Election Guide: Amazi for Sheriff

Published 10:28 am Friday, October 29, 2010

Terese Amazi is the incumbent candidate in the 2010 race for Mower County Sheriff

Q. With Mower County’s new jail set to open soon, what makes you the best candidate to oversee the new facility? What will be some of the keys to operating the jail efficiently?

A. I have had over six years of jail experience as a line staff member. When I began my career in law enforcement at the Lewis and Clark County Jail in Helena, Montana, the jail was in transition from an old jail to a new facility. I experienced that move from a jailer perspective. Some keys to operating an efficient jail are:

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•Schedules are key to efficiency. We are working with union representatives to develop the best schedule possible. Staffing plans must be approved by the Department of Corrections, prior to the jail opening.

•Working with and training current staff in a direct supervision jail and;

•Using the technology of the new facility to minimize staff whenever possible without jeopardizing public as well as staff safety.

Q. Illegal immigration has been a significant issue in Mower County. How do felony forgery charges and potential deportations affect sheriff’s department?

A. Illegal immigration is an issue for investigators in the sheriff’s office. The crimes of welfare fraud and felony forgery are increasing. Individuals charged with felony forgery spend a lengthy time in jail in many cases. In the past two years, the demographics in the jail have changed. About two years ago, the jail was 20 to 30% Hispanic in population. Today Hispanics account for nearly 50% of the jail population. Much of this is due to forgeries. When convicted, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) will then deport many of these individuals, but not until a conviction. This has a large impact on the jail budget.

Q. Crime rates are up locally, what techniques can you as sheriff implement to reduce those numbers?
A. Active patrol can have an impact on crime rates. Any proactive measures, such as the “Drug Drop Box”, may have an impact on drug crimes, although this is difficult to measure. Drug crime investigation will continue to be a priority.

Q. With Mower County facing continued budget concerns, are there any ways you could operate the sheriff’s department more efficiently?
A. Budgets are continually monitored. New schedules have been implemented and will continue to be evaluated to ensure they are saving money. The County Board has recently signed a new medical provider contract in the jail. Having a medical area in the new jail was key. An alcohol detoxification policy was recently changed, with the new medical director signing off. Cost saving measures, in all areas of inmate healthcare, are expected. Constant monitoring will be done to ensure this is the case. Since 2004, the sheriff’s office budgets have been $700,000 under budget. The County Board approves budgets. Those budgets are never allowed to be inflated for unforeseen costs. Additionally, I partnered with the State of Minnesota on the radio project, saving Mower County taxpayers $440,000 on a radio tower and building. I will do my best to continue this trend.

Q. What skills do you have that you think are unique and make you stand out as a candidate?

A. I have 24 years experience in law enforcement. I have numerous years of jail experience in different facilities. This is important with the new jail about to open. Meeting with supervisors on a daily basis is important in this transition process. Relationships with other agencies and support services are critical in opening the new jail and running it efficiently. Developing and maintaining relationships are critical in all aspects of the sheriff’s office. I continue to build good working relationships with many different departments and agencies. I have also worked in all areas of the sheriff’s office; jail, patrol, use-of-force training deputy, undercover narcotics deputy, investigator, Chief Deputy Sheriff, K-9 handler and elected your sheriff in 2002.

Q. What other issue or issues are important to you as a candidate, and what policies do you favor in these areas?
A. Currently all sheriffs’ offices through the State of Minnesota are working with a company to standardize policies of the sheriff’s office and jail. Mower County is participating in this as well. With all sheriff’s offices and jails operating with the same policies, most litigation should be minimized.