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Idaho senators vote to add qualifications for sheriff candidates

Courtesy Kootenai County Sheriff's Office

The bill is aimed at stopping convicted felons from holding law enforcement offices.

An Idaho Senate committee has voted to add two new qualifications if you want to run for county sheriff.

The current rules require applicants be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen and resident for at least a year in the county for which they’re seeking to be sheriff.

The Idaho Sheriffs Association wants to add two new bullet points to the list: One, that candidates not be convicted of crimes that could lead them to be imprisoned at the state or federal level, and two, that sheriffs who are credentialed officers not have been decertified by a policing agency.

“This is just an effort to bring the standards for sheriff in line with the things that we ask our employees to be at," said Payette County Sheriff Andy Creech at a hearing Friday of the Senate State Affairs Committee.

"If our employees are arrested and charged and convicted on a felony, even if that is reduced down to a misdemeanor later, they will be decertified and we will not be able to employ them. The same standard should go true for the sheriff," he said.

The bill's sponsor, Twin Falls Republican Senator Linda Wright Hartgen says the current eligibility requirements are not enough to ensure candidates are qualified.

“Two years ago, our sheriff, who has been sheriff for several terms, well liked, good sheriff, had an opponentin the primary that is now sitting in a Colorado prison for murdering somebody many years before he ran for sheriff," she said.

Hartgen said that candidate didn’t win, but did collect about 1,300 votes.

That bill now moves to the full Idaho Senate.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.