from the outside. Kootenai County NEEDS such a person. If we want the KCSD to experience changes we need a new and fresh face. Sheriff Hutch!!

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 7:44 am on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    All we need is a go along to get along as Sheriff like wolfinger would be. Fresh blood, perspective and attitude is needed, not same old same old.

  • Sagecreek posted at 7:30 am on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    Sagecreek Posts: 30

    I'd like to see Ben, or all of the other candidates for that matter, join Oathkeepers if they're going to run for Sherriff. http://oathkeepers.org/oath/

  • capnbutch posted at 6:16 am on Wed, Apr 11, 2012.

    capnbutch Posts: 729

    I have known Ben since he was in his teens. He is superb.

    I don't think he is capable of doing anything mean or rude. He seems to discover needs and to adjust for them without fanfare. I doubt that he will ever be in a situation of inter-office conflict.

    Outside of the rhetoric of campaign rhetoric, I think Ben's life can be considered quiet success.

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