Dan Wilson speaks about is candidacy for the Republican nomination for Kootenai County Sheriff at Coeur d'Alene Coffee House on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Wilson Calls for a Citizen’s Posse in Kootenai County

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COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO – Dan Wilson is seeking the Republican nomination for Kootenai County sheriff in the primary election on May 21, 2004. So far,  he is the only challenger to the incumbent sheriff, Bob Norris. On Tuesday, February 6, 2024, Wilson sat down with the Kootenai Journal to discuss his campaign and share his priorities for the sheriff’s office.

Wilson has lived in Kootenai County since 2020, having been born and raised in the Spokane Valley. He started a career in construction by apprenticing in Kootenai County. “The house I first built, still stands off 16th and [Highway] 41, that was back in the early 90s,” Wilson shared.

Wilson’s background in law enforcement was as a reserve officer for twelve years. “I started out as a reserve officer for Spokane City and then transferred over to Liberty Lake when I was recruited for Liberty Lake Police Department back in 2014, and completed my reserve career there in March of 2023.”

When asked what he did as an officer of the peace to protect people’s rights during Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID mitigation protocols, Wilson said, “At no time while I was a reserve officer, or worked in my capacity as a police officer, did I ever force anybody to wear a mask, or to stay away from parks or anything that we were requested by city council or the government to do.” Wilson explained that his chief was supportive and did not micromanage the officers’ decisions.

One of Wilson’s priorities for the sheriff’s office, should he be elected, is to start a reserve officer program. According to Wilson, Idaho’s Police Officer Standards Training (POST) is set up with two avenues to a reserve program. The first would be to have retired officers who still meet POST requirements and were active officers within the past three years join as reserve sheriff deputies. He did not elaborate on the second avenue, but said a similar program saves Spokane City $800,000 annually since reserve officers are volunteers. According to the Idaho POST procedure 12.21 Law Enforcement Certification Programs and Reserve Academies, “Reserve Academies will be left to agencies to run and coordinate. POST regional coordinators will be responsible for approving and overseeing reserve academies in their respective regions.” It remains unclear how much it would cost the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) to run and coordinate a reserve academy, or how many employees it would require to maintain.

Being as Wilson was right over the Idaho/Washington border during the summer of 2020, the Kootenai Journal asked if he came over when locals defended Coeur d’Alene against Antifa and BLM protesters in what is commonly referred to as “Gun d’Alene.” He responded with, “Everybody in the entire country heard about it,” however, he did not participate. Wilson described how Liberty Lake was not really impacted by the 2020 riots and credits the community for being very supportive of law enforcement. While some Liberty Lake officers did go into Spokane to assist in securing the area, he was no one of them.

Wilson says his twenty-five years of experience running his own commercial construction and cabinet companies, as well as managing multi-million dollar budgets, hiring and firing employees, equips him to handle the duties of a county sheriff with oversight of hundreds of personnel and the operations of the county jail, which consumes $20 million annually from the county budget.

When asked how he would bring something more than the community is already enjoying under the current sheriff in regards to stabilizing the retention of officers and increasing the morale within the sheriff’s office, Wilson said he would argue there really isn’t stability right now. “If you talk to many of the deputies that I have spoken to, not only in the jail, but dispatch and on the lines, there is quite a different story that I am being told.” When asked to share the names of those taking issue with present conditions, Wilson said, “Absolutely not, they have come to me in confidence that I would not reveal their names.” Additionally, he says other government officials have spoken to him about issues.

Wilson was asked how this narrative jives with the recent 93 percent support given in a vote by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Employee Association to endorse Norris. “The question is, how many members are actually part of that association, and then out of the total members, how many actually voted.” Wilson did not have these figures and said the people should be asking, “How many total members of the deputies association showed up to vote.”

The Kootenai Journal took Wilson’s advice and reached out to Deputy Nick Franssen, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 43, to find out how many members participated in the endorsement vote. According to Franssen, membership is open to all current and retired KCSO employees, and there were over 130 votes cast out of approximately 175 members.

Wilson discussed how he would have handled the Patriot Front arrests in June of 2022. “I thought as a constitutional sheriff, one would want to take the opportunity to specifically find out who all these actors are,” Wilson stated. “That would have been a great opportunity to say, ‘you know what, as sheriff, chief law enforcement entity in the county, I’m going to run an independent investigation to get to the bottom of exactly who everybody is.’” Wilson’s primary concern was whether federal agencies were involved, given their widely-suspected involvement in other situations, including the January 6th incident at the Capitol and the Whitmer incident in Michigan.

A central platform to Wilson’s campaign is the establishment of what he calls a citizen’s posse. Wilson said he is disappointed and claims Norris used his quotes about creating a citizen’s posse verbatim when interviewed by the Kootenai Journal last week. Wilson said his original remarks were made in December on a Three Pastors Walk Into a Bar podcast. When pressed about the terminology “citizen’s posse,” which Norris did not use, and the existence of 205 individuals who are already part of the sheriff’s volunteer force to help the county when critical incidents occur, Wilson explained his idea is constitutionally-based and allowed by state law. The Kootenai Journal could not verify Wilson’s claim of verbatim quotes.

In Wilson’s scenario, a citizen’s posse would help secure the county, assisting deputies, but not doing law enforcement duties and would not be given a badge or a firearm. “The reserve posse is gonna serve in a variety of capacities. So it can be everything from, if we have a problem with our infrastructure, with water or sewer, we’re gonna have engineers that come in,” explained Wilson. “If we ever get into an event where we have a massive man-made disaster, at that point rules change and then we will adapt at that time … at this moment I don’t have all the logistics that I am ready to share.” Wilson believes all states will be greatly affected by the influx of illegal military-aged males and says the citizen’s posse must be ready for such a time.

Wilson said the number one reason voters should give him a chance is because it is time for a change. “Far too long individuals in the office of the sheriff have been career law enforcement and/or career politicians … The thing that we’ve seen for the past four years plus, is that we are tired of career government people.”

The interview wrapped up with a request for Wilson to state the four universal safety rules for handling a firearm, since he enjoys open-carry, as do a lot of citizens in Idaho. “All guns are always loaded, know your target and beyond, know your backstop, and never cross your muzzle across anything you don’t want to destroy,” replied Wilson.

Editor’s note – The universal safety rules have been modified over time, both within the military and within the various firearms training manuals for civilians. From the revised 2021 US Navy training manual:

  • Rule 1: Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
  • Rule 2: Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.
  • Rule 3: Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until ready to fire.
  • Rule 4: Keep weapon on “safe” until you intend to fire.

Rule 4 used to be “Know your target, what’s between and what’s beyond.” These rules apply anytime an individual is handling a firearm in both training and combat.