Dear Editor (or whomever ends up reading this),
I posted the following on Facebook, because friends reached out to me for my opinion. Up until around this time last year, I was a Patrol Sergeant with the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office. I spent my last four years in this position, and around 12 years total working there. So I do have some knowledge of the innerworkings, particularly with the manpower struggles. Considering this was only reaching the ears of my limited Facebook friends, I thought maybe I should share it with you. Rather than re-writing the entire thing, below (in bold) is what I posted:
I would like to respond to Commissioner Skaar’s Tillamook Pioneer article. I’ve been asked for my opinion on it, so here we go.
In said article she states that it does not make fiscal sense to budget for positions which can’t be filled. First off, they can be filled, but there are difficulties. At peak it would not surprise me if TCSO had been short that many deputies at various points in that eight years, possibly more. As my wife pointed out to me this morning, the Michael Brown incident occurred at that point, and recruiting for police has become increasingly difficult since.
But the primary thing I would like to point out is I learned very quickly after promoting to sergeant, you can’t pre-hire or even recruit for positions that don’t exist. This is the crux of the issue. For example, there were several times we knew a deputy would be retiring or moving on. It would make sense to start looking for their replacement immediately, yeah? Well we couldn’t. That position had to be completely vacated prior to even posting an opening. So, if they remove the budgeted positions, TCSO can’t even recruit. Again, you can’t recruit for positions which do not exist. I would think Commission Skaar would know this.
Commissioner Skaar also points out that the Sheriff’s Office has been operating without these 11 positions (of which I assume the current in-process six are included). Like that’s okay. For argument’s sake I will pretend that “11” number has not fluctuated over those eight years and say, “Yes they have … At great cost.” Part of the issue with maintaining staffing levels has been the workload. These men and women at the sheriff’s office have been doing twice the work they should. It’s difficult to justify that to oneself, particularly with the abysmal pay they receive for it. Why would they stick around and make less money to do twice the work … Particularly when they could easily find another agency which pays more and asks less of them? So, they have lost people for that fact alone. That fact also makes it difficult to recruit new officers.
So I for one find Commissioner Skaar’s justification to be severely lacking. And for the record, there would be no guarantee if TCSO came to them and said, “Okay, there’s a spike in recruiting opportunities; we’d like our positions back, ” that the commissioners wouldn’t say, “Oh sorry. We spent that money.” Just because Commissioner Skaar says, “The remaining 6 vacancies would be available to be filled if candidates were to become available.” You can’t hire if the money isn’t there.