It is time for the Walla Walla County commissioners to remember that Sheriff Turner is an elected official. The majority of the residents in the county elected him.
I can't speak for others who voted, but I voted for a man of character, integrity and the law enforcement experience to be proactive to the changes that have come and will continue to come to this county.
There was a time when all the county needed was a sheriff and a couple of deputies to keep the peace. That was a time when most citizens were armed and the majority were law abiding. Those times are past. Now we have gangs, multiple drugs, broken homes and other problems.
Short-term and longer-range planning will be essential to deal with those challenges. Sheriff Turner has made a reasonable request to meet and plan with commissioners. The demand that commissioners meet with the sheriff only in open recorded sessions is ridiculous and ignores the fact that there are elements in the county who would take advantage of public information. It would be like demanding that the FBI meet with the Legislature in open, recorded session to deal with organized crime.
Sheriff Turner and his staff know how to plan for law enforcement, but he needs cooperation of the commissioners to plan the financial part.
A recent example, since corrected, was that almost all the body armor was out of date and out of warranty. You do not want criminals to have that information. A few of those vests should have been replaced on a regular basis to ensure that deputies were protected and the county was not faced with the need to replace them all at once or a very expensive lawsuit.
In fact, all of Sheriff Turner's current one-time requests would have been eliminated or drastically reduced by past appropriate planning. That happened under the current commissioners. Either they did not know, or ignored requests.
In either case, the needs are now public and planning to correct and prevent future occurrences is something commissioners need to provide the sheriff. This resident expects cooperation and an end to character attacks that increase the liability of county citizens when the sheriff has to testify in a suit against the county involving his department.
Let's focus on what has been accomplished this first year in office: 24/7 coverage, better deputy moral, steps to correct the "radio" problem, generally accepted business practice in the office, regular open meetings with public, the Sheriff's Foundation to raise funds to meet needs for the office that commissioners will not, and more.