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John Lovick: Sheriff should reach out to community
MARYSVILLE He has extensive experience with a badge and a gavel, and now John Lovick wants to be Snohomish County Sheriff.
A 31-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol, retiring as a sergeant in 2004, Lovick also has nine years as a state representative under his belt serving as Speaker Pro Tem. He is on the Aug. 21 primary ballot running against sheriffs Lt. Rob. Beidler and administrative bureau chief Tom Greene. The trio is hoping to replace Rick Bart, the 12-year incumbent who cant run again due to term limits.
Lovick believes the countys highest ranking police official has the most effect on how people feel about themselves and their community, and the safer people feel the more they interact, the more they get done and the more they enjoy themselves.
This race should be about quality of life, Lovick said. The sheriffs office can impact the quality of life more than any other elected official.
He said if he is elected he wont leave the county until he has had a chance to talk to all of the employees and groups serving the sheriff, to find out what they want and need to do their jobs better.
Ive learned my entire life by walking around and talking to people, Lovick said, referring to himself as a door-belling fool.
Im going to sit down with the people who are doing the work, he said. The sense they have is that its us against them.
That will change because he will instill the service mindset in the countys largest department by building a vision of public service among the staff. He said the sheriff needs to let people know he cares about them and then follow through. Besides building relationships with the public the sheriff also needs to build a sense of community among the various agencies that are all growing closer together as cities annex unincorporated regions of Snohomish County. Many of those annexations are prompted by calls for better police protection, according to Lovick.
The challenge is to reverse that, he said. We should have built more relationships.
Many smaller agencies could be sharing their limited resources, Lovick said, noting that many departments brag about their SPS special police stuff that they have little use for on a regular basis. That can be spread around to the benefit of all.
We all had so much of this stuff, but we didnt share it, Lovick said. Theres so much duplication in law enforcement. The taxpayers want to see us use their tax dollars more efficiently.
Like the other two candidates, Lovick said Bart did a good job putting badges on the road but those deputies now lack the critical support staff that help them chase down bad guys. Its easy for an elected sheriff to brag about putting 110 more officers on the beat but support staff are a harder sell nobody brags about how many more clerks they put behind department desks, Lovick said. But a leader finds a way to get things done and Lovick pledges to do just that, saying that 85 percent of the problems in a community can be resolved without the intervention of a police officer.
Community service officers are an option: non-commissioned workers who dont arrest people but who can perform a lot of the duties deputies now do; Lovick didnt provide specifics.
Instead he cited his long service to the public, first as an oil spill investigator for the U. S. Coast Guard and then as a state trooper. He said the state patrol has done a much better job of reaching out to the public.
We have to do a better job of marketing the agency, he said. Were going to be the best friend of the citizen and the worst enemies of the criminals. We have to let the public know that we care.
One way is to have a deputy adopt a school. Many times children see police officers in a bad light, particularly at domestic violence incidents. Why not have a follow up visit from a deputy to help erase the warrior mentality some communities harbor toward law enforcement, Lovick asked.
As a sergeant he supervised a dozen workers on average but as a legislator he has worked on policy and helped write laws.
Ive fought crime both as a cop on the street and as a policy maker in the legislature, he said. I dont think youll find anyone who has served the community as much as I have.
He often commuted to Olympia with a newly-minted state representative named Aaron Reardon in 1998 and said he has good knowledge of and relationships with the Snohomish County Council. He said he wont be fighting over who gets credit for what, as long as the work gets done. He doesnt mind Rick Bart fighting with the executive and Council over money. But you dont do it publicly, he winced.
You cant assign blame without accepting responsibility, he added, noting that several disputes between the sheriff and executive could have been handled much better. The key is to fight, compromise and negotiate for the long-term.
We are all here to get a job done, Lovick said.
As for the police officers and deputies unions, all behind Beidler, he wants them to know he has confidence in their members. The only candidate who is not working for the sheriffs office, Lovick said there will be no housecleaning or payback if he is elected. On the contrary, with him voters will get all three, meaning the experience of Greene, Beidler and Lovick.
You cant turn a big ship on a dime, he said.