An interview with Lorne Houle candidate for Carson City Sheriff

Lorne Houle and Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong - image - Nevada Capital News.
Lorne Houle and Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong participated in a League of Women Voters forum on October 15 of this year - image - Nevada Capital News.

Carson City – Lorne Houle is a candidate for Carson City Sheriff and recently stopped by the KNVC studio and recorded and interview with Brian Bahouth.

A sense of civic responsibility drives Lorne Houle to run for Carson City Sheriff against a long-time and well-known incumbent.

“I feel like this is my moral responsibility to step up and do something,” Houle said.  “Nobody else ran against Sheriff Furlong. A lot of people are content with the way he’s running business, but there is more of a percentage of people who don’t care and don’t get involved, and I think that is sad for a community.  Everybody should be involved and care about the place that they live.”

Lorne Houle said he has an intimate understanding of what he views as one of the most pressing threats to public safety in Carson City: the proliferation of illegal drugs and the cycle of arrest-incarceration-release-arrest.  

“I was troubled when I was a teen, and hung around these type of individuals,” Houle said.  “I’ve learned how they operate, how they think, so I really want to focus on reducing that here, and a lot of the time it’s because of recidivism.  They’ll go to jail. They’ll come out. They’ll commit the exact same things, and a lot of times it’s easier for them to or it’s a better lifestyle.  It’s sad to say jail is a lot better than their home life, so that’s one thing that I want to focus on. I want to try to get them out of the situation, and one of the ways that we’re going to do that at the sheriff’s department is through a release to work program.”

Houle said the prospect of a job upon release from incarceration could be the key to breaking the cycle of interaction with the legal justice system.

“It (having a work-release job) gives them something to look forward to when getting out because a lot of these individuals go through the motions with alternative sentencing, or they go through the motions of what the court stipulates that they must do, but other than those things they really don’t have structure, and they really don’t know what they are going to do until they come out, and they usually go back to those same types of situations that got them there in the first place.”

Houle has some law enforcement experience from his time in the Marine Corps, but has never been a civilian police officer and would have to attend police academy training to become sheriff, so we asked Mr. Houle if he has attempted to become a police officer in Carson City or elsewhere before running for sheriff.

“I thought about it and this sort of stems from my last election in 2014 when I ran.  I knew at that point that going up against Sheriff Furlong it wasn’t going to be an easy task to join the sheriff’s department here because of the conflict that him and I have had in the past and even more … now I think that my chances of getting on the department here next to zero,” Houle said with a shrug of the shoulders.  “I have attempted when I got out of the service, I did attempt to go to the Orange County Sheriff’s regional training academy in Orange California, and I was two weeks there, and it didn’t work out,” Said Houle. “The current administration in Orange County. The sheriff was under investigation for things that I thought a sheriff shouldn’t be under investigation for, so I didn’t want anything to do with that department, and I had planned later on to do something like that, but life got in the way, and I have a family.  I had to take care of business, so I couldn’t focus 100 percent on that.”

The Carson City Sheriff’s Office has a roughly $19 million dollar annual budget and some 150 paid employees and as many volunteers.  We asked Mr. Houle about his qualifications and the skills he would bring to his administration of the Carson City Sheriff’s Office.

“I don’t have the traditional degrees and the ‘wrap sheet’ I used at the debate that Kenny Furlong has, but those sorts of things do come with time,” Houle said.  “I’ve told people this many times, you don’t need a big fancy degree to be a great person with great ideas.

“I don’t want to say my thinking alone qualifies me because your thinking can’t really qualify you for anything, but I believe that the sheriff’s department is one of kindness. It is one of tolerance or a certain tolerance level, and I believe that the sheriff’s department is there to serve justice or the peace, and I believe that these qualities with a sheriff in a sheriff’s department, passing those types of traits down to the deputies in order to effectively communicate with  the community, I don’t think you can get a degree in that anywhere, and so I think that those qualities would certainly improve relations within the community and the sheriff’s department, so we can kind of start building the trust and start mending things with bad reputations that police have from the community,” Houle said. “My humility I think would allow us to also achieve that because I have the willingness to learn from others, and we have approximately 90 to 97 active deputies on the force, and so just assuming that thy all have 5 years experience, that’s a lot, and a lot have more, but that is a lot of years experience that I can call on and say, ‘hey, what do you think of these ideas?  How do you think we can implement this into the community.

“So my job as sheriff would not be out there karate kicking people and handcuffing people, doing the dirty work, my job as sheriff, it’s basically administration.  It has to deal with a lot of people working ensuring that policies and procedures are followed.  So when somebody thinks the sheriff, that they’re the ones out there with a gun and they’re walking around and doing a lot of it, but a lot of it’s political.  A lot of it is administration, so I think that the more people grasp that, I think that they kind of relax on the idea that I don’t have police skills because I’m not the one out there policing.  I’m in charge of that division but I leave it to the deputies, the qualified persons out there on the street level to perform their jobs well when interacting with the community.”

For more from Lorne Houle, listen to the audio interview embedded above …