Sheriff candidate questionnaire: George Kynett
Name: George Kynett
Occupation: Current compliance officer at the Great Falls Pre-Release Center, previously 22 years at Ryan’s Grocery Warehouse as supervisor/manager, and 28 years at Cascade County Sheriff’s Office as reserve deputy & detention/transport officer
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Q: Why are you running for sheriff?
A: I have 28 years of previous experience with the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy, as well as 22 years working in the private sector at Ryan’s Grocery Warehouse as supervisor and manager. The combination of experiences has given me the leadership skills to effectively run and manage the Sheriff’s Office for Cascade County.
Q: What do you consider the top three challenges for the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office?
A: The top three challenges in my opinion are employee retention and advancement, restarting the inmate worker program to help reduce the jail population, and providing more services to the county especially those that are currently being undeserved.
Q: What do you believe is the role of the sheriff in Cascade County?
A: I believe the role includes building strong trusting relationships and fostering positive partnerships between the members of the community. It’s also important to create transparency so taxpayers understand where there money is being spent.
Q: If elected, what would be your initial priorities? What would you do to accomplish those goals?
A: I would review all reports that came into the Sheriff’s Office in the past two years to identify areas of concern to determine where the most needed priorities in the community are.
Q: If elected, what would be your approach to addressing drug/alcohol addition problems in Cascade County?
A: I think the best approach is to do a mass media blitz style attack on the public showing just how bad the addictions not only effect the person, but the rest of the community members as well. That would be followed by providing information where individuals could go for help, or call to start an intervention or treatment.
Q: What approach do you think the CCSO should take to address overcrowding at the jail? Do you believe the jail needs to be expanded or do you think there are ways to reduce the jail population through other means?
A: I think the jail population can be reduced by restarting the inmate worker program, which I worked as a supervisor for two summers. These workers pay their own work comp fees and go home at night to their homes, avoiding additional costs to the jail. Also adding a second 24/7 center and using additional jail alternatives like the treatment courts or services at the transition center can help reduce jail overcrowding.
Q: What role do you think CCSO and law enforcement should play in crime prevention and how would you accomplish that?
A: I believe we will need to build a new detention facility within the next 10 years due to the rising population in Montana. The Montana State Prison will not be able to hold all inmates and pay to house inmates in other facilities located in the state. This will give us the opportunity to gather additional income for Cascade County and create more jobs.
Q: How do you think the CCSO can improve community relations? In your opinion, how can the community help law enforcement keep the peace, (i.e. neighborhood watch, calling in tips vs. vigilante justice)?
A: I’d like to divide the county up into four areas, with the sheriff, undersheriff, captain of operations and a lieutenant each having responsibility over a section. Each area would be assigned more deputies from both shifts with detention officers helping out.
This will help to create positive community relations and reduce the communities being undeserved. Also the Sheriff staff will become more familiar with the different areas and resources to use in all areas.
Q: Since a major responsibility of the sheriff is the budget, how will you be a good steward of the taxpayer’s money?
A: While employed in the civilian sector I gained experience and a vast knowledge of working with budgets. I would review my budget monthly with the County Commissioners for guidance to ensure I am doing the best I can using taxpayer monies.
Q: What do you believe is the appropriate staffing level of the CCSO to meet the needs of Cascade County? What resources would you need to make changes?
A: Staffing levels need to be increased due to an exploding jail population. I’d like to see at least 90 detention officers and 45 or more deputies if we are to succeed with the inmate worker program and provide services to the undeserved communities. And lets not forget the County Courthouse, which also needs security.
Q: How should the CCSO work with other agencies such as the Great Falls Police Department?
A: It’s imperative we all work together to create positive working relations. Working together can help us all to solve crimes quicker and to better protect our community members. I will use any resources available to me to help protect the community.
A: How do you think CCSO can address mental health issues related to crime and those in the criminal justice system?
A: Sometimes it’s very hard to determine if a person with bizarre/aggressive behavior is having a drug reaction from new clandestine designer drugs hitting the county or suffering from a mental illness. We’ll need advanced training and mental health professionals available 24/7 to provide guidance for the office when dealing with mental health issues.
Q: Any additional comments on your plans if elected (but please be concise)?
A: I look forward to the challenge of becoming Sheriff for Cascade County. I’d like to start new programs including the division of the county to prevent underserviced areas and reinstate the inmate worker program to help reduce jail population. I would also like to start a replacement for the past DARE program. I would target children around 9-10 years old to say NO to tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Talking with inmates over the many years it appears that around 9-10 years old is when they are offered cigarettes, then later followed by alcohol, then drugs. My plan is to eventually introduce the program into the school systems, and hopefully we’ll see the pay off later down the road.