Leadership in Public Safety
From our executive team to first line supervisors, we strive to empower leaders with clear objectives and grant them ownership with accountability for decision-making, refining our collective abilities along the way. We reinforce with supervisor leadership seminars and support outside leader development training. Opportunities in this knowledge area are growing and I look forward to bringing additional leader development programs in the future.
Recruiting and Retention
Sheriff’s Office professionals are problem solvers, made more effective when our team has varied backgrounds and experience. To better resemble our changing county demographics and cast a wider recruitment net to better serve you, we changed our in-house recruit process to use the “National Testing Network.” Also, we send recruitment teams to events like the Portland Women’s Expo, Fiesta en el Parque, Diversity Fair, Latino Career events, Beaverton and Portland Pride events, Oregon Women Veterans, other career fairs for those transitioning out of the military, and more. Recruit classes show these changes are making a difference.
Like many places in our region and beyond, it’s challenging to find and retain high quality people interested in a law enforcement field. These and other factors have produced high overtime rates in some areas, most notably our Jail. We have implemented several strategies and are exploring other improvements in this area.
A respectful workplace is important to me because it promotes professional communication, fairness, accepts diverse people and thought, is more engaging, productive and feels safe. My commitment to fostering a respectful workplace is why I personally instructed 16 Civility classes last year which included our expectations for work behaviors, and followed senior leader instruction in this area in preceding years. These classes, combined with providing multiple ways to report a complaint, thorough investigations in concert with Human Resources, and accountability outcomes based on facts are important elements to fostering a respectful workplace for everyone.
I made being fiscally responsible one of the Sheriff’s Office strategic goals. As a result, we work hard and are thoughtful about spending your tax dollars appropriately while ensuring our professionals are properly trained and equipped to serve you well and stay safe. By prioritizing fiscal discipline, we regularly come in under-budget. For the budget year ending in June, 2019, estimates show we returned about 8.2% of our General Fund budgeted amount, 6.2% of the Public Safety Local Option Levy budget, and 4.9% of the District Patrol budget which together equals a return of about $6.4 million which helps the county’s beginning fund balance the following year. Noteworthy, these funds could not be used to increase Jail beds or create additional positions.
Strong Voter Support for District Patrol
Voters in the Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol District renewed a policing levy by a strong 76% Yes vote in 2017, owing to our team’s effective police services at a reasonable cost to the District’s approximately 210,000 residents.
While I prioritize building community relationships, I am joined by many across our office equally engaged and committed. Examples include helping to plan and conduct numerous Bridge-Building events where regional law enforcement agencies and underrepresented communities come together to improve mutual understanding about how we can better serve our community and each other. Deputies are regular speakers at Community Participation Organization (CPO) meetings. School Resource Officer deputies partner closely with our kids and educators. Our law enforcement team in Aloha joins our friends at Aloha Business Association meetings.
While not a traditional law enforcement issue, homelessness is one of the biggest challenges of our time and needs our attention and big ideas. I have a unique perspective from my work on the Homeless Planning Advisory Committee, the Governor’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, running a Jail, and from ongoing discussions with deputies who interact with homeless individuals in their work. Chronic homelessness intersects with addiction and mental illness. Many of us know someone impacted by the scourge of addiction and understand it actually changes the brain’s decision-making process, leaving the person forever vulnerable to relapse. Too many homeless individuals end up in our Jail and other jails across Oregon due to low-level criminal conduct which is simply a symptom of their illness. We must work together across Oregon for a safe, humane way to address this challenge. We must make a commitment that equals the scope of this challenge, funded by a significant public-private venture to establish an integrated model which resembles the following:
- Regional emergency homeless shelters with basic accommodations like food, restrooms, showers, health services which also include:
- Co-located treatment services able to accept new people at any time to include mental health, residential and outpatient addiction intervention, treatment and recovery.
- Coordinated with, and supported by, our Court system and Jail services to change course from criminalizing homelessness to connecting with resources.
- Directly connected to transition resources like housing, employment and education.
- In addition to paid staff, incentivize volunteers with academic credits and school loan forgiveness.
- Focus our universities in Oregon with schools of Public Health to apply the academic rigor to research and help find better solutions.
Our non-profit treatment providers are very strong in this area and should play an important role in meeting this challenge. Oregon ranks near the bottom as a state for services related to behavioral health. Our current path endangers our justice and health systems without bold, creative initiatives. I look forward to discussing and exploring this more.