Conservators of the Peace

Columbia County

Sheriff Jeff Dickerson

Columbia County Sheriff's Office

901 Port Avenue
St. Helens, OR 97051

tel: 503-366-4611
fax: 503-366-4644

About Sheriff Dickerson

Jeff Dickerson was elected Sheriff in 2008. Since that time Sheriff Dickerson has overseen a transformation of the Sheriff’s Office into a customer-service oriented organization. Employees have been empowered to make decisions at the point of service delivery and to take responsibility for their actions. Training has focused on improvement of customer service and technical/tactical skills.

New policies are in place that reflect the highest standards of professional corrections and public safety performance. Deputies know the Sheriff puts a high premium on taking the right actions, at the right time, and for the right reasons. One of his favorite mottos is “in conserving the peace and protecting the rights of all people, it is important to do what we do–not because we can, but because we should.” The Sheriff views the office of the elected Sheriff as the one most readily suited to protect all people’s rights in his jurisdiction, and he regularly promotes this concept to his front line staff.

Since his election in 2008, ongoing budget cuts and loss of personnel have left the Sheriff’s Office unable to carry out the mission of the Sheriff in the fulness of which we would like. Recent losses in general fund revenue at the county have exacerbated an already tenuous situation.

The sheriff has committed himself to fulfilling the broad range of duties constitutionally and statutorily established for his office, even in the face of deep budget cuts and staff reductions. The demands on the office and the limited resources provided have required a balancing act to make sure there are enough resources allocated to the various responsibilities to be successful.

The Sheriff is also committed to a longer-term business plan that provides for cost analysis and resource allocation over the next five years. In order to assure the resources can be stretched out over that period of time, conservation of resources in early years will yield enough to pay for services in the later years.

In order to do this, changes are neccessary in the manner in which the Sheriff responds to calls for service and in the protocol for receiving and housing arrested subjects in the jail.

Those changes include:

  • Setting the standard by which new custodies will be housed in the jail
  • Establishing a book and release policy for most misdemeanor and some felony crimes
  • Setting a maximum jail capacity of 40 – 60 beds for local uses of the jail (depending on the availability of outside support revenue from bed rentals)
  • Setting in motion a plan to conserve the use of enforcement deputies, by changing the response to 9-1-1 calls from reactive, to a review-and-respond-as-appropriate regime).

These are trying times for public safety, and local sheriff’s offices are struggling to provide all the services mandated to them by state law. We are working hard to find ways to maximize our limited resources for the good of the citizens we serve.

About the Columbia County Sheriff's Office


Spring, 2017 – The Criminal Investigation Unit has been busy this past fall/winter. The team investigated an assault with life-threatening injuries that occurred during a fight in Clatskanie, worked with the Patrol Unit to crack a mail theft ring working in several counties, including our own, worked on what was determined to be an accidental fire in the Rainier area where one man died, and worked with the Columbia Enforcement Narcotics Team to take down drug dealers in the Clatskanie area.

The Enforcement Division grew by two new deputies with the addition of the Clatskanie contract. The city pays for administration of the contract and 2.5 enforcement officers in the city, for about 12 hours per day of patrol coverage and four hours per day of supervisory coverage. The city pays 85 percent of the cost, and the county pays the other 15 percent, enabling deputies to venture outside the city limits to take calls when necessary, but spending most of their time in the city. In working with the city council, we adjust to the city’s needs, but also provide additional investigative support along with clerical support. Police activity inside the city has been shown to have increased due largely to a commitment to be seen in the city and engaged in enforcement actions when warranted. Traffic stops have increased dramatically during commute hours through town over what they were a year ago.

The sheriff is working with stakeholders and partners both through the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council and local police, fire, and mental health services providers to address the growing concern for people who commit minor crimes and end up in jail due to mental illness. The jail is the only place in our county where disruptive, potentially violent people in mental health crisis are ending up. While we are glad to provide this service to help keep the county safe, we are concerned long-term for the people who are being brought here. We are not a treatment facility, even though we provide mental health services to keep inmates safe. There are no answers, only questions, right now, but we are seeking to work together toward an answer to this sensitive problem.

The Sheriff’s Office has recently placed our entire employee policy manual online in pdf format. Those interested can find the link to these policies on our web page (in the upper left corner, main menu) at

2017 Oregon Sheriffs’ Annual Conference

Countdown to Conference


Message from the OSSA President

washington-pat-garrettAs the newly elected president, I am honored to represent all 36 Oregon sheriffs.

The sheriff has historically been the chief executive officer of the county, and this is still true under Oregon law. Elected by you and answering directly to the voters, your sheriff can be an effective voice of the people in the serious work of protecting the community. OSSA enables us to work together to serve you best.

By way of introduction, I am in my second term as the Washington County Sheriff, where deputies serve over a half million residents across 727 square miles of rural areas, urban communities, and cities. Our deputies also operate the only county jail. While Oregon counties are diverse in terms of climate, population, and economic drivers, your sheriffs work together to solve problems and challenges that we have in common.

The sheriffs of America have always played a significant role in the history of our nation; in fact, the office of Sheriff was the first county office established in the United States. Also, the first person to read the Declaration of Independence publicly was Philadelphia Sheriff John Nixon in Pennsylvania in 1776.

I look forward to working together to strengthen the office of Sheriff and the communities we proudly serve. Thank you for your continued support of the men and women on shift every day to keep our diverse and proud communities safe.


Pat Garrett
President and Washington County Sheriff.

Jail vs. Prison … What’s the Difference?

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