As of Wednesday, October 5, 2016
GRANGEVILLE In challenging the status quo, Carlos Martinez proposes a county sheriff’s administration focused on community service and accountability, along with improving the training and ability of staff to serve residents.
“I look at the sheriff’s office as a business, and the product we push is law enforcement,” he said, that needs to be conducted, “professionally, responsibly and courteously.”
A resident of Kooskia, Martinez is running for Idaho County sheriff on the independent ticket against two-term Republican incumbent Doug Giddings of White Bird, in the Nov. 8 general election.
Martinez, 39, has served as an Idaho County Sheriff’s Office (ICSO) deputy since 2009, as a patrol sergeant and most recently as jailer. His law enforcement background started in 1999 with the Grangeville Police Department – first as animal control officer, then as patrol – followed by six years with ICSO as patrol deputy, corporal and then with the detective division. For two years he served in Iraq, contracted as co-team leader to mentor the head of the Iraqi National Police Transition Team. In 2008, Martinez ran for sheriff against Giddings on the Democratic ticket, and a year later returned to work with ICSO.
“I see things that need to change; things I dislike or that I don’t agree with what they’re doing in the sheriff’s office,” Martinez said.
Martinez would want ICSO to better allocate patrol officers to improve service to communities spread across the county. For example, a complaint he’s heard from Riggins’ residents is the extended response time for a deputy to come from Grangeville; he would move one of those deputies to Riggins to address this. As sheriff, he said he would not have an undersheriff position, and instead would put that job into patrol to improve coverage.
“We have a really good group of guys who work for the sheriff’s office,” he said. “We can do a better job with getting our guys trained up to better serve the people of this community.” Deputies should be more diversified in training, such as in narcotics and traffic interdiction for drug detection, he said, so they are better able to handle and investigate the variety of cases they will encounter.
Martinez said morale within the department is at an “all-time low.” He wants to attract and retain quality officers, rather than the department serve as a feeder for those looking to gain experience to move on to bigger departments. He wants to fix hiring practices (reinstitute pre-hire polygraphs; have psychological evaluations and improve background checks), and address deputy salaries: work with the county commission on improving pay, and to change how overtime pay is handled to prevent overwork and abuse. On day one in office, Martinez would require training department wide to establish what is required of staff (deputies, jailers, office/dispatch), what the leadership philosophy is and expectations of the sheriff on policies and procedure and chain of command.
“We need to be getting a plan: what they want to do in their law enforcement career,” he said, “and getting them the training that will better support them and give better service to the community. It has to be mutually beneficial.”
“Overall the facility is aging,” he said, and specifically the jail is out of compliance with regulations on requirements such as cell space per inmate and recreational facility offerings. Such improvements aren’t cheap, he said, but a plan needs to be put together and put before the taxpayers, whether it’s on his watch or for the next sheriff to follow.
Some problems are internal. Among those, Martinez raised an issue within the department of misuse of county equipment; for example, ICSO staff and sometimes their spouses using the four-wheelers or Razor on their off-time or claiming it as part of emphasis patrols, and going hunting or using them to plow snow. Recently, the alleged use of a bulldozer and trailer by an ICSO deputy is being raised on social media; Martinez said he inquired on this and was told the use was authorized as the equipment was undergoing maintenance that it worked properly.
Outside the department, Martinez wants to repair its relationships with agencies in the county; improve lines of communication and sharing information. He would re-establish the Idaho County Sheriff’s Posse, put volunteers back in charge of search and rescue. Martinez would also plan to be in every community at least one day a month to meet with citizens, and he would establish a citizen advisory committee to take input and discuss issues.
“I want to work for the people and take this department in a direction that everyone can be proud of and rally behind,” he said.
Martinez and his wife, Melanie, a K-1st grade teacher at Clearwater Valley Elementary School, have been married 16 years. He currently serves as Clearwater Valley High School head wrestling coach. He was recognized in 2010 with the Idaho Medal of Honor.