by Matt Wingard
Last month I completed an eight week Citizen’s Academy course with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. The roughly two dozen of us who took the class (one night a week) were treated to a complete and comprehensive overview of one of Oregon’s largest police departments (annual budget = $53.2 million) where 107 deputies must protect and serve a population of 211,930.
Because Clackamas County is so large (1,700 square miles) and the terrain and population density so varied (from Mt. Hood to Wilsonville), the department had many interesting units/divisions for us to learn about: Marine (Patrolling the Willamette River), K-9, Search & Rescue, County Jail, CSI, Bomb Squat, S.W.A.T, and more.
We met most of the key personnel and learned about various aspects of the department including budget issues, domestic violence and child abuse cases, narcotics, how they run the county jail, crime rates, professional standards, peer support and counseling, and hiring and screening procedures.
We also got many hands-on demonstrations and tours including firing weapons on the firing range, driving the department’s new Dodge Chargers through an obstacle course, and riding with the Marine Division on the Willamette River.
Bruno the police dog
I spent one evening from 9 PM to 7 AM riding along with Deputy Don Boone and his K-9 Malinois “Bruno.” Near midnight, we rushed out to Sandy to help the local police find a suspect who had bolted after a routine traffic stop. After 20 minutes, Deputy Boone found the suspect hiding near a house. Bruno did not get to bite him, so I volunteered to put on the “bite suit” and let the dog attack me. He seemed to enjoy himself. Must have been a Democrat. Come to think of it, he was European.
It turns out Bruno took a wanted felon off the streets that night. Interestingly, the suspect was the same man who car-jacked Oregon State Senator Rick Metsger’s wife several years ago. The rest of the night was quite uneventful. We had Mexican food at 3 AM and I was fighting off the sandman by 5 AM.
It was clear to me that Sheriff Craig Roberts’ deputies are extremely professional individuals who love their work. Police officers are entrusted with a great deal of power over other people. Like anyone with power they must be vigilant about monitoring their department for abuse. My sense was that CCSO takes this responsibility seriously. They even put up with my sense of humor. And, no, I’m not any less obnoxious when I’m around people with loaded guns.
The residents of Clackamas County are well served by the men and women who guard their safety. As a crime reporter in Central Washington I worked with many fine individuals in the Yakima Police Department and with the State Patrol. It has been my experience that police officers are underappreciated for the stressful work they do.
Now it’s your turn
And even though they didn’t let me shoot anyone (I did ask), the Citizen’s Academy was an excellent experience. Many of your local police departments offer similar programs. I urge you to sign up.
POSTSCRIPT: Police & PERS
I have written in the past about the scandalous cost of Oregon’s public employee retirement system. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office budget is as much a victim as any other agency in Oregon.
CCSO PERS costs currently run between 19.78% and 24.90% of payroll (depending on the classification of the employee). As I’ve discussed before, the private sector spends less than 10% of payroll on retirement benefits.
From the budget figures CCSO kindly supplied, I estimate their PERS obligations in excess of 10% amounted to somewhere between $3.1 million and $3.6 million during the last 12 months. That is money not available to hire additional deputies, upgrade equipment, or increase training.
Sadly, this exercise can be repeated throughout Oregon’s cities, counties and state agencies.
Those extra PERS dollars = unrepaired roads, higher K-12 class sizes, higher college tuition costs, fewer police officers, and on and on and on…
The political climate for Taylor has been heated since he disagreed with Gov. Kulongoski by refusing to toe the “politically correct” political line.
Taylor said he still expects the governor to take away his title of state climatologist because of a slight disagreement on global warming issues. When Kulongoski developed the Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions recently, he didn’t even ask for Taylor’s input.
Taylor discussed the history of climate cycles and how, for example, Oregon’s climate was actually much warmer in the 1930s than they are today. Also in the early 1800s there were 2 years where we had no summers in the US. Taylor said World War II enhanced a temperature increase and discussed how cities’ temperatures tend to be higher than rural areas due to human development. Taylor noted that where measurements are taken can affect the temperatures and the data we use to determine climate changes.
Taylor said the greenhouse effect is invisible and essential to life on Earth. He said 90% of it is water vapor and then the rest of it is
methane and carbon dioxide.
Taylor noted that the tropical pacific patterns, the El Nino and La Nina events, and the impact they have on global temperatures overall. He said humans have some impact, but not nearly as much as sunspot activity or natural disturbances like volcanic activity over time.
Taylor went on to say that those who espouse the global warming line often point to the snowpack levels. He said a Washington climatologist was fired over
climate issues that were not politically correct regarding snowpack levels and left sided concerns. Taylor said there are cyclical periods of La Nina and El Nino which effect snowpack levels.
He said the debate over sea level changes is an ongoing debate over whether the current changes are steady and reliable trends. He also mentioned how it is estimated that at the current rate, the global sea level may rise 8 to 17 inches per 100 years.
Moreover, heating the ocean takes a considerable amount of time. He said in the 1940s there was also an increase in arctic temperatures. And in the 1970s the big concern in the media was the possibility of another ice age or global cooling.
Taylor goes on to say scientists believe that in 2020 the global climate could return to a cooler period as sunspot activity is expected to change.
Taylor addressed the issue of whether the glaciers, sharing how they are shrinking due to human impact. He said there was much melting of the glaciers before 1950 and the SUV theory was a bit off. Taylor said surface temperatures may not be the best measure of climate change anyway, particularly on where the measurements are taken.
It was noted that the Montreal Protocol banned the use of human-made compounds that were suspected of damaging the ozone layer; however, no apparent change has occurred since that Protocol was created, so it begs the question of whether humans really impact the ozone layer as scientists predicted.
Taylor is a published author of several books regarding Oregon’s climate history.
Suzanne Penegor is a Local Activist serving to educate the community by building bridges to civic understanding.