Hood River City Police Capt. Kevin Lynch passed up an opportunity last week to help set up a new law enforcement system in Iraq.

Although the U.S. State Department offer was intriguing, Lynch said it came just as he was gearing up for another adventure — running for the elected office of Hood River County Sheriff.

“I think a person needs challenges and I am very serious about this one, I’m going to campaign very hard,” said Lynch, who has more than one year until the May 2004 primary election.

He decided to declare his candidacy early to allow plenty of time for organizing his campaign committee and getting the word on the street that it’s time for a new sheriff in town.

“I believe the Sheriff’s office needs stronger leadership that helps increase the level of professionalism and provides better service to citizens,” said Lynch, 45, who is ready to speak about his campaign platform with any interested group or organization.

He reiterated that his election bid will focus on issues and not veer into personal attacks against Sheriff Joe Wampler or any other potential candidate who enters the race. His primary goal, if elected, is to establish clearly written policies and procedures in the county office that he believes will provide a more uniform service to citizens.

“I believe that I’m at the point in my career where my skills and management abilities will definitely be an asset to this position,” said Lynch, who has more than 20 years of background in law enforcement.

His chief accomplishments include a one year tour of duty with a multinational peace keeping force in embattled Kosovo, as well as numerous awards for local performance — including a top executive certificate — from the Oregon Board of Public Safety Standards and Training. Early in his career, Lynch was also the first Hood River county or city officer to garner a perfect 100 in shooting competition during his four-week training stay at the Oregon Police Academy.

He regularly attends classes to upgrade his expertise in police work and would like to see county deputies provided with more training opportunities. He believes consistent backing would also increase morale among the officers and help them better utilize their individual abilities.

“There are a good group of men and women in that office and I want them to know that I have no plans to just ‘clean house’ when I get there,” said Lynch.

Lynch also has hands-on knowledge that it is important for police to network with both fire and ambulance personnel. His early experience includes joint employment as an Emergency Medical Technician and firefighter in Clackamas County during his criminal justice training. The native Hood River Valley resident returned to the Gorge for his first position as a dispatcher/jailer with the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office in 1980. He signed on with the Hood River Sheriff’s Office in the same position in 1983 and also took on the duties of a reservist. In November of 1985, Lynch was hired as a city patrol officer and has worked his way up through the ranks to second in command since that time. He now oversees the county’s Critical Incident Response Team and is responsible to supervise patrol sergeants and detectives, as well as assume command when Police Chief Tony Dirks is away.

Lynch said his management style is to train people in their individualized areas of expertise and then delegate “on-the ground” duties to them while he maintains an oversight role. He also prefers to research all available information before making a change in operations — unless the situation warrants immediate attention.

If Lynch succeeds in his goal and needs any advice while serving as sheriff, he can always turn to his father, Robert, who previously held that role for three elected terms.

“He’s behind me, very supportive with a lot of advice — but he also knows that I’ve been in law enforcement for a long time and have my own experience,” said Lynch. Also strongly supportive of his decision, said Lynch, is his mother Joan, a retired school teacher, his wife Dawn, the owner of Hood River Apparel, and his two daughters, Morgan, 16, and McKenzie, 11.

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