Idaho sheriff to Rantz: ‘When your community is soft on crime, you only reap more crime’

Jun 28, 2023, 5:08 PM

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Kootenai County Sheriff Robert Norris at a public town hall in Hayden, Idaho. (Photo courtesy of the City of Hayden)

(Photo courtesy of the City of Hayden)

In a press release addressed to “Washington Criminals and Kootenai County Taxpayers,” Idaho Sheriff Robert Norris issued a warning to potential 4th of July vacationers from the state of Washington that everyone will still have to adhere to Idaho’s laws — that includes controlled substances, like marijuana, remaining illegal there.

“In the past, the Kootenai County Jail has seen a disproportionate number of jail bookings from our neighbors to the west, “the Kootenai County (Idaho) Sheriff’s Office’s press release read. “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.

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“If one chooses to possess controlled substances or engage in any criminal behavior, Seattle, Spokane, and the entire state of Washington (are wonderful places) to enjoy July Fourth celebrations,” the press release continued.

Norris, a law enforcement veteran of nearly 40 years, delivered a similar remark during last year’s 4th of July holiday weekend, warning Washington residents to behave themselves and follow all Idaho state laws. Norris has served as the Kootenai County sheriff since 2021 and claimed some recreational users from Washington didn’t realize cocaine or fentanyl is a felony in Idaho.

“We’ve come across many people that have said, ‘Well, I have methamphetamine, and when the cops stopped me over there in Washington, they don’t even do anything, ‘They give me a self-help phone number to call if I want help, but I don’t go to jail. I don’t get a citation, I don’t get nothing,'” Norris told Jason Rantz on KTTH 770 AM. “What Washington has done to decriminalize dangerous drugs, it’s a legalization of dangerous drugs. And this failed social experiment, many, many cities in Washington are just not very good cities to live in.”

Norris stated 43 of the 93 people arrested were from the state of Washington, or 46%, according to a review of the July 4th weekend in 2021. The offenses ranged from petty and grand theft to robbery to operating a vehicle or a vessel under the influence.

According to Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, the unlawful activity starts once somebody falls under the influence of a simple central nervous system depressant or stimulant, committing crimes they wouldn’t typically do if they were sober.

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“If this was Washington, we probably wouldn’t even arrest them,” Norris said. “Maybe probation at the most. But we take these things very, very seriously.”

Norris’ slogan — Don’t come to Kootenai County on vacation and leave on probation — has even become a rallying cry for the entire community.

“When your community is soft on crime, you’re going to only reap more crime,” Norris said. “And that’s what we’re seeing across small and major cities across this nation.”

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Idaho sheriff to Rantz: ‘When your community is soft on crime, you only reap more crime’