Because You Asked – Uniforms

 

This blog, and subsequent “Because You Asked” blogs are in response to questions asked by you, the community I serve. Each volume will address a question or group of questions. I’ve tried to keep the questions worded as asked, but occasionally have to reword them either to provide context or to combine similar questions. In any case, I’ve tried to retain the questioner(s)’ intent.

Question:

Is wearing your uniform to campaign, while blocking your opponent from doing the same, hypocritical or appropriate from a leader of both the community, and of the men and women who serve the citizens of Washington County?

The answer to this question must first address the rules for campaigning in uniform. Once that is answered, then the “appropriateness” question can be addressed.

Washington County, like most public agencies, has a long-standing policy that prohibits an employee from wearing a uniform or using agency owned or operated equipment, vehicles or other county property to promote or oppose a political candidate or ballot measure. These rules apply to any county employee whose job includes a uniform, not only to Sheriff’s Office uniformed employees. The policy is not intended to stifle anyone’s ambition to hold public office or exercise their right to advocate for or against a ballot measure. Its purpose is to avoid politicizing public sector positions, to maintain focus on service and limit distractions, to protect the reputation and credibility of the County, and to ensure no ambiguity exists about official positions or statements that represent the official views of the County.

Washington County policy, Article 13, Ethical Standards, 13.1.1, Political Activity On The Job, states; “Employees of the County shall not solicit any money, influence, service or other things of value or otherwise aid or promote any political committee or cause, or the nomination or election of any person to public office or passage/defeat of any ballot measure while on the job during working hours. Further, employees shall not use county equipment, materials or other resources to promote any political committee or cause or the nomination or election of any person to public office or passage/defeat of any ballot measure.”

As the sheriff, I have no authority to waive County policy.

The Sheriff’s Office has the same goal as the County and many other city, county or state governments to prohibit use of public resources to promote campaigns or political causes by public employees. Therefore, the Sheriff’s Office has a similar policy as the County on this issue.

The question is do these policies apply to the Sheriff, and why or why not.

The policy applies to employees, not elected officials, such as Sheriff. This is because an elected official is accountable to the electorate.

Unlike an employee, whose official duties and responsibilities are limited to duty hours, an elected official’s duties and responsibilities exist 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, as long as they are in office. The Office of Sheriff (and each county has only one) comes with a sheriff’s uniform and badge – historical symbols of the Office of Sheriff and the responsibility to serve as the chief executive officer of the County. I proudly wear the uniform at the office and in the community. The sheriff has the privilege and responsibility to serve as the public face of the Office of Sheriff and to speak for the Office. Employees do not.

Unlike an employee, an elected official’s responsibilities include advocating on behalf of their organization and electorate on political issues, whether that’s advocating for local option levies that help fund the organization or opposing or supporting legislation that affects the community. What an employee is restricted from doing, an elected official is expected to do. I have been able to do this in a variety of ways, including serving on the Governor’s Drug & Alcohol Policy Commission and advocating for the successful campaign to continue the Washington County Public Safety Local Option Levy in 2015.

So the original question remains, is wearing your uniform to campaign, while blocking your opponent from doing the same, appropriate.

Currently my opponent is a Sheriff’s Office employee. As stated above, I cannot change County policy. Therefore, I can neither block (nor allow) my opponent from wearing a uniform while campaigning.

I can, however, address the appropriateness of me wearing my uniform to campaign.

I believe wearing my uniform while campaigning falls into four categories of appropriateness. I’ve listed an example of each.

  • Necessary – an event or meeting where I am representing the Sheriff’s Office, but could discuss or be asked about a campaign issue. I recently wore my uniform to the county fair and National Night Out events where I showcased the terrific work of our hard-working professionals at the Sheriff’s Office and reinforced the solid relationships we have with our community.
  • Appropriate – an event at which I am campaigning, but that also includes Sheriff’s Office representation at the event or an associated event. A good example would be participation in a parade where I’m clearly campaigning, but at the end I represent the Sheriff’s Office in a booth associated with the parade/event, not my campaign.
  • Unnecessary – a parade or event with no Sheriff’s Office representation, and I am only campaigning, not acting or speaking as the current Sheriff.
  • Inappropriate – door to door campaigning.

When I feel it’s inappropriate or unnecessary, I will not wear my uniform to campaign. However, when I feel it’s necessary or appropriate, I will wear my uniform and will represent the office of sheriff. It’s what I’m charged to do as your Sheriff.

