Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Ben Wolfinger

| April 27, 2016 7:16 AM


Ben Wolfinger

COEUR d'ALENE — Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said he is running for another term to continue moving the office forward. 

Wolfinger added that, in the three years he has served as sheriff, he has brought the level of professionalism up in the department while instilling a "servant's heart" attitude into employees. He said that on his first day in office, he told employees that he was going to raise the bar on who was hired and retained.  "And we've done that," Wolfinger said. "The vast majority of those people have risen with it."  The number one issue Wolfinger said he would like to tackle, if he wins another term, is attracting and retaining employees. During his tenure, Wolfinger said he has built a partnership with the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners that has substantially lowered the amount of job vacancies at the office. "We're hiring and retaining a lot more people and that's a good thing," he said. "That raises the quality of service to the public." Another top issue Wolfinger would like to address is the county jail. He told The Press that, during his tenure as sheriff, the demographics of the jail have shifted from primarily misdemeanor offenders to felons. "We have to have more jail space," he said. "Felons take different housing. I can't just put them in dormitories." Wolfinger added that the jail is close to its daily population limit, and he sees the issue of creating more space as primarily one of educating the public on the need. The commissioners, he said, have taken the first step toward addressing the issue by looking at architects who could draw up plans for a new jail."We have to do something with it," Wolfinger said. "As this community continues to grow, the issue is not going to go away." Finally, Wolfinger said he hopes to continue to address an issue that he and his deputies address everyday — burglaries and theft. The office is "always a little behind" when addressing those crimes, which Wolfinger said are primarily drug related. "Heroin has come into the area," he said. "We're starting to see it more and more in the area. Combating that, and the related crimes that go with it, is a daily issue that we have to address." When asked why residents should vote for him, instead of his challengers John Green or Tina Kunishige, Wolfinger gave three reasons: his experience, knowledge of the job, and passion to continue working the job. "I know where we've been and can see where we need to go," he said. "I love what I do and have a passion for serving the public."

Age: 54

Residence: Coeur d'Alene for 34 years

How long have you lived in Kootenai County: 36 years

Married: Yes, to wife Mary

Children: Two sons, 32 and 29

Highest level of education completed: Associate of Science degree in law enforcement 

Profession: Sheriff, law enforcement for more than 30 years

Civic groups and/or nonprofit boards: Board of Directors for the Western Sheriff's Association, Rotary Club, Crisis Center Board of Directors, North Idaho College Law Enforcement Advisory Board of Directors

Volunteer work: Teaches Sunday School at his church, active with Safe Passage, Union Gospel Mission, and supports Hospice of North Idaho



Staff Writer

Paid for by Committee to Elect Ben Wolfinger