John Bishop, OSSA Executive Director & Retired Curry County Sheriff
Summer, 2017 – As I write this, we are in the middle of May which is when we remember our fellow officers and deputies who have given the ultimate sacrifice. There are only two days in America where by law the flag is to fly at half-staff: Memorial Day and Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15th). This tribute was included in the crime bill signed by President Bill Clinton. In 1962, however, President Kennedy was the one who proclaimed May 15th as “National Officers Memorial Day” and the calendar week in which it falls as “National Police Week.” The 1962 resolution pays recognition to those who have lost their lives in the Line of Duty, for the safety and protection of others.
This year there will be 394 names added to the wall in Washington D.C. They will include the 143 officers who were killed in 2016. An additional 251 names will also be added. These officers were killed in the line of duty in prior years, but their records were not discovered, and the list will also include the names of 75 officers who died due to illnesses directly related to rescue efforts during 911 terrorist attacks.
With the addition of these 394 names, the National Memorial will bear the names of 21,183 officers representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, Federal Law Enforcement, and Military police agencies, all who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our nation’s history. As I look back on my 30-year career, I cannot think how blessed I am not to have been seriously injured or killed, and I also need to remember the men and women I worked beside who died in the line of duty. As their names are read every year I am reminded of each of their personality, smiles, quirks, and more importantly how each of them impacted their communities and the terrible pain the families endured. We will never forget … I will never forget their sacrifice.
Additionally OSSA’s remodel is nearly complete and, of course, our members are invited to stop anytime and take a look for themselves.
The state legislature is still in session and to say it has been challenging is an understatement. Our lobbyist Kevin Campbell and our Legislative Chair Sheriff Jason Myers have worked nonstop in getting bad bills quashed and helpful bills pushed through. While we all work as a team, those two spearhead the effort. We haven’t been 100% successful, but given the cards we are dealing with so far, we feel that some accomplishments have been made.
Another issue for the Sheriffs is the eclipse this summer. Oregon has been deemed as one of the best places in the nation to observe this event which hasn’t happened since 1979. Some estimates have put visitors in the range of 2.5 million. All campgrounds are full, motels are full, and there are still more people coming to view without any reservations, and numerous parties are being planned, some of which boast to be over 25,000 people. While this may be great for the economy and a once-in-a-lifetime event, sheriffs in our smaller counties could easily be overrun and short of resources. The sheriffs are working together to get deputies where they need to be. Our concern is people will be in rural Oregon and may not have much experience in a rural environment, and while everyone will take days to arrive, they will all want to leave at the same time, overloading our roads and local resources. We ask that everyone enjoy the event but take your time, be aware of your surroundings, and help your neighbor out if needed.
All of our councils are in full swing, and many of their conferences are currently going on or have just concluded. Our new Jail Standards have been finished, as well as our updated Civil Manual. As we head into our busy summer months, we look forward to new challenges, trainings, and working together to make our communities safe. We also are continuing our membership drive and magazine publication.
OSSA is here to serve our sheriffs, and you our members.
God Bless our sheriffs and their deputies, and God Bless the United States of America.