'Making a difference': Kootenai County sheriff shares his experience as a deputy congressman (2023)

Colin Schauer, an arresting officer with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, shared his work experience over the past four years.

KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho — Colin Schauer has been a detention officer for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office for nearly four years, our news partner the reportsImprenta Coeur d'Alene.

He knows why.

"I know it sounds a little cheesy, but I wanted to do something that helps the community, something to hang your hat on and tell your friends," he said.

It happened mostly as expected. He enjoys his work at the Kootenai County Jail. You think you make a difference. He speaks highly of his teammates.

"That drives me every day. I literally work with some of the best people I've ever met in my life," he said.

Then there are the challenges of being a prison officer: monitoring hundreds of inmates in prison for a variety of misdemeanors and crimes. Thursday's KCSO summary accounting report showed people arrested for DUI, marijuana possession, malicious damage to property, separation struggle, robbery and attempted first-degree murder.

On any given day, that could mean officers checking them in, taking care of the paperwork, making sure they have lunch, changing their linens and having transportation to and from the court, or calling an attorney.

"Essentially it's the prison equivalent of a soldier on the street," said Lt. Kyle Hutchison.

Some in prison aren't the nicest of people.

Schauer, who holds an impressive 6-5 record, was fired. Not long ago, an inmate tried to hit him.

He shrugs like something that comes with territory.

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"You see people in ways and under conditions that no one else sees," Schauer said. "We deal with things that people only see in movies and things that you can't even imagine."

But being a prison officer has its good days.

"That's something to be proud of," he said.

Schauer tells how he puts on his uniform at lunchtime when he goes to the store. Then the community will let you know that they are valued.

"When you're in uniform, everyone thanks you and shakes your hand," he said. "Which is cool. I know there are many cities in this country that would not be like that.”

need more

The KCSO needs a few more people like Schauer.

It has 11 vacancies. They have 11 new employees in training, so it's really only 22. A typical day shift would have two sergeants and 12 assistants on duty.

"We can't keep up with those numbers because we just don't have enough staff to handle the four main shifts," Hutchison said.

That puts pressure on the prison, which is certified for 451 inmates and has 410.

The result is lots of overtime, 40-60 hours in two weeks is not uncommon, and high turnover as some try to get promoted to patrol.

“We were so close before and then we managed to catch up. But we always seem to go backwards," Hutchison said.

(Video) 8/31/2022 Kootenai County Commissioners: FY23 Budget - Public Hearing

KCSO wants to change that.

He strives to attract new arresting officers and build up 82 staff. He hopes to highlight the salary, which starts at $20.71 an hour, with first-year raises, great benefits and a strong career.

He scheduled two open tours for interested applicants to tour the Kootenai County Jail. The first is from 5pm to 7pm. on March 16 and the second on March 26 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Hutchison hopes he can attract curious people, show them around the facility, and give them a glimpse into the life of an arrest officer.

"We think if people see what a prison is really like and not what they see on TV, they will realize that this is a place they want to work in," Hutchison said.

He said they are hiring 18-year-olds, perhaps seniors, who have retired from a job and are looking for a second career. Retired military personnel was a good market for KCSO.

The process includes a background check.

"We need people with strong moral character who are willing to work shifts, to deal with sometimes uncomfortable things, but honestly to work for a very good employer, a good benefits package and I've been here for 17 years," he said .

Hutchison said the day job isn't physically demanding, "but there's the possibility of a fight or wrestling match with an inmate, so you have to keep fit and also pass an elementary-level physical fitness test. 🇧🇷

"There are days when I don't do much more than sit in a chair and type on the computer," he said. "And there are days when I walk a lot and take care of the inmates."

a prisoner's perspective

Virgil Shifflet, 42, is being held in prison. He said he has served in and out of prison for the past 25 years for crimes including drug possession, probation violations, robbery, aggravated assault and shoplifting.

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"I've been doing this for a long time," he said in an interview with The Press. "I can't avoid trouble."

Nicknamed "Tank," Shifflet has met some of the prison staff and enjoys what they do.

"Mostly I get respect. There are a lot of new guys because they have a big twist," he said. "But the guys I've known for a long time are pretty respectful to me for the most part, but I show they respect, so it's a give and take."

"Respect goes a long way, man," he said.

He notices when MPs work overtime and extra shifts.

"It's not good," he said. "It also puts them in a bad mood because now they can't see their family either. So they're kind of in our shoes at this point. Yes, they also serve time.

"It's a shame for us when they're in a bad mood because they put us in a bad mood," he continued. "If they're in a bad mood, it doesn't matter how good you are. No one wants to be surrounded by bad attitudes."

"We all have our own problems, but don't scold me just because you're in a bad mood because you've had to work 14, 16, 20 hours or something because you're understaffed.

