COQUILLE — Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni is seeking reelection this fall after almost eight years in office.
Zanni is a fourth generation police officer, with son and nephews continuing the legacy. He’s spent 40 years with the Coos County Sheriff’s Office, after moving to Oregon from California.
“I’ve worked almost every position in the Sheriff’s Office, but there is a lot of them. I’ve probably worked a majority of them though. Being a narcotics detection canine handler was my favorite job,” Zanni said.
Most of Zanni’s career was spent working with the Major Crimes Team, he was a search and rescue diver for the sheriff’s office for 15 years, and he served on the county SWAT team for 25 years.
“I was an administrative sergeant years ago, which gave me a lot of the background for the position I have. I was responsible for staffing, financing, and equipment for the Sheriff’s Office,” Zanni said.
After he retired, Zanni came back to the CCSO because he felt there were things that needed to be taken care of.
“When I came back as Sheriff we had five patrol deputies, we have 15 now. We’re finding ways to fund additional deputies at no additional cost to the general fund, which is a big deal, because we are short of funds. We’ve upgraded not only our programs but also our pay for our deputies,” Zanni said.
One thing Zanni is very proud of accomplishing during his tenure as Sheriff is working with county commissioners to raise wages for deputies. Until recently the Sheriff’s Office has had trouble retaining staff because of its outdated pay scale.
“I had senior staff going to work for other agencies because they were offered more at the bottom of the pay scale at other agencies than at the top of our pay scale. With the help of the Board of Commissioners, we’ve fixed that and we don’t have that problem anymore,” Zanni said.
Zanni believes the adjusted pay was a huge help in hiring enough staff to open the jail up to 98 available beds at the beginning of March.
There are two ongoing projects Zanni hopes to focus on if he is reelected. The first is to update the county’s failing radio system, and the second is to make 155 jail beds available.
“Getting to 155 beds and finding stabilized funding for public safety in Coos County would be my primary objective… We need to find a way to provide adequate funding so that people will have at least a minimum standard of public safety services. I think we’re close to that but we still need to add a few more people. Our response times are way too long, and our jail capacity should be higher,” Zanni said.