Pat

Thoughts Following Last Thursday

Last Thursday’s events weigh heavily on my heart. I debated whether it was appropriate to speak on the matter in a public forum. I wondered whether addressing more than just the facts was the right thing to do during such a sensitive time. Days later, as one of our deputies still remains in the hospital ICU, I wrestle to put into words my feelings.

 

In the simplest of terms, I feel anger at what someone did to our deputies. I feel pain, helplessness, sadness, and hope – sometimes all at once. Towards the injured deputies and their families I feel indebted and protective. I feel frustrated because I want to control something which is out of my control.

 

I also feel encouraged by the unity and support among Sheriff’s Office staff and their families. Because of this unity we can, and do, reach out to each other for friendship, comfort, and encouragement. Those gestures create a holistic support system and help us better deal with how each of us feels.

 

Most strongly, I feel committed to the affected deputies and their families – to care for and support them – today and always.

 

Pat

National Night Out 2019

National Night Out is a community building program that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. It’s anchored by neighborhood and community gatherings where we reconnect with old friends in our community, in addition to making new. Overall community safety and trust get a shot in the arm on National Night Out because we strengthen our relationships. Deputies answer good questions and get very timely neighborhood updates. National Night Out is great for our entire county because every city also does a great job partnering with neighborhoods that evening.

National Night Out events for this year took place yesterday evening. Every year at this time we are appropriately reminded of the community support we’re fortunate to have for our Sheriff’s Office professionals. We could not successfully accomplish our mission without these neighborhood connections and supportive communities. National Night Out gives us a chance to thank them for that support and to brag a little about the great work our deputies do every day.

Every day deputies display professionalism, grit, and heart as they give back to their community with the important work they do.

For example, one of the many impressive skills Jail deputies develop through training and experience is de-escalation. In Jail, deputies are experts at deescalating potential violence (or on occasion quell actual violence) by using excellent communication skills, patience and, when appropriate, restraints. Using their de-escalation skills to address such challenges is truly impressive to see in action. In concert with Jail Services Technicians and medical staff, Jail deputies do an excellent job at very challenging work to keep inmates safe and maintain a full schedule of events. They are awesome team players and stay flexible to adjust when the unexpected happens.

Recently while with Patrol deputies I was struck by their initiative and follow-through to keep our community safe. After excellent police work on a traffic stop led to an arrest of a meth dealer (admission + dealer-level quantity), deputies put together a plan to catch the “dealer’s dealer.” While their second-layer efforts didn’t pan out that day, such efforts prevail other times. In addition that day, deputies investigated a serious traffic crash on a busy highway, successfully captured a fleeing felon near a park with families and children, and reunited puppies with their lost caretakers.

With our many non-uniform professionals, all our deputies make a terrific team to keep us safe! I am relentlessly thankful for their professionalism, grit, and heart. And I’m also incredibly thankful for all the community members who partner with and support them, and become part of our team!

We’ll see you next year at National Night Out,

Pat

 

“A Simple, Complicated Idea”

“My name is Rachel and I was a victim of domestic violence. I lived with someone who physically and emotionally abused me. I had a near-death experience, not once, but twice! But, I’m one of the lucky ones; I survived, I got away. My near-death experience brought me to a special and safe place. This place is the Family Justice Center…”

(Gwinn, Casey. Dream Big: A Simple, Complicated Idea to Stop Family Violence)

Consider:

  1. In 2017, Oregon lost 32 people in fatal domestic violence incidents (Oregon Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team)
  2. One in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence in their lifetime (National Domestic Violence Hotline)
  3. According to a presentation by Casey Gwinn I attended, unchecked domestic abusers are the same people most likely to assault law enforcement officers
  4. The Family Justice Center (FJC) model has been identified as a best practice in the field of domestic violence intervention and prevention services by the United States Department of Justice

Did you know that Washington County has a Family Justice Center? The Family Justice Center of Washington County coordinates many services to protect a very vulnerable population – domestic violence and abuse survivors. But they don’t do it alone. It takes a community.
Fortunately, we live in a community where members care deeply about protecting domestic violence survivors. Just this morning I was privileged to join the Family Justice Center of Washington County Board President Judy Willey and Hillsboro Police Chief Lee Dobrowolski to thank the Hillsboro Sonrise Church congregation for their very generous donation to the FJC. This donation, together with additional community and civic support, saves lives.

