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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Campbell County Candidate Questionnaire: Janaia Hyland for County Sheriff

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GILLETTE, Wyo. — County 17 has sent out a questionnaire to those running in the primary election in August. The following are the answers from Janaia Hyland, who is running for Campbell County Sheriff.

  • Who are you? (name, employment, hobbies etc.)   My name is Janaia Hyland, I have lived in Campbell County, Wyoming for 41 years.  I moved to Gillette, when I was seven years old with my mom, step dad and two brothers.  I attended school in Campbell County from the second grade until I graduated from Campbell County High School in 1992.  I attended college at the Gillette Campus, beginning in 1992 and also have attended college courses through the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy with Eastern Wyoming College.  I began working when I was 14 years old.   My work history includes working in restaurants, grocery stores, lawn mowing and I was an administrative assistant for Human Resources at Wyodak Coal Mine, prior to going to work for the Sheriff’s Office.  In the spring of 1993, I began working for the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office as a Detention Officer.  A few years later in 1995, I became a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff’s Office. Since retiring, I have been working as a Substitute Teacher for the Campbell County School District.

    One of my favorite hobbies is quilting and creating my own quilt designs.  I enjoy spending time with family and my grandchildren.

  • Why have you decided to run for office and what do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? 

    I am running for office to provide leadership for a better future.  I want to strengthen relationships with the community, businesses, other supporting agencies and other law enforcement agencies.   My top priority is and will be public safety.

  • How do you plan on accomplishing your goals?Leadership:   I will place the right people in the right positions.  Good decisions are made with input from a great leadership team.  Making decisions that benefit the citizens of Campbell County and the Sheriff’s Office employees.  All of my decisions will be made with the best interests of all involved and fairness will be the key.

    Strengthening Relationships:  I will re establish rural patrol within our county.   I would host at least a couple public forum meetings per calendar year, where citizens can ask questions and make suggestions.   Budget allowing, I would re establish a citizen’s police academy.  This day in age it is important for citizens to be familiar with their local law enforcement.

    I will establish a positive working relationship with employees and other agencies.  I would do this by encouraging employees and having employees train with other agencies to provide a more efficient response to critical incidents.

    Public Safety:  Making sure people feel safe and secure in their home, school, place of business and in public.  Our children have the right to feel safe and secure in school without the bad influences of drugs, gangs and violence.  Our schools and businesses will only prosper if they are in a crime free environment.  I will work with law enforcement officers and the community to strive to make a safer community for all.

  • What experience do you have that qualifies you for the office you are seeking?I have experience in almost every facet of law enforcement.  I have over 26 years of law enforcement experience which include the areas of detention, patrol, investigations, DARE, Drug Task Force narcotic investigations, training new deputies, supervising the patrol training program, supervising patrol shifts and supervising the investigations unit.  I was a shift supervisor for over ten years, managing the day to day work assignments of deputies assigned to me.  I worked and supervised criminal cases which included cases from property crimes, crimes against people, narcotics investigations and homicides.  When I retired from the Sheriff’s Office, I was at the rank of Sergeant.

    I have experience and established great working relationships with other law enforcement agencies, non law enforcement agencies such as the County Attorney’s Office, Department of Family Service, Gillette Abuse Foundation, Campbell County Fire and EMS, Youth Emergency Services, Division of Criminal Investigations and the Courts, to name a few.

    I have attended college courses for general education and criminal justice.

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    I attended the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in 1993 for Detention and in 1995 for Peace Officer Basic.  I was named Honor Graduate for my Detention Basic Training.  During my career, I continued my law enforcement education and training which were credited with Wyoming Peace Officer Training Hours (P.O.S.T.).  I have 2,053 hours of training with Wyoming P.O.S.T.  Upon my retirement I was dual certified in detention and as a professional peace officer.

    With my experience as a law enforcement officer and several years as a working supervisor, I will bring first hand knowledge to this position.

  • Do you feel you could be, or have been, a good steward of taxpayer dollars?  Why or Why not?Yes, I have been a good steward of taxpayer dollars.  During my employment, I found ways to cut costs and saved the taxpayer’s money.  There is a lot of wasted spending in government, which can be alleviated with frugality.  While I was a supervisor, I was diligent in managing and controlling overtime for those who were assigned to me.  I was careful with any spending I was responsible for and resourceful with purchases, training and forensic interviews.  I was resourceful and would seek out used equipment from other county agencies, saving money to where we did not have to spend money.
  • On the issue of transparency, where do you stand on ensuring all public business is conducted openly and in a manner that encourages public attendance?  How have you made your office or board more transparent and open with the public?Transparency is key to any political office.  I plan on hosting a public forum, at least a couple times a year, for citizens to voice concerns, make comments and suggestions.  In addition to this, the Sheriff’s Office Website and Social Media will be improved to keep citizens informed with important information such as public safety concerns, public announcements and events.  I also would add a public opinion/comment section to these platforms.
  • If you were presiding over a meeting and a topic was being discussed that you didn’t fully understand, would you ask or a more detailed explanation during the meeting or would you seek the information after the meeting?There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for clarification.  A great leader should not pretend to know everything and should not be afraid to ask when they don’t understand the question, whether in a public setting or not.  If it requires clarification, others are probably needing that as well, so asking a clarifying question may be a benefit to all involved.
  • Should you be elected, or re-elected, do you plan on seeking any major policy changes in your chosen office?  If yes, what would those changes be? If no, why not?Yes, I have several ideas, however, I believe it is best to make a slow transition with input from the employees.  One thing I would establish is a policy review board.  This board will be required to ensure our policies are up to date and in accordance with current case law and statutes.  Historically, people seeking office make grand promises only to learn, once in office, those ideas were tried and failed, or simply will not work.
  • Marijuana legalization, or at the very least decriminalization, is on the minds of the public and public officials alike.  Where do you stand on marijuana legalization?  What would your office’s stance be if marijuana was decriminalized?There have been several law changes I have not agreed with and legalizing marijuana would be added to that list.  However, if marijuana is legalized in Wyoming, I would uphold the oath of office to uphold the constitution and the laws of this state.
  • Should you be elected, or re-elected, where do you stand on the issue of constitutional vs. community policing?Constitutional Policing and Community Policing go hand in hand.  Officers should know the constitution and it is important to make sure their training is current with regards to case law, civil rights and legal trends.  I have practiced Constitutional Policing my entire career, always having the citizen’s rights in mind while enforcing laws.  Community policing is establishing relationships with the community to solve and prevent crime.
  • The position you are running for has minimum criteria.  Do you believe there are additional qualifications or characteristics that would help the person who will hold this office be best suited for the position?  If so, how do you meet those additional criteria?  In what ways can you improve as a leader and/or as a law enforcement professional?The ability to work with other agencies and community members to provide the most up to date accurate and dependable service to this community.

