A long-time plan to have one full-time law enforcement officer to cover the city of Clatskanie is becoming a reality.
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Deputy Gery Fiebich has worked with the CCSO since 2015. Beginning Monday, July 13, Fiebich will be stationed in Clatskanie.
Clatskanie Mayor Bob Brajcich said the hire was a long time coming.
“Since I’ve gotten to my office, I’ve been wanting to add to the police department for more coverage,” Brajcich said.
Fiebich will be in town from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. That timing will allow for full-time law enforcement coverage in town while school is in session, Brajcich said, which is one of the driving reasons behind having a full-time officer in town.
While Fiebich will not be assigned as a specific school resource officer, he will be available for schools in town, something that Brajcich said has been lacking.
“That really bothered me that with our time coverage we were paying for, that that wasn’t covered,” Brajcich said. “It’s just an increase in coverage.”
Due to city budget limitations, the Clatskanie City Council closed its city police department and contracted in 2016 with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services. The contract includes two deputies with the city paying 85 percent of the cost while the CCSO picks up the remaining 15 percent.
Since that time community members and Brajcich have voiced concerns for the need to strengthen local law enforcement. Repeated school security issues earlier this year heightened those concerns for additional policing. Read more about the school security issues in a series of stories at thechiefnews.com.
Fiebich’s salary will be funded 100 percent by the City of Clatskanie. The Clatskanie City Council approved its new city operating budget in June, which included $470,500 for law enforcement services for 2020-21 through the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the new deputy’s annual salary.
Brajcich said Fiebich’s duties will be wide-ranging throughout the city.
“He’ll assist the emergency departments,” Brajcich said. “We want him to work with us in compliance and have a relationship with the school principals and business operators, so that he’s aware of anything going on around town.”
Clatskanie City Manager Greg Hinkelman told The Chief in late May that the full-time deputy is a key to effective law enforcement in the city.
“The deputy will get to know and be a presence at the grade school and high school and also get to know and be a public face to the businesses in town and the community in general,” Hinkelman said. “This deputy will also serve as our code enforcement officer.”
Brajcich said he is excited about having a full-time law enforcement officer in town and the perception and the communication the deputy will bring among town residents.
Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley noted the same potential.
“This position will give the residents and city of Clatskanie a dedicated law enforcement presence for 40-plus hours each week,” Pixley said. “I believe the most important thing this position brings with it though is the ability to strengthen the relationship between CCSO and the residents of Clatskanie. This is not a rotational position, so the residents will be able to get to know Deputy Fiebich. I believe this will allow us to form stronger ties in the city.”
Fiebich was on vacation and not reachable for this updated story. In a published interview in The Chief in late May, Fiebich said, “I am looking forward to the opportunity ahead of me.”
The Chief will be closely following Fiebich’s arrival in Clatskanie with updates about how he is doing and the community reaction in future updates. Read those stories at thechiefnews.com and in the Friday print editions of The Chief.