Now in their second term, Sheriff Steve Harkins and Chief Deputy Fruehling have brought numerous innovative programs to the Blaine County Sheriff's Office. Here are a few of our recent accomplishments.
- School Liaison Deputies: This year we added two school liaison deputies to provide both Hemingway Elementary and the Carey School with a primary point of contact to assist with school-related matters. Neither school has an assigned School Resource Officer. The purpose of this position is to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships, facilitate communications, and coordinate activities between our department and the schools.
Patrol Training: As of June 1, 2023, our two patrol teams have completed a total of 1,226 hours of training on topics such as drug investigations, firearms, arrest and control techniques (ARCON), leadership, active shooter, domestic violence, and interview techniques. 751 of these hours were completed in-house and 475 hours were held outside our agency.
Rapid Response Training: Recent events across the country have taught us that not only must our deputies be trained and prepared for threats in schools, public places, and gatherings, but that these events can happen anywhere. This year we had five deputies attend the Active Attack Integrated Response Courses and become instructors in various subjects. This program addresses the principles and technical aspects of responding to and implementing an integrated first responder deployment to an active attack event. This response protocol is the standard for American law enforcement, fire departments, and emergency medical personnel and is proven to save lives.
Breaching Tools: We have purchased breaching tools for all our patrol vehicles to enhance our readiness for major events such as active shooters.
- Backcountry Patrols: Every summer we perform over 200 hours of backcountry patrols on US Forest Service, BLM, and public lands within Blaine County. These patrols include many of the campgrounds, summer cabin areas, and recreational trailheads. The focus is on backcountry safety, off-road vehicle enforcement, and welfare checks. Deputies perform these patrols using patrol vehicles, ATVs, and UTVs. The backcountry patrol program always receives very good feedback from the public we encounter. This program is a seasonal continuation of our winter snowmobile patrol, which has also been very successful over the last few years.
- Search and Rescue ATV: This year we were able to purchase a new ATV with a private donation to maintain our Search and Rescue equipment and readiness to respond.
- Ketchum Field Days: The Ketchum Patrol Team continued our long tradition of community involvement with our 12th annual Field Day at Hemingway Elementary School. We also brought our community and law enforcement together in our annual Bike Rodeo and Wagon Days events. Maintaining a close relationship with the public and our local schools has always been a priority. When schools, our community, and law enforcement work together, we can achieve positive outcomes.
- Going Green: The Ketchum Police Team ordered two new hybrid patrol vehicles this year to support the City of Ketchum’s green plan. Once the vehicles are delivered and fitted with law enforcement equipment, they will replace two aging vehicles and assist with the upgrading of our fleet.
- Hispanic Liaison Team: Our Hispanic liaison team continues to work to build relationships that increase trust between the police and our Spanish-speaking community, decrease the rate of victimization among the Hispanic community, and increase the number of those that report crimes. By attending community meetings and events, this team hopes to increase the frequency of collaborative interactions between law enforcement and the Spanish-speaking community, promote cultural competency training as part of a standard training program, and brainstorm strategies to reduce language barriers.
- Jail Inspection: We passed our annual Jail Inspection and are certified with the Idaho Sheriff’s Association in partnership with ICRMP and the Idaho Jail Standards again this year. The ISA Inspector continues to praise our professional staff and the management and cleanliness of our facility. We have established a reputation for being very respectful and friendly, and our ability to show patience when dealing with difficult inmates
- Community Connectivity: Social Media is a major part of our Community Outreach. We currently have almost 24,000 followers on Facebook, over 1,500 on Twitter, and 1,100 on Instagram. We communicate public safety information and operational services information to our citizens efficiently, effectively, and promptly to optimize public accessibility to county services and information. We are proud of our social media performance measurements from 2014 to 2023.