"We don't give a fuck. We have no shortage of prisoners. We're not," he said, laughing. "We definitely have job security."

Shifflet said he was on good terms with officers.

“These guys are great. Do not get me wrong. There will never be a friendship if I go out for a drink with them.”

But you mentioned treating others as you would like to be treated.

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"I think it's in the Bible," he said.

Haft vicarious pride

Hutchison said that prisons can be inherently depressing "because not everyone is happy here. Sometimes it's easy to get into."

But that's where they're attracted to good people.

"If I'm having a bad day, my team helps me. We're a team that helps each other," he said. "We have a lot of fun. And we support each other."

Schauer said no matter what day it is, he always tries to remember that inmates are people.

“Anyone can get in each other's way. Anyone can have a terrible day or whatever is happening in their life. But yes, they are still human.

He sees the good in the inmates and said, "They also see the true evil."

Being a detention officer comes at a price, Schauer said. For those thinking about it, he suggested they do some research and talk to the family about it. You tend to unwind by listening to positive podcasts on the way home and enlisting the support of your co-workers.

"Being in law enforcement, whether on patrol or in jail, weighs you down," he said.

But Schauer makes it clear that it is an honorable job and that he is proud to work in prison.

"It's something you can make a difference in. And it's something to tell your family about and hang your hat on. It definitely is."

Coeur d'Alene Press is the news partner for KREM 2. For more information on our news partner, go toclick here.

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Who is the current Kootenai County Sheriff? ›

Sheriff Robert "Bob" Norris began his term as Kootenai County Sheriff on January 1, 2021. He began his career in law enforcement with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department in March 14, 1984.

How do you visit an inmate in Kootenai County Jail? ›

You may schedule your visit with inmates up to one week in advance by using the kiosk in the jail lobby, or by going to Telmate's website. Visiting sessions are 30 minutes in duration. Each inmate is allowed two free visits during the week (Monday through Sunday). Additional visits may be purchased.

How long is a Sheriff term Idaho? ›

Idaho Statutes

Election of county sheriffs — Qualifications. (1) At the general election, 1972, and every four (4) years thereafter, a sheriff shall be elected in every county.

How many visits a week can a prisoner have? ›

As a convicted prisoner you are normally allowed one 30 minute visit each week or one 2-hour visit every 28 days. You will be given information when you arrive at the prison about how to organise a visit.

Can inmates browse Internet? ›

Currently all institutions operated by the Bureau of Prisons have TRULINCS. However outside of the TRULINCS program, nearly all states prohibit Internet use by inmates, severely limiting technology-based access to educational opportunities.

How do you call a friend in jail? ›

Most inmates have access to telephones and can initiate outgoing collect calls. When corresponding with an inmate, individuals may provide a telephone number where an inmate can call them collect. It is up to the inmate to initiate the call. Phone calls are limited to 15 minutes.

What should you not say on a jail call? ›

Bottom line: do not discuss your case in any way over the phone with anyone other than your lawyer or the lawyer's representative. And even then, do not say anything you would not want the judge or jury to hear.

What should you not call someone in jail? ›

These include “person who was convicted of a crime,” “person who is incarcerated,” “person convicted of a felony,” and “person seeking lawful status.” These words and phrases matter.

Is deputy higher than sheriff? ›

A sheriff is an elected law enforcement officer who will serve a term of service that is usually four years long. Deputy sheriffs work under the sheriff to enforce federal, state, and local laws within their jurisdiction.

How much does a deputy sheriff make in Idaho? ›

The average Deputy Sheriff salary in Idaho is $109,050 as of December 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $102,970 and $115,670.

Are high sheriffs paid? ›

Appointment. High Sheriffs are appointed for a year. The post is unpaid (except for a nominal court attendance allowance), and the general expenses of the office are borne personally by the holder.

How much does a High Sheriff earn? ›

The High Sheriffs´ Association adopted National Crimebeat in recent years in response to specific areas of need. High Sheriffs receive no remuneration and no part of the expense of a High Sheriff's year falls on the public purse.

How long does it take to become a police officer? ›

While police academy programs take only about 6 months, most will require at least an associate degree in order to get accepted. With all things considered, it takes about 2-4 years to become a police officer. Was this answer helpful?

Can prisoners stay in their cell all day? ›

Life in solitary confinement means up to 24 hours a day in a cell. People held in disciplinary segregation in federal prisons, for example, typically spend two days a week entirely in isolation and 23 hours a day in their cell for the remaining five days, with one hour outside for exercise.

How many phone calls are prisoners allowed? ›

A remand prisoner is entitled to make at least 5 telephone calls per week to a member of their family, or to a friend, and as many telephone calls as are reasonably necessary for the purpose of managing their property or business affairs.

