PUBLIC PROFILE: Jon Knapp, Candidate Josephine County Sheriff
With the loss of federal funding, Josephine County Sheriff’s Department has faced constrictive budgets, the type of funding when staff might consider collecting and returning empty cans for the extra dimes. There have been massive reductions of patrol hours, big staff cutbacks and a policy of catch-and-release for non-violent offenders to free up jail space. During these tough economic times, Dave Daniel has sat at the command; about as enviable job as captaining the Titanic. Why would anyone want that job? Perhaps even more unfathomable: Could two men actually be fighting for the position? The Messenger recently caught up with Jon Knapp, who challenges Daniel for the sheriff position in this November election.
Rogue Valley Messenger: Do you remember the day or conversation you had when you decided to become a candidate for sheriff?
Jon Knapp: I decided to run for Sheriff in Josephine County more than five years ago. I had been reading the local paper and listening to stories from family and friends while on my visits home and knew that something needed to be done to improve upon the current situation. I knew I had the qualifications and skills for this position and it was then that I decided that once I retired from my job with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (in Arizona) I would return home and run for Sheriff here in Josephine County.
RVM: Obviously, the sheriff’s office has financial problems currently. This seems like a thankless job. What is motivating you to do this, especially when you already seem busy enough with running your businesses?
JK: I am motivated to take this job because I have 18 years experience in law enforcement and over 30 years experience in administration and supervisory positions between the U.S. Air Force, the Salvation Army and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Some may consider it a thankless job, but there is satisfaction in knowing that you are providing a service that is needed and the feeling you have at the end of the day is thanks enough. I do own three small on-line businesses; most of my products are made and shipped to me, and I have one employee who makes a few products here in Oregon. I spend about one hour a day or less packing and shipping orders to my customers and if the business requires more time than that, my employee can handle the workload so that it does not interfere with my duties as Sheriff.
RVM: What have you learned from managing businesses that will most apply to being sheriff?
JK: Over the past 30 years I have had many opportunities to develop my management skills from employee and personnel issues to dealing with the public, fund raising, property upkeep and repairs and so much more. All of those things have helped me become a well-rounded supervisor and administrator. Running the sheriff’s office is similar to running a business as you have the personnel issues, budgets and community concerns, I feel my pasts experience have will allow me to take the sheriff’s office to a level it has not been at in many years.
RVM: You had a full career doing community work for the Salvation Army. Nearly 20 years ago, you started a different career, in law enforcement. Why did you make the switch?
JK: I greatly enjoyed my employment with the Salvation Army, but when I accepted my Commission I was single. Since then, I married and we had two children. As a single person it was easier to accept transfers and moves but once my children became of school age and had to leave their friends, family and schools every year or so for my new job locations it became clear that this was not fair to them. I decided I needed to accept a job where we could live in one place while they completed their education and so we moved to Arizona where my wife grew up and that meant leaving the Salvation Army and accepting a new job.
RVM: What compliment can you pay to the current incumbent?
JK: Dave Daniel has served his community for 20 years. It is not always easy and it takes a special kind of person to put on the badge every day. For that I thank him.
RVM: If you could only focus on one crime or one specific law enforcement strategy, what would that be for Josephine County?
JK: If I could only focus on one thing as Sheriff it would be to provide law enforcement patrol to the unincorporated areas of Josephine County that included patrol on the weekends and evenings. The tax-paying citizens deserve that and I believe the funds are there to provide that service; we just need to prioritize the budget and provide the most important services of the sheriff’s office with the limit budget that we have.