Running for sheriff

After a career in the U.S. Army and eight years with the Coos County Sheriff's Office, Gabriel Fabrizio has decided to run for sheriff in 2022.

Gabriel Fabrizio has served his community his whole adult life, first in the U.S. Army and for the last eight years as a member of the Coos County Sheriff's Office.

Recently, Fabrizio announced he hopes to continue that service in a new role - as sheriff.

Fabrizio, who currently works as a captain in the sheriff's office, announced last month he is running for sheriff. Incumber Sheriff Craig Zanni has not announced if he plans on seeking another term, but Fabrizio said he met with Zanni before announcing his run.

"He gave his support for me putting my name in, which is wonderful," Fabrizio said.

Before entering law enforcement, Fabrizio served in psychological operations in the Army. He served four terms in war zones and retired in 2013. That's when he began looking for a second career.

Initially, Fabrizio was leaning toward joining the Border Patrol in Arizona, but he and his wife really wanted to return to the Oregon coast, a place they lived while Fabrizio was a recruiter for the Army.

After moving to Coos County, Fabrizio started looking for a job, a second career.

"I hadn't honestly considered much of a career in law enforcement, but seeing that had positions to fill, I decided to try it, and I loved it," Fabrizio said.

Once he was hired as a patrol deputy, Fabrizio went all in. He volunteered to serve in any way possible.

"I always did a ton of positions inside the sheriff's office," he said. "When the captain position came open three years ago this month, the sheriff asked if I was interested. A lot of the skills I had in the Army carried over."

Fabrizio was hired as the administrative captain, where he oversees all the internal aspects of the department, including budgeting. Making the move was easy in some aspects but harder in others. Fabrizio said the hardest change was letting other deputies lead the way during big incidents.

"It's a pretty huge paradigm shift," he said. "Probably the hardest thing for any leader to do is to sit back and watch other people do."

Fabrizio said he as considered a run for sheriff for two years before deciding to make the leap. The nonpartisan seat currently has two announced candidates. If no more run, the race will be decided in the November 2022 election. If more candidates join, a primary will be required in May.

"I've been considering it a long time," Fabrizio said. "I made the decision, and once it became reality, I took the leap forward."

Fabrizio said there are big issues facing the sheriff's office. One that is discussed a lot is the reduction of inmates that can be held in the county jail. With fewer inmates allowed, some people charged with crimes are released pending trial.

"It's not just the staffing or COVID related, it's regulations," Fabrizio said. "I've been talking to the commissioners about plans for the future."

Another issue is hiring enough personnel, both patrol deputies and jail deputies.

"Finding people who are interested and qualified is a challenge," Fabrizio said. "Sheriff Zanni has done a good job of screening people."

Another constant issue is limited funding. With county funding limited, Fabrizio said it requires the department to be creative.

"We try to operate on a limited budget," he said. "I hear a lot of mumbling about how many new vehicles we have. We actually subsist off getting used vehicles from other agencies."

Fabrizio said one of his goals as a captain and if he's elected as sheriff is to increase cooperation between the sheriff's office and other law enforcement agencies in the county.

"I've really tried to spearhead inner efficiencies and cooperation between the sheriff's office and other departments," he said. "I actually joined the fire department. I'm a volunteer firefighter in Coquille. That's to get a better understanding. It's super important to have cooperation between agencies."

As he campaigns for office, Fabrizio said he plans to start slow, but hopes to get the word out to as many voters as possible.

"I definitely don't want to inundate or bombard the people over the holidays," he said. "After the holidays, I'll begin going to town halls or hosting town halls."

Fabrizio said running for office is never a solo effort, and he said his wife, Chancy, and their 13-year-old daughter are fully supportive.

"My wife is my hero," Fabrizio said. "She's probably the most aggressively compassionate person I know."

Fabrizio admits moving to the top spot in the sheriff's office will be a big change, but he's ready for the challenge.

"It's important, it's super important," he said. "It's also daunting being in charge of the peace for 65,000 people."

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