SPOKANE, Wash - Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich made a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners Wednesday in partnership with a jail consultant he's been working with for years, David Bennett.
The message they sent was loud and clear: our criminal system has to change.
Right now, no matter how hard law enforcement crack down on criminals (and repeat offenders in particular), there sometimes isn't room for them in the county jail, or if they do, the offenders are often back out on the street within a matter of hours or days.
Knezovich said that has to stop.
"We're going to come after you. That's the message [to offenders]. We're going to come after you and hold you accountable. That's what this entire system is designed on," Sheriff Knezovich told KHQ.
That ‘system' is a new model for giving criminals measurable, immediate consequences, rather than the evolving door. Bennett said in communities where such models have been enacted, crime rate have dropped dramatically.
But the details of the plan still need to be figured out, and there are a few hurdles to address before any changes would be effective, like more manpower within law enforcement, more jail beds, and more power in the hands of the prosecutor.
"Our current system is creating more victims. That needs to end. The residents of Spokane County need to be assured if someone's breaking into your house, that's going to be dealt with," Knezovich added.
He hopes to have some version of this new model up and running by March. At this point, he said the next step is he's inviting members of all local law-enforcement agencies to come to the table and get on board, because it will only be effective if the policy throughout the Inland Northwest is consistent.
And Knezovich had some tough words for any local agency that doesn't come:
"They can explain to the community why they're not at the table, they can explain to the community why they're not taking action. It's time to draw a line."