Joey Kriete running for sheriff
Last updated 7/12/2022 at 9:02pm
Joey Kriete knows the ins and outs of Grant County law enforcement, having worked in multiple aspects of it for 29 years, and now he wants to be sheriff.
"I'm very passionate about the county," Kriete told The Star, describing his history in the county dating back to his great grandparents who ran a dairy in Ephrata.
"I believe I put myself on the career path to becoming the next Grant County sheriff and my track record shows for that," he said.
That track record includes serving as a patrol deputy, major crimes unit detective, patrol sergeant, motor unit sergeant, 10 years as the chief deputy of the jail, and currently the chief deputy of investigations, commander of a drug task force, major crimes unit, and traffic investigations unit.
Kriete said that he is the only candidate with experience on the patrol side and corrections side of Grant County law enforcement.
"I am fortunate to have successfully served hands-on in almost every area of the Grant County Sheriff's Office in my 29-year career," he states on his website. "This has provided me a thorough and working understanding of the entire operations of the Sheriff's Office in not only Leadership but also budgeting."
"During my time here I took great pride in every position I've had," he told The Star. "I'm proud that I never reached a burnout period in my time, never had a time in my career that I did not want to come to work. I'm passionate about my agency, the people that work in my agency."
"Challenges for law enforcement right now have to do with legislation that's out there," he said. "New laws for law enforcement changed the way we conduct business."
He described recent limits on law enforcement's ability to pursue criminals in many situations as resulting in people taking the law into their own hands.
"I worry something bad will happen before these [laws] are adjusted," he said. "People used to rely on law enforcement instead of themselves."
"We definitely have to learn to evolve and do things differently to be effective at our job," he said about the future of law enforcement. "I believe there are ways for us to do that, to be effective law enforcement officers, and I believe that we've made some good adjustments to be able to do that, to continue with training and education on these new ways of doing law enforcement to help better us as an agency and be able to serve the communities we are sworn to protect."
He described the opioid epidemic as a big issue facing the county, as well as the nation as a whole, and described it as a driving force behind other crimes, such as theft and assault, with drug habits driving those crimes.
"We need to get a handle on it the best we can locally," he said.
He said that a real solution needs to happen at the federal level, but that for Grant County, a "drug court" system is being looked at that can help those with drug habits become functioning members of society again.
That type of program can help provide people with stability and guidance in their lives so that their drug habit doesn't control them and lead them to committing crimes, he explained.
He also said that people with drug problems need to want the help offered to them, and that forcing the help on them doesn't work.
Recruiting more officers is key to giving more attention to more rural areas of Grant County, including the Coulee area, he said.
With fewer officers, the response tends to be more reactive than proactive, he said, and so more staff is needed.
"Our guys are serving the areas the best they can to cover the areas they can cover," he said, noting that Grant County is a large county in area, and the northern part of the county has a large number of miles for the limited number of officers to cover.
A part of attracting more officers is spreading the message that Grant County is a good place to live and work.
"We have a beautiful county with 300-plus days of sunshine," he said "and we need to make it more attractive for law enforcement officials. This is the greatest area in the state of Washington."
Kreite is running for the position against Joe Harris and James Baker in the Aug. 2 primary that will narrow the race down to two candidates before the Nov. 8 general election.
The Star covered Harris's campaign in the June 22 issue and the Baker campaign in an article last week. Kriete's website can be found at https://www.krieteforgcsheriff.com/.