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Sheriff's race

Stutsman County Sheriff candidates, Chad Kaiser, right, and Liz Kapp.

The term "community" comes up when speaking with both candidates for Stutsman County sheriff.

"What I'd like to see is us more in communities," said incumbent Chad Kaiser. "We are better now, we've made changes, but I think we can improve that. Instead of reactive, I want to be proactive."

Kaiser points to recent scheduling changes with deputies now working 10-hour shifts as one of the changes he's implemented. The scheduling change allows the deputies to spend more time on the streets and roads in their assigned area of the county, he said.

Challenger Liz Kapp said comments made to her while campaigning show a problem with rural law enforcement.

"I've visited and campaigned a lot in the rural areas," she said. "The feedback I'm getting is they're not seeing law enforcement in their community patrolling, that the response time is slow."

The Stutsman County sheriff's race will be decided Nov. 6. The department is made of 12 deputies and two office staff and is responsible for 2,300 square miles of territory. The position has an annual salary of $66,469 to $87,704.

Both candidates want to see more interaction between law enforcement officers and students in the five rural schools in Stutsman County. A Jamestown Police Department officer is assigned as a school resource officer to schools in Jamestown.

"To my knowledge, I don't believe there have been any education programs in the five schools of Stutsman County in over eight years," Kapp said. "One thing I would like to implement is adding a school resource (officer) into Stutsman County school systems. They would spend a day in each school during the week and provide educational training."

Kapp said funding for a rural school resource officer could come from state programs and county funds.

"There has been a big push in schools," Kaiser said, in reference to the department already accommodating rural school requests for officers. "We've always worked with the schools. We've been in contact with the schools. Not too long ago (we) started a project Stand Up, an anonymous text to tip line ... some of the schools would love for you (deputies) to come in and do a walk through. We already do it, we do talks with the history and civics classes."

Kaiser said some recent drug cases, based on arrests by a deputy that has since resigned, were thrown out of court. This has prompted the sheriff's department to review its policy, although the drug patrols are continuing.

"(It is) new in this area," Kaiser said, referring to criminal interdiction or the process of selecting suspicious vehicles for stops and searching for drugs. "Since it is so new it's getting everybody up to speed and trained and knowing what criminal interdiction is about ...there are a lot of working parts to it. It all starts out with an officer making what they believe is a good stop. It goes from there to charges, and any charges being pressed goes through the state's attorney. The state's attorney decides if they think there is enough evidence to bring charges."

Kapp said the bulk of the responsibility rests with the sheriff.

"As a leader, as a sheriff, you should be reviewing those reports," she said. "Making sure your officer is using good decision making. If there is a problem you should consult with your state's attorney."

Kaiser said he anticipated no staff changes and only small procedural changes within the department as an effort to keep up with the changing laws and techniques of law enforcement if re-elected to his third four-year term.

If elected, Kapp said she would work with the department to meet her goals.

"If I have a deputy who is not working with me in my vision and going against what is good for the community, I would try to correct that issue," she said. "If it's not being corrected, and that deputy is not willing to work with my vision of what's good for Stutsman County I will address that in a disciplinary setting."

Kapp was terminated from her position as a Stutsman County deputy by Kaiser in February 2016. When asked to discuss her termination she said wanted to but declined, saying she wanted to state it her own words. She plans to release further information later this week.

Kaiser is seeking his third term as Stutsman County sheriff. Kapp, who is employed as director of campus safety at the University of Jamestown, received a sufficient number of write-in votes in the June primary election to be placed on the ballot.

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