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New Mineral County Sheriff Ryan Funke takes the reins

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | January 18, 2023 12:00 AM

Some unexpected remodeling was waiting for newly elected Mineral County Sheriff Ryan Funke even before he officially was sworn into the position.

The former Sheriff’s Office was discovered to have suspected mildew and mold issues under the carpet that was never removed. Undersheriff Wayne Cashman’s office is next to be remedied. Sheriff Funke has permanently taken the first office through the annex entrance next to the county commissioners office and is decluttering everything to make the department more professional.

“Appearance is important and when people come into the office, they see chaos. We’re making the area more appealing to visitors and our employees. That may seem like a little thing, but the hallways will seem wider with the file cabinets and tables gone. A much cleaner appearance,” he said. “My time off will be here with a paint brush and some of the deputies have volunteered to paint as well on their time off. Heck, Chief Dodd (Superior Volunteer Fire Department) helped me pull cables through the ceiling to get internet into this room and Gordon Hendrick our evidence technician who has become invaluable to the Sheriff’s Office as a volunteer, has been helping rip up carpet.”

This wasn’t the way Funke expected his first 10 days go, but one can see the collaboration and camaraderie already primed. Funke’s knowledge of the area and knowing the people as well as he does is a plus for him in this position.

“I can call up Shawn (Sgt. Shawn Smalley of Montana Highway Patrol) and say ‘Hey, we’re short this shift. Would you mind letting your troops know?’ and he will but he usually stays on late himself to be there if needed,” he said.

As far as staffing, Funke is asking the county commissioners for funding for a deputy position and a half, with the half being a part-time deputy he has in mind. Detention, or the jail, is fully staffed with the recent hiring of two new people, one having worked there before.

“We’re hiring a nationwide company that does background investigations from this point forward on employees of the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office. To the best of my knowledge, all of the current employees are good to go,” he said.

During his campaign when asked what is one of the first items of business would be if elected, Funke impressed it was internal communication.

“I’m meeting with all of the dispatchers this afternoon where I’ve told them to bring their wants, needs and concerns," he said. "I want them to know how important they are to our mission so bring the good, the bad and the ugly to talk about it. The deputies, because I’ve worked closely with them, we all know where we need to improve and where we need to go to get it taken care of.”

Funke has one deputy and the supervisor of detention at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy and when they return, group meetings for those departments will be scheduled.

“It’s good to have supervisors at these meetings so everyone hears the same message. Then I’ll sit down with only the department leads and have a legal pad split in two with ‘pros and cons’ and the cons will get the attention. Be it more training, hands-on or computerized because I want to fix these as soon as possible. Supervisors need to know that they need to work on orienting training to help eliminate the cons.”

In the five years that Funke has been employed at the Sheriff's Office he has never had an annual evaluation, which is changing.

“A lot of what we do is repetitiveness and if we’re doing the same thing every day and we feel we’re doing a good job and nobody has said anything different, how would we know that it’s not being done correctly? I need to explain that evaluations are not to make you look bad but they are to help us lead you into the training you might need to be more effective.”

He said that to play catch up, he is going to have bi-annual evaluations to tighten the wire quicker.

“People put me in this office for a reason and I’m going to do everything I can to do this job the right way," he said.

Funke has been involved in community activities and will continue to pitch in to help coach the St. Regis girls basketball but it might be down to one day a week at times.

Funk and his wife Danica have one son, Cash, and they reside in St. Regis.

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