Lane Campbell wants to be the kind of sheriff who knows his community because he spends time in his community.
Campbell, a deputy with the Island County Sheriff’s Office, announced this week that he will run for sheriff in November’s election. He’s the second person from within the department to announce his candidacy.
Chief Criminal Deputy Rick Felici said in February that he wants to replace Sheriff Mark Brown, who isn’t running again in November.
Campbell has been a deputy with the department for more than 27 years and was in law enforcement for 10 years before that. Even with a lengthy career behind him, he still loves his job, he said, and wants to lead the department with a community-based approach to law enforcement.
Campbell views the role of police officer as part social worker.
“I think it’s just as important to be able to keep people out of jail than to put them in,” he said.
That means, he said, that it’s vital for law enforcement to communicate with a wide range of people and give those in need information about services that could help them. It’s a lot of problem solving, he said, and above all, helping people when and where he can.
As a road deputy, Campbell said he’s constantly interacting with the public and knows many of the people he deals with on a first-name basis. He doesn’t want to lose that connection with the public, which is why he plans to implement a policy to make sure that doesn’t happen. He said he and his administrative staff will go out on the road with deputies on a rotating basis.
“I want people to know we’re accessible and approachable,” he said.
He also will have an open-door policy for his employees.
“I want them to feel like they have a say in what is happening,” he said.
Campbell said he has plans for implementing new and innovative community programs with an emphasis on early detection, prevention and trust building. He said the programs must follow his common-sense criteria, which are to be proven effective, sustainable and have adequate follow-through.
At the same time, Campbell said he is serious about fighting crime. He has witnessed the way that drugs, especially opioids, have caused so much damage to so many families. He wants to go after the drug dealers and plans to bring back a drug detective position within the department.
“My plan is to go after those who are dealing,” he said. “Those are the individuals who are killing our society.”
Campbell said his decision to run for sheriff has nothing to do with any animosity between him and Felici. Both men say they will make their cases to the public and let the voters decide.
Brown endorsed Felici earlier in the year and said he stands by the endorsement, though he won’t actively campaign. He admits to being a little worried that the competing campaigns will become a divisive issue within the department, but he will do his best to ensure that politics stays out of the office.
Kelly Mauck, Brown’s former undersheriff, endorsed Campbell. Mauck said he has no vested interest in the outcome — beyond what is best for the community — and will not be returning to the job.
“Lane has always distinguished himself as one of the hardest working, most competent deputies in Island County,” Mauck wrote. “His performance has always been distinguished and has resulted in numerous accolades to include three prestigious life saving medals.
“Lane has remained extremely motivated and professional in his duties in spite of an exceptionally long law enforcement career. This is a very rare quality.”