Well, 2018 sure went fast, and 2019 seems to be going even quicker. We are currently in the legislative session, and it appears it’s going to be worse than the 2017 session. With one party having a majority in the House and Senate we are seeing many bills that could really harm public safety. However, we remain committed to working with legislators who are willing to work with us on community safety issues. See our article “A multi-faceted approach to reducing gun violence, while preserving Second Amendment rights” on page 19 of the Oregon Sheriff magazine – spring 2019 edition.
We feel that as sheriffs, part of our job is to help inform legislators about what it is that we do as sheriffs. Many people feel that sheriffs are really no different than municipal police or the state police, and that is not an accurate assumption. Your sheriff is the highest-ranking law enforcement official in your county, and the job they do is very different than any other law enforcement agency. Your sheriff has an excellent partnership with all of your city, state and federal partners and we are continually striving to do better.
While your sheriff does have patrols and enforcement which are similar, the similarities pretty much stop there. Your sheriff oversees the county jail, court security, search and rescue, civil division, emergency management, marine patrol, and forest patrol. Some sheriffs also oversee community corrections, 911 dispatch, and communications, along with animal control. So as we have mentioned, their jobs are a little different as they are basically in every part of the justice system, and we feel our knowledge can be a huge benefit to the legislature in crafting numerous laws that help public safety.
OSSA’s goal this year is to continue to increase our training in a multitude of areas, including leadership, search management, tactical deployment, child and domestic abuse, jail issues, behavioral health, drug abuse, mental health, civil, community corrections, records retention, and executive management, to name a few. We will be hosting over 17 trainings, and training over 1,800 individuals in several different aspects of public safety.
Several of your sheriffs and myself will be attending different conferences around the country to see what they have to offer, along with training them in aspects of Oregon public safety and what OSSA does. The state of Oregon and OSSA have become leaders in the nation on how we tackle some of these very difficult issues and are now being asked to help other states on the same issues.
Please know that your sheriffs are up to the challenges we are currently facing, and we will always consider ourselves problem solvers and “conservators of the peace” in your communities and in our state.