Friday, April 23, 2010

Dave Dykstra: Candidate for Sheriff

Republished from the Virginia City News:
By Karen Woodmansee (with her pohotograph)
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Dave Dykstra’s run for Storey County Sheriff started in 1998. After 21 years with the Las Vegas Police Department and seven with the Storey County Sheriff’s office, he decided to seek the top job. But illness in his family forced him to drop out of the race before the primary. Now he is looking to pick up where he left off.

Dykstra, 62, is the fifth candidate in the 2010 race for sheriff. He is running for two reasons, one, he doesn’t like to leave anything undone, and two, he was not enamored with the other candidates.

“There’s always that task that hasn’t been finished,” he said. “And I waited until the second week and wasn’t pleased with the candidates that had filed. I felt I was most qualified and wanted to offer my services to the people.”

He began his career in 1971 in the place where he was born and raised - Las Vegas. After 21 years he retired to Virginia City and was offered a “part-time” position as a deputy. “I was a full-time part-timer,” he said. “The first three or four years I worked between 30 and 60 hours a week.”

Since 1998, after his family member’s health crisis had passed, he worked as a contractor, owning his own business and taking on multi-million projects. He was also project director for Mono County, Calif., Public Works, where he managed a $3.2 million budget. In addition, he is an LPO with the Navy Reserves who was called up in 2001 and spent time in Fallon, overseeing 50 reservists and serving as liaison between them and the active duty staff, he said. Currently, he is a member of the Comstock Historic District board.

Dykstra said more should have been done to prevent the recent layoffs of five patrol deputies. “We have seven supervisors and eight deputies,” he said. “I would have looked at reducing everyone in rank. You might have been able to save a few of those positions.”

He said he doesn’t understand how the sheriff’s department has as many supervisors as they do. “When I was there we had 12 total to patrol the county, and we did pretty well,” he said. “I don’t understand why you need seven supervisors.”

He also suggested keeping part-timers and using reserve deputies when needed. If elected, he said he would emphasize “preventive patrolling by reinstating the resident deputy program in place under former Sheriff Bob Del Carlo. He said more time spent patrolling a community can prevent burglaries, vandalism, gang activity and other crimes. He praised Sheriff Jim Miller for his drug interdiction program, but said the department needed to become more user-friendly.

“You don’t see deputies out and about like we did,” he said. “The whole concept of law enforcement has been very defensive. Guys are taught in the Academy that the public is the enemy. That has to change.”

He would also like to have deputies eventually patrol on bicycles and motorcycles, to be paid for with grants. Dykstra said motorcycle officers would be better received by the public - especially during Street Vibrations. He thought there was too heavy a law enforcement presence a few years ago during that event, though he said it was possible intelligence dictated the situation.

“With motorcycles there is a psychological advantage,” he said. “Bikers like to see cops on bikes. You can temper a situation by having a bike officer respond.”

If elected, Dykstra would first sit down with his deputies, individually and in groups, to see what changes they think would be good for the county. Since they are the ones patrolling, they may have a better idea where the most need is, he said.
He would also rotate deputies in and out of the jail, to break up the monotony.
Dykstra said he felt that the sheriff’s department had been overly aggressive in traffic control. “To indiscriminately stop someone for going two miles over the speed limit is ridiculous,” he said. “I was there to stop people going 50 mph through town.”

He also doesn’t plan to have deputies watch the bars or cook up a reason to stop someone looking for DUIs. “If they haven’t driven erratically or you didn’t see them stumbling to their car, don’t pull them over,” he said.

He said when he was with the sheriff’s department and saw someone drunk heading to a car, he would just take them home.

Dykstra said he doesn’t like the word “proactive” when applied to law enforcement. He thinks a presence is enough to deter crime, and the absence of crime is the goal, not the number of citations given or arrests made. “There are too many heavy-handed tactics,” he said. “In a domestic, if no one is violent, they’re just having an argument, no one has to go to jail. Just see if one can go somewhere else for the night.”

Dykstra said in the possible case of a county official being pulled over or suspected of an offense, he would prefer a deputy call him and let him handle it, taking the onus off the patrol officer.

Dykstra supported creating an Animal Shelter at the Justice Center and having inmates care for the dogs and volunteers try to place unclaimed animals for adoption.

“A lot of this is not that hard,” he said. “I hope people vote for common sense, because that’s what I’m all about.”

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