January 2016 Update from Sheriff Falls
January 29, 2016
Hello, Jackson County citizens.
I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do this job. In an effort to keep the public informed about our work at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, I will be sending updates at the end of every month. Weekly there will be updates of what is going on in either Corrections (Adult Jail and Court Security), Patrol or Support Services.
The number one question I am asked as the Sheriff is whether I support the 2nd Amendment. My stance has been consistent: I support the 2nd Amendment and I support Jackson County citizens who choose to legally own guns. I have no desire for that right to be taken away.
When I began at the Sheriff’s Office, I assessed our organizational needs and decided we needed a change in the command structure. I believe this restructuring has provided better oversight and quality control for the organization.
I divided the organization into three bureaus: Corrections, Operations, and Support Services. The Corrections Bureau is the largest. It includes our jail and court security. Our Operations Bureau oversees the Patrol Division – the deputies and community service officers who patrol the county, including the community of White City and the city of Shady Cove. The Operations Bureau also includes our SWAT and K9 programs. Our Support Services Bureau includes our Criminal Investigations Division, Civil Division, criminal records, marine patrol, and search and rescue.
I also established a Professional Standards position. The sergeant in that position reports directly to me and helps to coordinate policies and procedures, training, and community projects. The Professional Standards sergeant also supervises non-sworn administrative staff, including budget and personnel.
CLOSING THE BASEMENT OF THE JAIL
Closing the jail’s basement level was a difficult decision. The problem was that keeping the basement level open was creating a situation where our jail employees were being chronically overworked and undertrained. I felt this was a recipe for disaster.
Shortly after closing the basement level, I generated meetings with community justice and mental health officials to look into alternate uses for the basement. The Oregon Health Authority has taken a look at the facility and will be giving recommendations of other ways we could use the basement to benefit our county. Possibilities could include offering comprehensive programs for inmates. This is a work in progress and I will keep you updated on future changes.
The real discussion we need to have as a community is the benefit of building a larger jail. With proper design and technology, I believe we could house twice as many inmates with current staffing levels. This is especially important as we look to the future; our county is growing and changing and we need to be prepared.
Staffing issues are a constant problem in law enforcement. It takes a significant amount of time to recruit, hire, and train a new deputy. The recruitment process includes: interviews, physical fitness test, background investigation, medical evaluation, psychological review, 16-week basic police academy, and a three month field training program. That means it can take 9 to 15 months until a new deputy is working independently in the community.
We are constantly working on creative ways to make things better. We have also made some significant changes to our hiring and promotional practices in order to hire and promote people who best represent our community as a whole.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND A LOOK AHEAD
One accomplishment I am especially pleased about is our increased training on working with underrepresented populations. Last year, some of our deputies completed training on working with the LGBTQ community, as well as training on implicit bias. We also completed a Latino Project to assess how well our agency provides services to the Latino and Hispanic communities.
We are currently working with the Police Foundation on an organizational audit. They will assist us in developing a strategic plan. We have implemented a school safety deputy program to have deputies monitor our schools. We will begin an ethics and leadership program to help deputies succeed in the law enforcement profession. We will continue to send deputies to Crisis Intervention Training to learn how to work with mentally ill people in crisis. We will also be implementing body worn cameras this year.
Through our monthly updates, we will talk more about crime and problems in our community. We will talk about our policing strategies and ways citizens can help us to solve crime and other problems in Jackson County.
Sheriff Corey Falls