Kamholtz challenges Spike for Sheriff's Office

Staff reports
Ronald Spike

Incumbent Yates County Sheriff Ronald Spike is being challenged by Kenneth Kamholtz.

Spike, 62, has been sheriff of Yates County since 1992, currently serving his fifth term. Previously, he was chief deputy, sr. criminal investigator, investigator, deputy and marine patrol officer. He is a graduate of Monroe Community College with further education through several organizations including the FBI and Pelletier Institute on county government at Cornell University.

Additional information is available at his campaign website at www.spikeforsheriff.com

Kamholtz, 49, has an associates degree in social science and a bachelor’s degree in business management/finances, criminal justice and social science. He served in the U.S. Air Force.

Additional information is available at his campaign website at www.yourhometownsheriff.us.

Candidates responses to questions posed by The Chronicle-Express follow

Why are you running for Sheriff?

SPIKE: It has been my goal to provide progressive and positive leadership to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Yates County while seeking new and innovative programs to enhance the safety and security of county residents and visitors. I want to continue to work hard with my staff to achieve cost efficiencies and the highest level of service possible through crime prevention and community policing. I have been honored to serve as the Yates County Sheriff. It has been an awesome opportunity for public service in my 40-year career, and my desire to serve the people is as strong as ever. I desire to continue leadership of an agency where the good men and women who work 24/7 are its best assets. Over the past few years, our office has achieved professional accreditation status in most all areas, which means we adhere to contemporary standards for police and public safety work.  I want to maintain Accreditation Certification because it increases the effectiveness and efficiency utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible, promotes increased cooperation and coordination among public safety agencies, ensures appropriate training of personnel, sets fiscal responsibilities, and promotes public confidence. Having achieved this recognition has aided greatly in attaining grants, and has reduced the cost to the county taxpayers of liability insurance costs by 15 percent.

KAMHOLTZ: I have the knowledge, experience and qualifications necessary to initiate the transformation of  the Sheriff’s Department from a rigid, para-military organization into an ‘organic’ malleable organization that embraces change as an everyday part of life that will make us a better public service organization. Also, to implement the proven management methods summarized in the next question. Limited government and reduced spending is a priority with me.

What are your goals for the next four years?       

KAMHOLTZ: I would like my goals to be framed in business jargon; Mission, Vision and Values.

Specifically, Implement the transformation process over the next four years following a timeline and benchmarks that point to success. Mission, who we are. Vision, where do we want to go?  and values, What kind of employees, leaders, servants, and managers are we  going to be?

The first year will be used to gain control of the stampeding budget and slow the  growth of the Sheriff’s Office. It will take time for the employees to get used to the servant-leadership style. There will be in house training on ethics, leadership, supervision, follower-ship, workplace violence among other human resource topics.

I will spend exhaustive amounts of time and effort to gather information, statistics, and data to analyze the organization mission, vision and goals for the next three to four years and empower the first line employee to voice opinions and offer solutions.

Through employee retirement/attrition, I will reduce the number of upper management positions by not funding the  position of Chief Deputy;  

I will reduce the Investigation Division by one position. I will reduce the number of road sergeants from five to four by filling a sergeant retirement vacancy with the civil deputy/road sergeant.  The position of civil deputy/road sergeant will be filled by hiring peace officer at less pay.

We will work closely with the corrections leadership and employees to review processes for improvement, efficiency, and labor saving duties. Teams will be established to manage special projects, measuring outcomes and recommending improvements.

I will review the cause and effect of these changes. After due analysis and under support from the budget facts I may approach the legislature to fund another Deputy Position for better coverage and reduction in overtime costs that are causing fatigue, rise in expenditures, and may affect quality of service.

Years two and three will be spent reviewing, processes, improving improvements.  Continued instruction in the improvement process, Leadership, management, supervision, and workplace culture. The special services of the YCOS will be placed under a microscope. This process may begin as early as the first year, just depends.  The method determining cost vs. benefits of a particular specialty service, i.e. bike patrol, dive team, etc will be based on data that includes, training costs, equipment costs, man-hours, number of times the service has been utilized, the successes and failures of the specialty service.  Whatever else  the project Team may require for analysis of cost v benefits.  The final outcome will be based in part by costs. There may be a case when the costs of the service are higher than the perceived benefit. In the interest of the common good, although expensive the service might be retained.  Each service program will be looked at through  the same process of measures. They will also be reviewed every so often to maintain control of costs, benefits and needs.  No program will be left to its own devices.

They will all be measured, dissected, categorized and scrutinized for retaining, removing or implementing improvements.

Year four will be working to establish numerous persons who are capable and qualified to be the next Sheriff, continue the momentum of the budget constraints and frugal use of County Resources. I will work congress to lobby for a Sheriff Election that is not affiliated with any political party specifically. The current process prevents otherwise good people from the ability to candidate. It removes the choice from the people and keeps the power of appointing a successor in the hands of the political elite.  

