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Q&A with Mineral County sheriff candidate Ryan Funke

| March 23, 2022 12:00 AM

On Aug. 3, 2020, Mike Toth took the oath to be sheriff of Mineral County. He was appointed by the county commissioners following the resignation of Sheriff Mike Boone.

For personal reasons, Toth decided not to run for the position, but two people that are already employed have registered for the primary and their names will be on the ballot in the Tuesday, June 7 election.

Undersheriff Wayne Cashman was hired by Toth within minutes of his own acceptance of his position. Sgt. Ryan Funke has been with the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office for over four years.

The following is a Q&A with Funke. Next week’s edition will feature a Q&A with Cashman.

What have you done to improve the department since you became a member?

Funke: I have created a positive working relationship with all agencies inside Mineral County. I wrote and passed the Vicious Dog Ordinance for Mineral County. I have been a Field Training officer for our office since I joined MCSO.  I brought the antic of proactive policing, which in turn allowed the Sheriff’s Office the opportunity for Stone Garden overtime. The Stone Garden Program provides funding to enhance cooperation and coordination among state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal law enforcement agencies to jointly enhance security along the United States land and water borders.  

What kinds of situations would you call in other law enforcement agencies to assist with an arrest or an ongoing investigation?  Specifically, which agencies would you be willing to coordinate with on a state or federal level and for what kinds of criminal activity? 

Funke: Situations that are large scale and above our agency capacities. The Department of Criminal Investigations is a state agency that assists Montana law enforcement agencies in a wide variety of investigations. This is at no cost to the requesting agency. Other agencies that I would be willing to coordinate with include, but are not limited to: Montana Highway Patrol Interdiction Team, DCI, DEA, CSKT Drug Detectives, NWDTF, ATF. Working relationships with surrounding agencies include Sanders County SO, Missoula County, Shoshone County, and Montana Highway Patrol. 

I would not hesitate to ask for help for all kinds of criminal activity.

What do you see as the immediate needs of the department, and how will accomplish them?

Funke: Leadership that is a “lead by example” model. This style of leadership is where you model the behavior you want to see in your TEAM.  When you lead by example, you don’t just push team members towards excellence, you actively demonstrate that excellence. If elected myself and the Undersheriff will be “boots on the ground” leaders who work alongside the Deputy Division. Radio communication has been a large officer safety issue since my employment and continues to be a large safety concern for our deputies. I plan to look into state and local grants to financially aid in ensuring community safety.

How will your department work with ancillary offices to promote transparency and vital communication? (HR, County Attorney, Health Department, Safety, CVA, etc.)

Funke: I believe it is imperative that agencies in small communities work together for common goals and solutions to shared problems. As previously stated, I have worked to build these relationships since my employment in Mineral County. I have shown with the vicious dog ordinance that communication among local departments is crucial for success. With the assistance of the community’s voice, the health department, county attorney, crime victim advocate, and the vote of the commissioners, an important shared goal was accomplished with the passing of the vicious dog ordinance.

What are your plans for community involvement and community partnerships?  What is your plan to balance the jail occupancy between local, state and federal prisoners? And what will be done with the revenue from state and federal occupants? 

Funke: Community policing is very important and I’ve worked hard on bringing this to Mineral County. I’ve trained new deputies to also be active in our communities.   

Jail occupancy needs to have a balance as our main mission is to ensure the safety of the people living in Mineral County. This hasn’t been a priority in the past few years and needs to be at the forefront. I want the people of Mineral County to feel that we are ensuring their safety and that it is our top priority.  

The revenue brought in by State and Federal inmates goes back into the Mineral County General Fund.

What additional proactive law enforcement policies will you put into place to curb the widespread and far-reaching drug related and human trafficking crimes? 

Funke: MCSO currently has Stone Garden (federal) grant that allows deputies overtime to work local and interstate drugs/human trafficking. My goal is to continue this partnership as long as it is available to our county. A proactive deputy with a K-9 would be very beneficial to our mission to curb drug-related crimes. Recent drug overdoses nationwide with fentanyl-based drugs have had a negative impact on many communities. Proactive policing with a K-9 would minimize these effects on our community.  

Why do your years of law enforcement and experience make you the best candidate to be the Sheriff of Mineral County?

Funke: I have approximately 13 years of law enforcement experience and all have been in Western Montana. I have learned to be a leader by example and I continually instill this notion in our employees. I have and will continue to ask citizens to express the concerns and needs of the community under a true open door policy. MCSO needs to be more involved in the community, and I’m personally committed to that concept. Having built our forever home here, I am 100% vested in this community.  This past year I assisted in coaching the St. Regis Lady Tigers and I’ve been an active member of the men’s golf league since moving to Mineral County.

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