Facing budget cuts and fewer bodies, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is undergoing a wholesale restructuring this year, resulting in what Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich calls “a dynamic shift in the way we’ve done business in the past.”
Most “traumatic,” says Knezovich, is the total reorganization of the investigative unit by combining into one body the Property Crimes Task Force and the Investigative Support Unit, more commonly known as the drug unit.
Knezovich says the patrol deputies will help pick up the resulting slack in investigations, but the office will be limited in its ability to chase the same number of criminals it had previously.
“We’ll be focusing very heavily on career criminals,” he says. As for petty criminals, “we’ll be chasing them, but it’ll only be when they rise to a certain level.”
Because of a tight county budget this year, the Sheriff’s Office had $3 million sliced from its law enforcement resources. Knezovich says this cost him 19 positions — including two lieutenants, one sergeant, five detective corporals and four deputies — and forced the “total reorg of the agency.” And Sgt. Dave Reagan, who acted as the office’s main spokesman, has been put on patrol duty. Knezovich anticipates more losses and restructuring next year when the county expects to tighten its budget even further.
“We’re going to have to pick and choose the crimes we’re going to be investigating,” Knezovich says. “But our biggest concern is what we’re going to do Jan. 1, 2011.”