This is a brief over view. Obviously there will be incalculable numbers of things to do. The Grant funding game is to the YCOS as a credit card to an individual.  It starts out fine. Controlled. After a while one becomes a slave to it.  That is how I see Federal Grant Funding.  Grants revenues are built into the current budgeting process as accounts receivable.  Grants, special funding should have its own ledger apart from the budget and not included with the budget forecasts.

I will personally review all opportunities for federal and state grants and will not be seduced by the lure of the federal government bearing gifts. Grants like credit cards may have a short term benefit. It’s the long term cause and effect Will need to be carefully considered.  

More research at    www.yourhometownsheriff.us  and 12 manage.com have great resources for understanding the”...seven ancient secrets to managing productive people,” The Way of the Shepherd, Leman & Pentak, (2004)

SPIKE: Achieve accreditation certification for the Yates County Jail operations; be re-accredited in law enforcement services, 911 dispatch, civil process, and court security. Obtain grant funding for install of video teleconferencing regarding jail operations, inmates, etc., for cost savings to budget and personnel. Install video and audio recording equipment for taking voluntary statements from suspects; initiate a citizen’s police academy and a citizen’s advisory council. Continuance of partnerships with several organizations and enhancing community services for improving quality of life issues in Yates County including next generation 911; NIXLE community alert messaging; summer camp for kids program; victims notification program; SWEAP program with inmate community labor aiding many non-for-profits and local governments and fire departments; Jail credit card bail system; sex offender registration and web site tracking; child passenger safety seat program; welfare fraud investigation; mental health nursing at jail; Eddie Eagle gun safety education to youth; aviation emergency response team; school resource officer and prevention program instruction; National Safety Council to focus on crime prevention and safety involving the elderly and youth focusing on bullying in the schools and dissemination of education materials by the schools; Mennonite bicycle safety education and expand to safe buggy operations; enhance education to motorist on slow moving agriculture vehicles; NYS child ID program availability; work studies and internships with area colleges and BOCES for youth; critical incident debriefing program; forensic crime lab services for county, and at no cost to village of Penn Yan, increase TAKE-BACK drug programs; support alcohol free prom nights with area schools; safety and boater’s education on our waterways; maintain medical AEDs in all patrol cars;  jail chaplain and council of churches advocacy and literacy volunteers in the jail; amber alert readiness, Victims Impact Panel for DWI offenders; adoptions of dogs with the Yates County Humane Society, and victim advocacy with Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes and continuance of the Employees Suggestion Program.

What is the biggest threat to public safety in Yates County, and what are your plans to address it?

SPIKE: Two issues immediately come to mind:

1) I am very concerned over recent issues with drug abuse, especially misuse of prescription meds and increase use and sale of heroin in this county. Our deputies and CID units will continue to be vigilant in pursuing drug dealers and will work with other agencies in making apprehensions and seizures of drugs, etc. We will continue to seek information on our tip hotline, and we will continue to take back old, unused prescription meds in order to reduce the risk of theft or abuse and reduce environmental hazards.

2) Radio communications non-interoperability is another public safety issue when police, fire departments, and emergency medical services cannot directly communicate with each other efficiently. I intend for Yates County to be a charter member of the Finger Lakes Regional Interoperable Communications Consortium and seek grant funds for purchasing radio communication equipment such as scanning portable radios for all public safety disciplines and seek FCC mutual operating frequencies in the event of a disaster or major critical incident. I will continue strategic planning for needs at radio towers with base radios and microwave system and explore regional partnerships for costs savings to the taxpayers.

KAMHOLTZ: A Sheriff's Department growing beyond the ability of the taxpayers to support it.  A management by proxy scheme through Accreditation. The employment of archaic organizational management philosophies that don't work in the light speed changing world of information technology, and redefined cultural norms commonly known as the Millennial generation. Being in a continual state of reactive management without a short term and long term business and financial plan cannot succeed.

What steps can be taken to assure local taxpayers that Sheriff’s Office spending is managed well in Yates County?

KAMHOLTZ: If you are talking about grants as the outside sources it is as I said in the other  answer. A budget should not include outside revenues as revenues but as accounts receivable.

These monies are good to have but should never be calculated in with a budget forecast for the next budget cycle.  Sort of like ‘found’ money. Good to have but don’t live beyond one’s means.

As part of the zero-based budget strategic financial plan I will publish a  quarterly report on the Sheriff’s website.  Every three months a “State of the  YCOS Report” will be publicized.  Feedback and comments will be solicited from  the taxpayers.

SPIKE: I do understand that these are tough economic times. The legislature, budget officer, treasurer and the sheriff work together being costs conscious with the taxpayer’s dollar. The county has the sheriff administer eight of the 12 public safety budgets, and in these fiscal times this has its challenges, so efficiencies, mandates, audits, and goals must be constantly reviewed while being mindful of the public’s and officers’ safety.

To that end, we strongly value partnerships and communications with community entities, and seek out grant opportunities, and other revenue sources to offset the county budget whenever possible. In the last few years we have obtained $468K in grants, and last year received over one million dollars in revenue to offset the budget and give taxpayers relief. I seek cost reductions and seek revenues whenever I can. The first obligation of government is to the public safety of its citizens and in meeting that mission we must always remember that a public office is a public trust.

Ken Kamholtz