Without a contract between the city of St. Maries and the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office city ordinances may go unenforced.
The council voted 5-1 on Dec. 14, 2020, to provide 180-day notice to the BCSO that the city would cancel a negotiated contract for city patrols.
Under the contract, the city pays $303,086.04 per year to the sheriff’s office for city law enforcement and dispatch services. The BCSO also designates three deputies for city patrol 16 hours per day.
Councilmember Steve Dorendorf, who made the motion to cancel the contract, said that enforcement should be funded by county taxes and that the sheriff’s office is obligated to “enforce all the laws of Benewah County.”
According to Sheriff Dave Resser, the BCSO is not obligated to enforce city code.
“…we don’t enforce their ordinances. We enforce state law,” Sheriff Resser said.
Sheriff Resser said that city ordinance violations comprise the majority of calls within the city.
“…most of the calls by the city to dispatch are dog calls, loose dogs and parking on the city streets,” Sheriff Resser said.
According to Title 4 Public Health and Safety, the city relies on the BCSO for enforcement of a range of ordinances including but not limited to approximately 20 declared nuisances, firearms use, garbage control, animal control, public alcohol consumption, juvenile curfew, vehicle removal, traffic, parking, public street and sidewalk use, and cemetery use.
Unless they renegotiate, per city code, the mayor and council will have to appoint enforcement to replace the BCSO.
Title 4 Public Health and Safety reads: The Mayor, with the consent of the City Council, shall appoint a duly authorized representative who shall be responsible for the enforcement of this chapter. If no such “Code Officer” is formally appointed, any City police officer or the Benewah County Sheriff or one of his duly constituted deputies and/or any authorized City employee or agent may serve as such authorized representative.
According to Sheriff Resser, the cancellation of the contract will not impact the BCSO this year.
“Through our fiscal year this year everything is good to go. The funding is there,” Sheriff Resser said.
The cancellation will impede a plan to add an additional deputy to the BCSO.
“…we were in the process of hiring another deputy within the next budget deal and now of course we are not going to do that,” Sheriff Resser said.