    Practical application.  Every office should have term limits.  Many long term administrations are far removed from the practical application of police work and detention shift work.  By adding term limits, the administration will remain fresh as line officers move up into supervisory positions. This helps with overall morale in the office, as those who work hard and contribute to the office, will have more opportunity for advancement.

    Having a proven track record as a first line supervisor is a key to this position.  Not only was I a sergeant in patrol and investigations, I also supervised the training program.  This program is developed to ensure we get the correct person for the job.  Without this screening, the liability to the Sheriff’s Office is enormous, which translates to tax dollars with lawsuits.

    Continued education with an emphasis on case law and current trends is a must have for all law enforcement officers.  It is paramount the Sheriff is up to date in these areas to make, change and update policy and procedures.

  • What are the biggest challenges facing the Sheriff’s Office?  How do you plan to address them?The Sheriff’s Office needs to strengthen trust amongst the citizens, other agencies and its own employees.  I want to build stronger trusting relationships with other agencies and the citizens of Campbell County.  If elected I plan to have annual meetings, with an open forum to discuss citizens’ concerns.  In addition, I will make myself available for anyone, employee or citizen who wants to meet with me to discus anything about this office.  I will continue to dedicate myself as a public servant and do my best to serve and represent the citizens and employees of Campbell County.
  • Do you believe the Sheriff’s Office needs more resources? Why or why not?Since being away from the Sheriff’s Office for over a year and a half, I am not able to give a complete honest answer on what new resources they have or are in need of.  I will scrutinize the budget to ensure the money is being used wisely to purchase additional needed equipment.

    Every other county office provides a yearly report and includes their budget in this report.  To see the current Sheriff’s Office budget, one must complete a records request to see where the money went.  I will be transparent and prudent with my spending.

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  • What do you believe is the role of the Sheriff’s Office in addressing homelessness and mental health issues within Campbell County?Homelessness and Mental Health are community issues; law enforcement makes up a small percent of that pie.  The Counsel of Community Services is very successful taking care of homeless persons.

    Mental Health on the other hand, falls by the wayside.  Campbell County has not had the infrastructure needed to take care of this issue.  Other communities in Wyoming have successful Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT), to deal with persons suffering from mental health.  The Gillette Police Department has CIT trained officers in place.  One of my goals will be to implement this program within the Sheriff’s Office.  This is only a small piece of the process.  The only facility to immediately treat someone with mental health issues is at the hospital.  There are inherent issues with this.

    First, a law enforcement officer must make the decision that the person is incapable of caring for themselves, they are a harm to themselves or others.  If any of those situations are applicable, a law enforcement officer then may involuntarily commit a person to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.  This decision is a huge burden to place on an individual officer with limited training.

    Second, if a mentally ill person commits an arrest able offense, that person is then taken to the detention center, where they can be assessed by medical staff and observed by detention officers.

    Third, within my 26 years as a deputy, I frequently dealt with people suffering from mental health issues.  Most of those individuals did not rise to the level of harming themselves or others and in my opinion could care for themselves.  I would spend hours speaking with these persons, trying to help them with their struggles and I would encourage them to seek further help for their mental health.

    Law enforcement officers are not medically trained to evaluate and diagnose mental illness.  Their function as a community caretaker is limited by Wyoming State Statutes and the Constitution.  We cannot violate either, by forcing a detention of those individuals who do not meet the specific criteria, so then what?  My plan is to work with the police department and mental health officials to make CIT a workable program.  Part of CIT, which is missing in Campbell County, is an on-call mental health official who can respond to deal with those persons beyond the scope of law enforcement.

  • Is there anything else voters should know about you as they determine whom to vote for?I spent 26 years in law enforcement, holding nearly every position.  I will be an employee and citizen sheriff.  I spent many holidays, family birthdays, events and special occasions working to keep this county safe.  I understand and I am still in touch with the day to day workings of the sheriff’s office employees.  Once again, I believe in term limits, I plan on only serving up to two terms if I am elected.  With very few exceptions, the longer an elected official is in office, they lose touch with the reality of the people they represent, the working conditions and the mental fortitude it takes.  It then becomes a self serving position versus a community position.

    I am a strong supporter of the United States Constitution, the second amendment and the right for law abiding citizens to bear arms.

    If elected I will have an open door policy, where anyone can come into my office and speak with me about concerns or make suggestions on how to better serve our community.

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