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On the issues: Sheriff

Stutsman County Sheriff candidates Chad Kaiser, left, and Elizabeth Kapp.

The Jamestown Sun begins its "On the Issues" election series today. Candidates in contested local races will answer questions "on the issues."

Featured this week will be candidates for Stutsman County Commission, Stutsman County sheriff and District 29 Senate and House.

Incumbent Chad Kaiser and challenger Elizabeth Kapp answer five written questions. Kaiser is seeking re-election to Stutsman County sheriff and Kapp is seeking her first term after a write-in campaign to put her on the ballot in the June primary election.

Chad Kaiser

Age: 46

Professional occupation: Stutsman County Sheriff

Immediate family - spouse or significant other; children: Wife, Amber; children Cruz (12) and Mia (10)

Education: school attended/graduated; degrees and majors: Wimbledon-Courtenay High School, Wimbledon, ND, graduated 1991; University of Mary, Bachelor of Science Athletic Training, graduated 1995

Professional or personal memberships (i.e., clubs, church, professional organizations) (limited to 5): Vice President of the North Dakota Sheriff’s and Deputies Association, board member of North Dakota Association of Counties, El Zagal Shriners, Knights of Columbus, Elks Club

Elizabeth Kapp

Age: 48

Professional occupation: Director of Campus Safety at the University of Jamestown.

Immediate family - spouse or significant other; children: Husband, Bradley Kapp.

Education: school attended/graduated; degrees and majors: Graduated from the Peace Officer training program at Lake Region State College (formerly UND Lake Region) in 1992.

Professional or personal memberships (i.e., clubs, church, professional organizations) (limited to 5):  Vice President, Safe Shelter Board of Directors; North Dakota Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4, North Dakota Peace Officers Association, Zonta, St. James Basilica

  1. What would be your greatest priority during the next four years if elected or re-elected sheriff?

Chad Kaiser: Once re-elected as your Sheriff, my priority is to continue moving forward with the mission I’ve set forth and maintained over the past eight years.

Working for you, Stutsman County, with full transparency, accessibility, honesty, and integrity; all while abiding by and upholding the law as written.

My mission is to provide Stutsman County with the highest level of safety and security, while working hard to alleviate tax burden for services the Sheriff’s Office administers to our communities.

My hope for the future is to provide more positive opportunities and outreach programs to our youth, in affiliation with our existing organizations, to create constructive options to limit legal issues and arrests, while maintaining the budgetary guidelines set forth by our Commission.

Ensuring productive futures for the next generation through the efforts of the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office is one of my highest priorities.

As a father, I share the same concerns when it comes to crime and drug abuse in our area, which is why I continue to work so hard to address these issues.

Elizabeth Kapp: My greatest priority for the next four years would be to restore educational programs in the five rural schools in Stutsman County. This would include prevention/awareness programs such as: drugs, alcohol, violence, bullying, cyberbullying, suicide, and active shooter.  This would require adding a School Resource Officer who could spend a day in each school. Having a School Resource Officer would develop excellent relationships with students and education staff from each town. I think it is important for the rural towns to feel safe; therefore, the Sheriff’s Department would be present in their communities on a regular basis. I would encourage all deputies to get to know students, teachers, clergy, business owners, young adults, and elderly, alike. I would have a high expectation of treating fairly everyone from all social classes.

  1. What do you think is the largest crime problem in Stutsman County?

    Chad Kaiser: The largest crime related problem our office deals with is addiction and the illegal activities committed by those who suffer from addiction.

Our office has seen an influx of methamphetamine abuse, and we are working hard to address this problem. However, addiction isn’t just about methamphetamine. Addiction encompasses all levels of substance abuse that negatively affects our residents.

Our office can’t undertake this issue alone; we depend on the work of our State and local services to assist us in addressing addiction.

I’m committed to developing these programs and services and working with our community to hamper addiction through prevention and rehabilitation to avert repeat offenses and deter the potential for youth to partake in behavior that leads to substance abuse.

A majority of addiction issues begin at home and at a young age. We, as a community, need to address the situation immediately and encourage our neighbors to reach out for assistance if substances become a problem. Together, we can avoid preventable criminal charges, in turn saving taxpayers the cost of prosecution and imprisonment.

Elizabeth Kapp: According to the North Dakota Department of Health survey, “Larceny’” was the highest reported crime in our county in 2016.  Depending of the type of larceny, I would recommend a heightened patrol concentrated in affected areas.

Also, through visiting with some people in Stutsman County who use, or used to use drugs, I learned that meth is still the drug of choice. Opioids and heroin are not far behind.  It would be my intent to keep open lines of communication with those affected by drug addiction, and to assist them in finding the resources necessary to help them. If I, and our deputies, can find any way to be proactive in addressing this epidemic, we will.

  1. What do you consider to be the biggest issue or need in the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office? What is the best way to address it?

Chad Kaiser: Stutsman County deals with a serious obstacle when it comes to the number of Deputies we can afford put on patrol to better serve our communities.

