Protecting WW County requires high standards

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Deputies and staff members at the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office and our community have heard me reiterate these principles many times.

Still, I believe these principles are important enough that they are worth revisiting.

I care deeply about the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office and our community. I believe strongly the badge we are privileged to wear is a symbol of public trust. Those of us who have chosen to provide public service as a career also receive a public paycheck.

With this privilege, trust and paycheck come a higher responsibility and a higher code of conduct. I believe that to properly protect and serve our community, maintaining these high standards is a necessary and ongoing process.

As part of these standards, I also wish to make clear that retaliation and discrimination, by anyone, have no place and are not welcome in our Sheriff’s Office.

I would also like to respond to what I believe is misinformation stated in a recent newspaper article read by many in our community.

Sgt. Cooper remains a full-time peace officer and employee of this Sheriff’s Office. His current duty status does not affect his ability to participate in Deputies Association business or current contract negotiations.

The men and women of the WWSO who go into harm’s way each day rely heavily upon their teammates to be fit for duty, meet minimum requirements and the essential functions of their job.

We wish him well in his recuperation, and his job remains open for his return to full duty when he is able.

In order to protect our county and properly run our Sheriff’s Office, I constantly check my decisions, command staff decisions and our direction as an agency with the county’s personnel/risk manager, the county’s Civil Service Commission, my command staff, other members of our Sheriff’s Office and other sheriffs and chiefs in our state whom I trust and admire. But not everyone agrees with our decisions, and they are sometimes misconstrued.

That is often the case with difficult employment decisions. But I can assure you that we, as a team, do everything we can to ensure all decisions are based upon the vision, mission and core values of our Sheriff’s Office, which can be found on the first page of our website (co.walla-walla.wa.us/departments/she/index.shtml or bit.ly/15iO6W0).

Often times, I wish that I could share more details with the public, but in most cases, as with personnel matters, there are facts that are legally prohibited from being disclosed due to the employee’s privacy rights and other lawful considerations. When making personnel decisions, I think about the situation from a broad perspective and ask myself, “If this were any of our employees, in the same situation, would I make the same decision?”

Decisions, after careful consideration and counsel, are based upon facts and made in the best interest of the Sheriff’s Office and the community we serve. These practices help to ensure that all decisions are consistent, fair and made without bias or favor.

There are some exciting things happenings at the Sheriff’s Office I would like to share:

New Deputy Graduates No. 1 from Academy

Our newest deputy, Christopher Johnson, graduated No. 1 in his class from the Basic Law Enforcement Academy on March 19.

Deputy Johnson is a graduate of Walla Walla High School and a captain in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He is another great example of the quality people choosing the Sheriff’s Office for a career.

Since January 2011, the Sheriff’s Office has had two top graduates, one ranked second and one ranked third from the Basic Law Enforcement and the Corrections Officer academies.

He should be congratulated on a job well done and welcomed aboard. We’re glad to have such high caliber people on our team.

K-9 Teams are Ready to Protect & Serve

Two new K-9 teams were certified on April 11 after ten weeks of rigorous training. K-9’s have a long, proven history of being tremendous assets to the communities they serve.

These dogs protecting and serving our neighborhoods would not have been possible without the generous support of our community. These dog teams graduated No. 1 and No. 2 in their class and are great examples of our community’s “can do” attitude. When one avenue to accomplish something needed wasn’t available, our community figured out another way to get ‘er done! Our gratitude goes out to the Walla Walla Sheriff’s Foundation and those citizen donors who made this possible for the benefit of all.

School Safety “Walk & Talks

Our school safety program is going well with deputies visiting schools on a regular basis. We call it our school “Walk & Talks.” Deputies walk and talk with faculty, staff and students at our area schools. Emergency drills are being planned. The program has been well received and the deputies appreciate all the positive feedback we’ve been receiving.

Stolen Items Recovered

A joint team of sheriff’s deputies and Walla Walla Police detectives served several search warrants stemming from a rash of burglaries. Literally thousands of stolen items were recovered and several arrests were made. It was great teamwork between our two agencies. If you have been the victim of a theft or burglary, you are encouraged to contact your local law enforcement agency because we just might have recovered your property.

And Finally

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our new K-9 teams via the Sheriff’s Foundation. These dogs will be a significant benefit to our entire community and crime fighting efforts. As community K-9 events take place, I hope you come out and meet them.

Thank you for the honor of being your sheriff. As always, feel free to contact me at (509) 524-5400 or sheriff@co.walla-walla.wa.us. It is a pleasure to serve you.

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