After attending a forum and listening to the candidates for Walla Walla County sheriff, I am convinced John Turner is unjustly inciting fear in our community. Based on these forums, Mr. Turner's major issues of interest are gang-related activity, 24/7 coverage and a K9 unit in Walla Walla County.
After spending some time researching Mr. Turner's three key issues, I would like to offer my perspective on each, one by one.
The city and county of Walla Walla partner to address gang-related activities -- a good use of public funds. From my experiences working for the school district, gang-related activities primarily occur within the city limits of Walla Walla; however, those activities affect everyone in our county and this partnership complements the city gang unit. They work in concert during community events to ensure the public's safety. I'm not sure "gangs" will ever be eliminated but they can certainly be managed and I think our law enforcement professionals have been addressing this issue proactively for several years.
For many years, deputy sheriffs in Walla Walla County have been assigned individual patrol vehicles that they take home after their shift. These deputies live throughout the county from Burbank, west of the county seat to the Waitsburg/Prescott area, northeast of the county seat and are on-call 24/7. Response time to nearly 1,300 square miles in Walla Walla County is minimal. There is one hour in 24 that there is no deputy actually in a patrol vehicle on duty. That has now been limited to only two days a week and for security purposes, that hour remains unknown to the general public.
Since the last K-9 unit was retired in 2009, there have not been qualified applicants within the office and limited monetary resources to hire a new position for a K9 unit.
Overall, I think Mr. Turner is more hype than substance and for that reason I believe Walla Walla County would be best served by Bill White as our county sheriff.