26 March 2014

Jake Petersen - Candidate for Salt Lake County Sheriff

First Meeting, 25 March 2014

I met Jake Petersen at the same meeting that I met Steve Nelson.  They both strongly endorse one another, and honestly, Steve's endorsement of Jake is what keeps my ears open.  I was very impressed with Steve, but I remain unsure about Jake.

For the most part, Jake comes off as a bit naive and idealistic.  Throughout the evening, he fell back onto stories of his childhood regarding hard work, e.g. his mother making him dig trenches, to outline his principals of small government, a more personalized police force, and more efficient use of funds.

There wasn't much discussion of what Jim Winder is doing "wrong" or what Jake could do better.  The only comparisons were offered by the delegates and they were all ad hominem in nature.

Mr. Petersen did express some ideas that I'd like to hear him elaborate on somewhere down the road.  The first he mentioned was that public in-person contact between officers and citizens needs to be increased.  The police force leans more heavily on phone calls and other technology to perform their jobs more efficiently, but Mr. Petersen feels this ultimately decreases trust between citizens and law enforcement.  He feels like the default response should be in-person contact and that phone calls, etc. should be the exception.

He feels there is not enough focus on impaired driving.  For example, he states that there is no dedicated DUI police squad for Salt Lake County and that this should be changed.

He feels there is not enough focus on getting reformed criminals back on their feet and back into society.  At the very least, Mr. Petersen says that those who have committed crimes should receive a phone call from an advocate on a monthly (or periodic) basis.

He feels that there is a need to expand the community service program so that it is a greater part of a criminals reformation.

There was some discussion about ankle bracelets and non-violent offenders.  Both Mr. Petersen and Mr. Nelson (at the meeting together) advocated that the Corrections Facility should ideally only house perpetrators of violent crimes (okay, ideally, it would be empty but you know what I mean).  Mr. Petersen stated that an ankle bracelet costs $19 a day whereas a night in a cell costs $72 a day.  Currently, the sheriff's department places perpetrators in jail (when the statute merits it) by default and does not consider the option of placing them in an ankle bracelet instead.  It wasn't clear to me if Mr. Petersen would need to encourage legislation to make that an option for the sheriff's department or if it is currently just a matter of policy.

In the last few minutes, Mr. Petersen was asked what he felt the current office was doing wrong, and he mentioned two things.  The first was that there is currently a lot of pressure applied by the Unified Police Department on small towns and cities to join the unified force.  He feels like this would relinquish the local control that this town or city has over law enforcement, and they should seek it out if they want it instead.  The second was fleet maintenance.  As I understood it from him, police cars, etc. are maintained internally at an internal rate of $90 per hour, regardless of the service being done.  Mr. Petersen feels that the office should allow the fleet to perform simple maintenance (oil changes, etc.) through private businesses where it is cheaper.

For now, Mr. Petersen has a lot of ideas, but I get nervous about how much he wants to add and how little he wants to take away in exchange.  This may just be my impression, so I will wait and see how the next few weeks unfold.  I wonder how many of these ideas he will actually be able to execute on before the end of his term.

Also, while I don't like mudslinging, etc., it is important to me to understand why I should "fire" Jim Winder and put Jake Petersen in his place.  It was a lot of fun to imagine a better world there with Mr. Petersen for a few minutes, but why is he more capable than Mr. Winder at executing on it?