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home : current news : current news October 23, 2017

10/3/2017 12:29:00 PM
DCSO adding patrol deputies
By Craig Rullman

After a tumultuous couple of years that saw several high-ranking officials terminated, a captain sent to prison, and deputy and former sheriff candidate Eric Kozowski placed on administrative leave last week for alleged policy violations, The Nugget recently spoke with Deschutes County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sergeant William Bailey about the current state of the sheriff's office.

In reference to the widely reported spate of personnel issues that plagued the department, Sgt. Bailey said, "We are forward-looking. There is much to do and we don't have time to be looking back. We are committed to the future."

Sgt. Bailey shared Sheriff Shane Nelson's pleasure in the addition of three lateral hires: one new deputy from an agency in California, and two others from a department in Oregon, bringing the total number of patrol deputies to 41. Sergeant Bailey told The Nugget that by November the Sheriff will reclassify three field technician positions to deputies, bringing the total number of patrol deputies to 44, not including detectives or forest patrol positions.

"The important part for Sisters," Sgt. Bailey said, "is that there is always one deputy assigned to the Sisters area providing 24-hour coverage."

The sheriff is also hiring two computer forensic specialists to assist deputies and detectives in the increasingly complex criminal investigations of the digital and computer age.

Sheriff Nelson has also hired a total of 10 new corrections deputies.

Lateral transfers - deputies with prior law enforcement experience elsewhere - will attend a 14-week field-training program with field training officers before hitting the streets of Deschutes County on their own.

Sgt. Bailey noted that Sheriff's deputies remain busy. In the month of August DCSO responded to 3,654 calls for service, 138 vehicle collisions, and made 1,246 vehicle stops - only 16 percent of which resulted in a citation. In addition, deputies made nearly 3,000 self-initiated stops or investigations, responded to 91 domestic incidents, and made 624 bookings at Deschutes County Jail.

In the face of a nationwide opioid epidemic, a problem also effecting Deschutes County, Sheriff Nelson told The Nugget last year that DCSO deputies would begin carrying Narcan - also known as Naloxone - in every patrol vehicle. Narcan blocks the effects of opioids and reverses overdoses and is used by law enforcement agencies across the country.

"We have used it," Sgt. Bailey said. "We (DCSO deputies) are usually the first on scene, and it undoubtedly saves lives."

In the wake of yet another large-scale methamphetamine trafficking bust in Madras last week - conducted by combined federal agencies including the FBI, DEA, and the HIDTA-supported Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team - Sgt. Bailey noted that methamphetamine and heroin remain the most pressing concerns to deputies and narcotics detectives.

He said that synthetic drugs such as Fentanyl - an easily abused pain-killer - are presenting new and alarming challenges to deputies on the street, and in some cases outpacing the ability of deputies to identify the newest drugs with field-testing kits.

Sgt. Bailey said that while there are still occasional incidents of meth traffickers found to be cooking on their own, most methamphetamine in Central Oregon is of foreign origin.

A sheriff's office is far more than good busts and statistics. Sgt. Bailey told The Nugget that deputies conducted a very successful "Back to School" event for La Pine-area schoolchildren, and deputies are now looking forward to coordinating a similar event to be held in Sisters.

"It's an opportunity to welcome the kids back, let them crawl around the cars, to meet their deputies, and to have a little fun," Sgt. Bailey said.

Additional information on DCSO activities in the county can be found on their website, or on Facebook.

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