Last week, Lake County Sheriff Don Bell sent a letter to media outlets throughout western Montana responding to allegations by his primary opponent David Coffman.

Coffman contacted KGVO News and said his complaint regarding Sheriff Bell went beyond just the matter of the need for a new jail for Lake County.

“As the chief law enforcement officer for the residents of Lake County, he hasn’t provided a plan to actually have a new jail facility funded and built,” Coffman said. “What I think he should have done in his first year of office, he should have presented three different plans and options to the commissioners. They would have included  funding streams to actually have it built, the size, the location. But, what’s been going on for the last three years are just temporary stopgap measures. More of the same that has been going on for the past 20 years. We know the criminal justice system in Lake County is in crisis, but now we’re three out of four years in a term and we don’t have a plan in place to actually solve this problem.”

Coffman explained his reason for running for sheriff.

“There are consequences for the public’s safety,” he said. “We need somebody with the leadership and the vision to move forward with the plan to actually have the jail built and unify the criminal justice system in Lake County for the betterment of the community.”

Coffman said he retires after working for an agency in California for 30 years, and then spent six years in the jails in the area as a deputy and as a sergeant, watch commander and operations commander for a jail with over 2,000 inmates.

“I feel I have the skills and training to turn this thing around,” he said.