Kootenai County Sheriff Sues County Over 'Inadequate Funding'
COEUR D' ALENE, Idaho - The Kootenai County Sheriff says his deputies and staff are unable to efficiently do their jobs because their facilities and equipment are being properly updated. Now Sheriff Rocky Watson is suing Kootenai County over what he calls inadequate funding for his department.
Watson says he has been told for the past ten years the county is going to solve the capacity, staffing, and equipment problems within his department, but nothing has been done so the sheriff is planning to file a lawsuit in an attempt to get things resolved. He says the sheriff's department has completely run out of room to adequately operate and is in desperate need of improvement. He says most of their police cars need to be replaced, and they need to add more detectives to help solve crimes. Watson thinks the county needs to make sure mandated services are paid for before any money goes towards un-mandated services. The purpose of the lawsuit is to clarify the county's obligation.
"I finally want the court to tell us is there a requirement," said Sheriff Rocky Watson. "If there isn't a requirement then we'll continue to get along inadequately. If there is a requirement then let's take care of public safety first before we take care of the frills."
Kootenai County commissioner Rick Currie says they increased the sheriff's budget by $600,000 this upcoming year. They were one of only a handful of groups that saw an increase even though the county's budget reduced by $1.5 million. Currie says they are trying to provide all they can with existing tax dollars, but don't want to provide special treatment for one group over another.
The county commissioners denied a request by the sheriff to hire an attorney paid with public funds to represent his office. The court is now determining whether the commissioners have the authority to deny him an attorney. Currie says the reason they denied his request for an attorney is because "there is no reason to waste tax payer dollars to sue ourselves".
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