What do prisoners do all day? ›

Inmates work in the kitchen, license tag plant or laundry, or perform maintenance or janitorial tasks during the day. Around 3 PM, the inmate usually checks his mail and spends some time on the recreation yard prior to returning to the dining hall for the evening meal at 4 PM.

Do inmates have TVs in their cells? ›

In fact, TVs are considered among the top jail, prison, and inmate supplies. It is also important to protect TVs in prisons.

Do prisons allow smart phones? ›

In most jurisdictions, prison inmates are forbidden from possessing mobile phones due to their ability to communicate with the outside world and other security issues. Mobile phones are one of the most smuggled items into prisons.

What is a nickname for jail? ›

clink (slang) glasshouse (military, informal) gaol. penitentiary (US) slammer (slang)

How do prisoners get cell phones in jail? ›

Incarcerated people have used cell phones to communicate with criminals and organize illicit activity inside and outside correctional facilities. Inmates can obtain cell phones by having them thrown over prison or jail fences and through correctional staff, who will supply inmates phones for money.

What is a 3 way call from jail? ›

Prisoners are allowed to call only a few previously agreed numbers. So if an inmate wanted to speak to someone on a number not on the list, they would call their friends or parents and ask for a “three-way” with the person they really wanted to talk to – code for dialling a third party into the call.

Why won't my phone accept calls from jail? ›

Cell phones are contraband in jails. The only way you are going to receive a call from one would be if a visitor or an officer smuggled one to an inmate.

Do prisons listen to phone calls? ›

Nearly all prisons record and monitor inmate phone calls, just as they also inspect every letter, postcard, and any other item coming into or going out of the prison. This is done for security – to be sure someone isn't planning an escape, a drug delivery, etc.

Should you make friends in jail? ›

Prison is not the best place to make friends. To start, you're meeting them under negative circumstances. If you build a bond with a person in prison, you have to realize that you don't know anything about how they act on the street.

Can you hug a prisoner? ›

In most cases, handshakes, hugs, and kisses (in good taste) are allowed at the beginning and end of a visit. Staff may limit contact for security reasons (to prevent people from trying to introduce contraband) and to keep the visiting area orderly. The Federal Bureau of Prisons does not permit conjugal visits.

What can inmates do on tablets? ›

Officials report many benefits, including the ability to monitor use and quickly address security concerns. In addition, music, movies, games and recreational books are widely enjoyed by incarcerated people. Tablets also allow people in prison to learn about technology they may not have ever experienced.

How many Purple Visits can a prisoner have a month? ›

Requesting a Purple Visits video call

However, during the Covid-19 pandemic video calls will be limited to one call per month to ensure everyone can be included.

How old is Joe Arpaio? ›

Who is LaTonya Ruffin? ›

LaTonya Ruffin, a candidate for Cook County sheriff, delivers a two-minute statement as part of WTTW's Voter Guide to the primary election.

Who is the chief of police in Coeur D Alene Idaho? ›


Who is the CEO of Kootenai Health? ›

Jon Ness - CEO - Kootenai Health | LinkedIn.

Is there still a Tent City in Arizona? ›

The facility was closed down 24 years later by sheriff Paul Penzone, who defeated Arpaio in 2016. During the time it was open, Tent City was a lightning rod for controversy with the treatment of inmates sparking lawsuits that cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Where was Tent City in AZ? ›

'City of a Thousand': Downtown Phoenix's tent city explodes at alarming rate. PHOENIX - Located within a pocket of streets and sidewalks in downtown Phoenix, the homeless crisis has exploded as there are more than a thousand unsheltered people living on the streets in this area known as "the zone."

Who is Maricopa Sheriff? ›

Paul Penzone (born March 29, 1967) is an American law enforcement officer. He is the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. Penzone was elected sheriff in 2016, defeating longtime incumbent Joe Arpaio. Penzone is a former sergeant in the Phoenix Police Department.

What happened with LaTonya Ruffin? ›

Dolton Police Officer LaTonya Ruffin was disqualified ahead of the June 28 primary after incumbent Sheriff Tom Dart's campaign objected to her filing to run under a last name different from that of her voter registration.


1. Up with KREM 6 a.m., July 10, 2020
(KREM 2 News)
2. 05/30/2019 Kootenai County FY20 Budget Meeting - KCSO
(Kootenai County Idaho)
3. 4/20/2021 Kootenai County State of the County Presentation
(Kootenai County Idaho)
4. 03/18/2021 Kootenai County Public Defense Commission
(Kootenai County Idaho)
5. 12/15/2021 Kootenai County Commissioners Galena Consulting
(Kootenai County Idaho)
6. 10/06/2021 Optional Forms of Government Study Commission
(Kootenai County Idaho)
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