Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley has returned to the Columbia County Board of Commissioners with an update on his request to fund additional deputies that could coast up to $1 million.
Pixley said the additional law enforcement is necessary to meet the increasing public demand for services.
Pixley originally began his discussions with the commissioners for the need of more deputies last fall. On Wednesday, June 9, during the commissioners work session, Pixley outlined his plan to hire lateral deputies, law enforcement members already trained.
In the following conversation, Pixley gives insight into his request.
The Chief: What is the Columbia County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) current staffing?
Pixley: CCSO currently has 12 enforcement positions. Those 12 positions include one Chief Deputy, one Lieutenant, one Marine Deputy funded through the Oregon State Marine Board, and 2.7 Deputies funded by the City of Clatskanie. That leaves 7.3 enforcement deputies to patrol the remainder of Columbia County.
The Chief: Does CCSO offer 24-7 coverage in its jurisdiction, if not, why not, and how many square miles does your agency cover?
Pixley: CCSO does not have enough deputies for 24/7 coverage. Columbia County, as a whole, is 657 square miles. 17.1 square miles are in city jurisdictions with a total of 40 officers in those different city jurisdictions. The remaining 639.9 miles and over 26,000 citizens are covered by CCSO’s 7.3 deputies.
The Chief: Why are the new deputies needed now?
Pixley: Additional deputies have always been needed, but I have made it my focus to advocate for more positions and to seek additional funding. More deputies are needed to cut down on deputy fatigue, to reduce response time for calls and to work towards 24/7 law enforcement coverage in the county. Last year, CCSO deputies handled 1,510 calls for service per deputy, which is almost double the call load for an officer in one of our city jurisdictions.
The Chief: Specifically, how many new deputies do you need and what would the deputies' duties be?
Pixley: In order to ensure 24/7 coverage, eight additional deputies are needed.
The Chief: What is your specific funding request for the new deputies and where would that funding likely come from?
Pixley: Eight additional deputies would cost between $710,984 and $1,005,256 per year, plus the one-time costs associated with fully outfitting the new deputies. Funding would come from the Columbia County general fund and by collaborating with community partners to provide additional funding.
The Chief: What is the timeline in hiring and providing the specialized needed training for a new deputy?
Pixley: The length of time to get a new deputy up and running varies greatly. Our rigorous hiring process can take up to tow ro three months. Once hired, lateral deputies who are currently certified go through a short training period lasting two to three months. Recruit deputies can take up to eight months before they are trained and working independently.
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