Pastor Gleason, FJC Board Chair Willey, Police Chief Dobrowolski, Sheriff Garrett
Leadership by Judy Willey and Chief Dobrowolski brought together impressive civic support to establish the FJC in Washington County, which opened its doors in March, 2018. Washington County and every city in our county contributed funds necessary to open those doors. As a community we have come to understand that domestic violence is a public safety and public health scourge and must be stopped!
The FJC has a terrific executive director in Toni Loch.

Executive Director Loch and Sheriff Garrett
I served on the interview panel to help select FJC Executive Director Toni Loch from a strong field. She is the right choice. I have come to know Toni as an excellent team builder who is completely committed to her work. She has extensive experience leading resource centers for domestic violence survivors as well as a family wellness organization. She is also a leadership coach. When recently visiting and making closing remarks at Beaverton Rotary, I encouraged members to support the FJC. While highlighting their services I was appropriately interrupted – Beaverton Rotarians know all about the FJC because Toni is a member! She happened to be out that day to talk with another Rotary group about the FJC.
Among the many services coordinated by the FJC are restraining orders, legal advice, remote court, law enforcement, food and housing assistance, counseling and more. Washington County’s Domestic Violence Resource Center is also co-located. Both great organizations serve children as well as adults.
Law enforcement investigators support the FJC when it appears the abuse constitutes criminal conduct. We also help by serving restraining orders and enforcing related orders of the Court. Several agencies staff the Center with one or more investigators, and I have been moved by the accounts of investigators whose work is one part of an important array of services
I strongly support the Family Justice Center of Washington County because it saves lives. Later this year our office will add a full-time investigator at the FJC to better support their work, protect survivors, hold offenders accountable, and prevent harm.
If you’re looking for a way to support the FJC, the annual fundraising dinner is well attended by compassionate, committed community members – check out their website for this year’s dinner. And when you visit their website, find out how you can help our FJC!
Thank you,
Pat

Running for Reelection

Running for reelection to serve as Washington County Sheriff for an additional four years is a decision I do not take lightly. You might well wonder why I feel it’s necessary to continue for a third term as sheriff. Why not step aside at the end of this term and allow the next leader to take over the reins?

The answer to that is the confluence of timing and relationships. This is a critical time of great change in Washington County.

As the population rapidly grows and diversifies, bringing with it a wealth of talent, experience, and strength, we must find ourselves reflecting that diversity – that talent, experience, and strength. To ensure that all justice partners (Jail, Courts, DA’s Office, Juvenile Department, and Parole and Probation) are well-positioned to meet the county’s future needs, the county has embarked on a justice system master planning process. Law enforcement service is not as appealing a profession as it once was. Our jail is hit doubly hard by this fact as it has also maximized its capacity. It needs both more space and more staff.

Relationships are the key to addressing each of these issues of timing. And I have those relationships!

I have strong, well-established, trusting relationships with leaders of diverse communities across the county. We’ve made progress in diversification, but realize we have a long way to go. Together with these partners we will succeed. My strong relationships with our justice partners ensures the justice system master planning process will proceed unabated. With those partners we can more quickly develop solutions to jail crowding that address both space and who is being incarcerated. Finally, as recruiting becomes more challenging and more inventive, my relationships with sheriffs and leaders around the country become an asset.

Being your sheriff for the last seven years has been an honor. And running for re-election is a commitment by me that I will continue to hold the same high standards I have set for myself.

I will continue to act with integrity, lead by example, maintain the highest possible work ethic, listen to you, foster collaboration in our diverse Washington County communities and in the justice community, and value every person who is part of the team that IS the Washington County Sheriff’s Office!

Here are a few of the many accomplishments the Sheriff’s Office team and I have made during my 7-year tenure as Sheriff:

  • Reduced county-wide crime rate (as measured by the FBI) by 10%
  • Established & strengthened numerous partnerships within our diverse community
  • Increased Mental Health Response team to better serve those in crisis
  • Helped design county’s walk-in center to serve those with behavioral health needs
  • Partnered with the Family Justice Center to reduce domestic violence crimes in Washington County
  • Earned the “Accreditation with Excellence” award by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (one of only two Oregon law enforcement agencies with accreditation)
  • Scored 100% on last Oregon Jail Standards inspection & maintained continuous accreditation by the National Commission on Corrections Health Care
  • Won three of the last six Sheriff’s Office Agency of the Year awards for DUII investigation
  • Just opened a world-class law enforcement and jail training center

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has done and WILL KEEP DOING great things, and I want to continue to lead and be part of the effort in this critical moment!

I hope to earn your vote for Washington County Sheriff in May 2020.

Thank you,

Pat