New Sheriff Wants The Public's Trust Back - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

New Sheriff Wants The Public's Trust Back

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KALISPELL - Getting back the public's trust, that's where Lake county's new sheriff sets his sights.

Dan Bell has been in law enforcement in the Valley for more than two decades. He even served with the counter-terrorism unit at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

He won the Lake county sheriff post over current undersheriff Dan Yonkin by a less than ten percent margin. This might be his toughest job yet.

"There's been a problem within what they call the 'good ole boy club' or the 'coyote club' some of the things that's went on, possible cover-ups that have happened," said Bell.

Some of what he's talking about actually went to court. In 2012, a lawsuit filed by five current and former sheriff's department employees against three officers, including Yonkin and current sheriff Jay Doyle, was eventually tossed out. It claimed, though, that the people behind the suit had their rights violated when they admitted to holding different political views than their boss's.

The state's Public Safety Officer Standards and Training (POST) council, a board that certifies and investigates police officers under fire for misconduct, has looked into accusations recently against the sheriff's department centered on officer misconduct running the gamut, both criminal and ethical, including perjury, poaching, nepotism and witness tampering and intimidation.

A former Lake county sheriff's sergeant lost his badge as part of the aftermath.

Overcoming all this might mean some personnel shifts, according to Bell, but the community also faces its own problems.

"There's a lot of issues, but really a lot of them stem from drugs and alcohol abuse," said Bell.

Doyle didn't want to talk about why this would be his first and last four-year term as sheriff.

"I would just like to wish the citizens well and congratulate sheriff Dan Bell," said Doyle.

Bell takes to his post on January 1 since there were no Democratic challengers. He say he wants to serve for at least two more terms.

Bell says he has no idea who he will pick to serve as his undersheriff. He's currently talking to some of the officers.

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