Idaho sheriff takes aim at WA ahead of July 4 holiday travel
Jul 3, 2023, 11:10 AM | Updated: 5:20 pm
(Photo courtesy of Kootenai County Sheriff's Office)
Kootenai County Sheriff Robert Norris said in a statement that Washington residents — and criminals — planning to visit Idaho during the upcoming holiday weekend need to stay in line.
“Don’t come to Kootenai County on vacation and leave on probation,” the sheriff stated, according to a press release.
It’s a sentiment the county has shared dating back to last year. Norris, a law enforcement veteran of nearly 40 years, has served as the county’s sheriff since 2021.
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Norris reminded people of the differences in the laws between the states, including how controlled substances, like marijuana, are still illegal in Idaho.
“In the past, the Kootenai County Jail has seen a disproportionate number of jail bookings from our neighbors to the west,” Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office’s press release continued. “Sheriff Robert ‘Bob’ Norris welcomes our law-abiding neighbors, however, states that ‘controlled substance’ laws are very different in Idaho than Washington. Fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine are serious felonies in Idaho and one will go to jail or prison. Marijuana is also against the law and is prohibited. Unlike Washington, Idaho law does not restrict Kootenai County Law Enforcement from enforcing the law and taking violators directly to the Kootenai County ‘Bed and Breakfast,’ our county jail.”
While Kootenai County ranks 23rd out of the state’s 44 counties in terms of violent crimes committed per 1,000, the county has previously cracked the top 10 in the state within the last decade. County deputies have previously cited that visitors, especially those from Spokane, deserve part of the blame.
The press release even went as far to say: “If one chooses to possess controlled substances or engage in any criminal behavior, Seattle, Spokane, and the entire state of Washington is a wonderful place to enjoy July Fourth celebrations.”
Last year, Norris blamed Washington’s laws on drug possession and restrictions on police pursuits as a primary reason for an increase in crime — specifically charges related to fentanyl — wreaking havoc on North Idaho in a town hall the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office hosted. More than 100 people participated in the town hall.
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“We don’t want Spokane’s criminals over here,” Lt. Mark Ellis said at last year’s meeting. “Not at all.”
Tangentially, out-of-state abortions in Washington have risen by 36% in 2023 since the Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization ruling last year, with a significant reason for the jump coming from restriction to abortions in neighboring states, primarily Idaho. According to Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, the number of abortion patients traveling from neighboring Idaho has risen by 56%.
In a letter sent April 4, Washington Governor Jay Inslee asked Idaho Governor Brad Little to veto House Bill 242 (HB 242), a bill that would make it illegal for any person to help an Idaho minor get an abortion in another state — even if abortion is legal in that state, like Washington.
Little took time to respond to Inslee’s request with a statement a few weeks after the bill passed on a 27-7 vote in the Senate.
“It is hard to imagine why someone would leave Idaho for Washington when your state is home to sky-high taxes, crime, and public encampments,” Little wrote in April. “Meanwhile, Idaho has turned back more tax relief per capita than any other state, we’re one of the safest states in the nation, and we don’t back down to activists – we kick illegal public encampments off public property.”