Reynolds urges members of the County Council to act on a solution to the staffing crisis at the Clark County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff candidate Rey Reynolds, a veteran of the Vancouver Police Department, has weighed in on the staffing crisis in the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
On Monday, Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins issued a statement informing area residents that, beginning March 31, Clark County patrol deputies will no longer respond to calls for several different types of service. Sheriff Atkins also urged members of the Clark County Council to take immediate action on suggested staffing solutions. This decision comes just two months after Atkins reported during a virtual town hall event on rising property crime held in January that CCSO data shows a 33-percent increase in lower-level crime and a 48-percent increase in auto thefts in the unincorporated areas of the county.
One Tuesday, the Clark County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild issued a statement providing additional details of the severity of the staffing crisis. Sgt. Brian Kessel, president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild, told Clark County Today there are currently 48 total vacancies in CCSO staffing: 14 of those vacancies are in the support branch; there are 20 vacancies in the jail staff; and 14 vacancies in enforcement.
Reynolds issued the following statement Thursday afternoon, urging members of the County Council to act on a solution to the crisis:
“This week, Clark County Sheriff Atkins announced that several types of calls for service will not receive a uniformed deputy’s response. This is in addition to the cutbacks already made as far as response in North County.
“This is unacceptable. The County Council has been warned about the potential consequences of inaction for months, and I empathize with Sheriff Atkins’ dilemma. I know he has pleaded with the council to reconsider the funding given and attempted to explain where our county would find itself if this crisis wasn’t addressed.
“As I’ve pointed out before, Washington State has the lowest ratio in the nation of police to population, and Clark County is the lowest in the state. The staffing shortage is affecting the ability of deputies to be call responsive in the community, as well as the ability for the jail to run efficiently. In addition, the lack of funding for training is affecting the quality of service. This can’t be allowed!
“Crime has already skyrocketed in the past year, and this will make matters worse. The dangers of the ‘defund the police’ rhetoric have come to fruition, and now we have to work to turn it back around.
“So what do we do? I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I know there is an obvious factor: we need funding! The County Council telling us there’s no funding available is not acceptable either. It’s been indicated that there is talk about spending money on ‘diversity and inclusion.’ Wouldn’t money be better spent on recruiting and retention? Studies show the best way to help communities of color is by providing more police, not less.
“There’s no doubt that Covid contributed to the staffing crisis we are experiencing. Wouldn’t it make sense for the Council to use some of the millions of dollars in the county’s Covid money towards replenishing some of the law and justice monies lost during the pandemic? There is adequate funding available, it just needs to be designated to the Sheriff’s Office.
“Clark County Council Chair Karen Bowerman spoke with news outlets after Sheriff Atkins put out his statement, and she said that solutions to the staffing shortage would be a part of collective bargaining with the Clark County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild. With what funds are they supposed to bargain?
“No, they don’t get to pass the buck and put it all on the backs of CCSO. They need to answer for this. Why isn’t public safety the top priority for the Council right now? I can’t answer that. But I can encourage you to join me in reaching out to the Councilors- Karen Bowerman, Gary Medvigy, Julie Olson, and Temple Lentz) and County Manager (Kathleen Otto) and request they take IMMEDIATE action.
“Our beautiful county is suffering; it’s time to dig deep and make Clark County safe again.’’
For more information, go to www.reyreynolds.com or Facebook, Instagram, Gettr, Twitter @VoteReyReynolds
More of this.
Start local county fundraising for the Clark County Sheriff’s department?
Take the needed funds from the Administrative side of the County ledger. We all know the pork that resides there. Thank You.
Damnit. I was a fan as he pushed our staffing issues and didn’t use it as a cause for attacking Sheriff Atkins.
But then he said the trivial cost of diversity and inclusion training was worth abandoning, and he lost my vote.
I’m not a ‘bleeding heart’ on this kind of training, but if ‘defund the police’ actually meant anything [to most of us], it was a request for more training, which I support.
Sir, I didn’t read anything in this column that attacked Sheriff Atkins, but, rather, just the opposite.
This really can’t be about the money! If is is, then someone needs to answer for the tax revenue received for the meteoric rise in property valuation. It certainly isn’t going for staffing or road repair.
There is confusion over the connection between property values and tax revenue. The county council establishes the budget and property values are used to determine the portion paid by each property owner. It’s called a millage rate. An increase in our property value does not give a windfall to the sheriff department. Our portion may go up if our value goes up and no one else’s does, but everyone else’s portion would go down. The total amount collected remains the same.
Voting for additional spending, however, does increase our taxes and more people should think carefully before they vote or fail to vote. I haven’t looked at my tax statement in awhile and I think there are some taxes based on property value, but they are small taxes, IIRC.
“Washington State has the lowest ratio in the nation of police to population, and Clark County is the lowest in the state.”
Clark County Council needs to put a higher priority on public safety when adopting a budget. ARPA Covid relief funds seem to be too directed at administration costs, and not enough on meeting the needs of residents. Did the Sheriff’s office get any ARPA funding? How much in ARPA funding did the county get, and where has it all gone?