The size of our county in relation to the population creates a funding and logistics issue.

Our land mass, just short of 2298 square miles, is much greater than that of neighboring counties, such as Cass and Burleigh, and our population is a fraction of those counties.  

This creates a dilemma in regards to our services to cover our entire county.

I have trained our Deputies to “wear many hats” in order to better serve you. The situation may not be ideal, but we make it work.

Ideally, I would like to hire more Deputies and offer outreach to schools and our outlying towns, but financially we can’t make this a reality until our population and tax base increases.

My goal is to continue researching grants that become available on the federal level to create new opportunities and increase funding for law enforcement and emergency services throughout Stutsman County.

Elizabeth Kapp: The biggest need for Stutsman County is the reduction of the budget by cross training the Stutsman County Correctional Center employees, Sheriff’s deputies, and the reserve deputies. This could be a cost effective use for courtroom security, prisoner transports, and special assignments. I would empower each staff member to select an area that interests them in order to give back to each community. I would like staff to build relationships with people struggling with addiction in order to make inroads on this critical issue. I would also like to see them develop relationships by talking about the effects of alcohol or drug abuse and addiction, and by providing an officer’s point of view. I would encourage more involvement with the Sheriff’s deputies in other programs, such as: the Cops and Kids Program, Freedom Walk, and Law Day.  

  1. A deputy resigned in August following the dismissal of a drug bust case; several more cases were dismissed following the first. What, if anything, should occur to prevent these types of situations in the future?

Chad Kaiser: The dismissal of these major drug trafficking cases, coincidentally right before the election, was the result of the inability to effectively communicate and argue the use of Criminal Interdiction in court proceedings.

All Deputies at the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office, along with law enforcement agencies across the State of North Dakota, receive extensive training on a series of investigative techniques known as Criminal Interdiction.

This training was developed by seasoned law enforcement officials, in partnership with Federal Agencies such as Homeland Security and ICE, to assist local and state level officers in identifying dangerous criminal organizations and individuals that utilize our highway and interstate systems.

My hope for the future, to prevent the dismissal of major trafficking cases, is to encourage our state prosecution teams to become more familiar with these Federal investigative techniques, allowing for greater confidence arguing cases in support of the State of North Dakota and to better understand the extensive training our law enforcement officials receive.

Additionally, I plan to expand training for my Deputies to improve their Criminal Interdiction techniques.

Elizabeth Kapp: To prevent circumstances like those described in the question, I would provide additional training in the area of how to develop probable cause to conduct a traffic stop. If a deputy lacked probable cause to pull over a vehicle, and did, and made an arrest, I would explain the mistake to the officer. I would also consult the State’s Attorney for legal advice. I would include a written reprimand in the deputy’s personnel file. If a deputy was caught in a lie testifying and  found by a District Court Judge not to be credible, I would send a report to the North Dakota Post Board, which sets the standards and training for Peace Officers in North Dakota. I would let them determine if the deputy violated the Peace Officer Code of Conduct. If they decided to revoke the deputy’s license, I would adhere to their ruling and terminate the deputy to protect the rights of citizens.

  1. Why should voters choose you for sheriff?

Chad Kaiser: I believe voters should choose me, Chad Kaiser, for Sheriff because of my dedication to the schedule and responsibilities required to hold this position.

I am committed to be actively involved in all elements of this office, and to uphold my oath while doing so.

Morale is currently at an all-time high between our Sheriff’s Office and every level of local, State and Federal Law Enforcement, first responders, BCI, corrections, administration, and governing bodies throughout our State.

I have spent the last eight years working to develop these healthy relationships and maintain effective communication between all agencies and organizations throughout our County.

My experience, leadership, and success has allowed me the opportunity to pursue new channels to assist with the funding of our department, by writing and receiving Federal and State level grants for advanced technology, equipment, and department training.

My goal is to insure the best interests of Stutsman County residents are always addressed legally, safely, securely, and with fiscal responsibility. Saving and properly utilizing your hard earned money is something I take seriously.

Elizabeth Kapp: My experiences, integrity, and trustworthiness qualify me to be Stutsman County Sheriff.  I have 28 years of diverse law enforcement experience including being a correctional officer at county and state levels. I was a Pre-Sentence Investigator for the North Dakota Parole and Probation Office, and have worked for the Jamestown Police Department. I was a member of the Special Operations Team (SWAT).  As a Stutsman County Deputy, I rose to the rank of Sergeant, and was in charge of the Civil Process Department. This included service and management of judgements, liens, levies, subpoenas, evictions, and Sheriff sales on foreclosures. I also was selected by the North Dakota State Board of Civil Process to be an Instructor. I taught Sheriffs and deputies the rules and procedures of civil work. I have served as the Director of Campus Safety for the University of Jamestown since 2016, and I have gained knowledge and experience managing staff and budgets, as well as reporting fire and crime statistics.  Currently, I am Vice President of Safe Shelter Board of Directors.