News and Press Releases
Jail Boarding Fee Revenue Reductions Mean Severe Cuts to Columbia County Sheriff PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 28 May 2009 19:50

The loss of more than $1 million in anticipated revenue from Jail Bed Boarding fees has put the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in crisis mode.

A decision by the U.S. Marshal in Portland to divert a large portion of the current bed usage in Columbia County to Multnomah County means that Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson must deal with a $1.2 million dollar shortfall in expected revenue.

“The combination of a 17 percent cut in general fund spending from last year and the anticipated reduction in federal prisoners’ boarding fees spells disaster for our Enforcement Division,” Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said.

The combined cuts and reduction in revenue will mean the Sheriff will lose 14 positions  – four in the jail and ten on the road and on the river. Three additional part-time positions will be eliminated.  Also included in the reductions is the elimination of the Columbia County Marine Patrol program, a school resource officer position, and a contract position with the state fish and wildlife department to provide law enforcement services on Sauvie Island.

“We will place a greater burden on our corrections deputies,” Dickerson said, “to cover for the loss of the technicians who currently run our control room in the jail. But the skeleton crew we will have left to patrol our county will not be able to handle the call load.

“We will be forced to prioritize our responses.  Only the most serious of crimes will generally be investigated. Our ability to respond to emergencies as they happen has been fatally compromised.”

The budget nightmare began for the Sheriff’s Office this spring when the Sheriff was given a budget significantly lower than that which was approved last year.  The county’s general fund had 5 percent less this year from last year, but the Sheriff’s Office share of the budget cutting was set at over 17 percent. 

The sheriff pinned the agency’s hope to avoid layoffs on a forecast of $1.8 million  in federal jail boarding fees after the agency secured a 20% increase in those fees. The Sheriff said the jail will bring in approximately $1.5 million from boarding fees in the current fiscal year. 

Next year’s boarding fees were looked to as a salve for the Sheriff’s funding wounds, but a perfect storm was brewing on the horizon that now has left CCSO in deep trouble.  The combination of a reduction in federal arrests, the breaking of a log jam in getting federal detainees to other facilities around the country, and the inking of a deal between the U.S. Marshals Service and Multnomah County to increase the boarding numbers for federal detainees has brought Columbia County to the precipice.

“We housed about 60 federal detainees per day in the last year, Dickerson said. “I have been assured by a representative of the Marshals that those numbers are going to fall dramatically.”

A total of 14 Columbia County Sheriff’s Office employees received notice today of the pending layoffs, which are set to take effect August 1. Sheriff Dickerson said the layoffs are one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.

“I believe citizens expect their sheriff to provide the public safety services I have had to cut today,” he said. “State law requires that I staff the jail, attend to the directions of the courts, process civil papers and provide search and rescue capabilities in the county. With all the cuts from the county and the federal government, the only real place I could cut was in the very services many constituents expect me to deliver first.

“I will continue to look to the future and a possible funding source to provide dedicated funding to the sheriff’s office.  In these economic times, that solution still seems out there a ways.  For now, these are very dark days for our county."

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2009 19:53
Sheriff's Office Budget Will Result in Fewer Walk-in Hours PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 May 2009 17:04
Due to budget cuts looming ahead for the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson has announced a reduction of service hours at the walk-in window beginning in June.

"In an effort to help address a 17.67 percent reduction in general fund revenue that is dedicated our budget, we will close the front office four hours per week on Fridays, beginning Friday, June 5," Sheriff Dickerson said. Countywide, general fund revenue is down about 5 percent, but the Sheriff's Office share of that reduction is more than three times that amount.

"We represent the biggest expenditure of general fund dollars," Dickerson acknowledged, "If the budget has huge gaps in it, we are the place they are going to cut."

Additional staffing in the front office and a needed civil deputy position have been cut from the sheriff's original budget request this spring, making the current crush of civil papers and criminal reports that much harder to tackle, the sheriff said. With the addition of employee furloughs looming as a partial solution to county funding woes, the strain on the sheriff's front office make the move to reduced hours at the front window a necessary choice.

"So much doesn't get done in the hours we have now," Dickerson said. "In order to manage the increase in reports and civil papers as well as the potential loss of employee hours, we believe we must reduce the service at the window."

The Sheriff's new business hours (which will be posted online) will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays.  Jail Visitation hours in the afternoons on Friday will be handled through the Jail directly, as they are during holidays and the weekend.

"Reduction of hours of service is not where I want to go," Dickerson said. "It's where we're being lead, with little option.  This may only be the beginning of some difficult choices in the future, but no matter what, we will continue to strive to deliver the best service possible."
Last Updated on Monday, 18 May 2009 17:09
Monday, 18 May 2009 11:57

On May 16 and 17,  the Columbia County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team held its annual re-certification overnighter at Camp Wilkerson.  Thirty team members received their state certification by showing knowledge and proficiency in land navigation/GPS, tracking, search techniques, wilderness first aid, shelter and fire building, as well as helicopter safety.

Members had to carry a 130 lb role player in a stoke through an obstacle course and their fires had to be built without the use of matches or lighters.  Shelters were built with only items that the members carried in their backpacks and had to be constructed so that it was visible to searchers and could keep the 4 person team dry and warm. There was also a mock incident command post in place with an incident action plan for guidance.  Team members had to complete 30 hours of additional training and had to take a state exam before  receiving their certificates.

The Columbia County Search and Rescue is a 501C3 non-profit group consisting of volunteer  residents from Columbia County.  All members must by at least 18 years old and be able to pass a background check prior to the start of the training. The team is dispatched through the Sheriff’s Office and is under the guidance of Undersheriff Andy Moyer. Team members will be receiving additional training throughout the calendar year and will begin the re-certification process next January.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Columbia County Search and Rescue you can come by the Sheriff’s Office and pick up an application or contact Ron Hermo or Terri Etter at 503-366-4611.

Search and Rescue Team

Last Updated on Monday, 18 May 2009 12:10
CCSO Deputy Involved in Shooting PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 April 2009 20:16

A Columbia County Sheriff's deputy responding to an unwanted subject at a residence in the Clatskanie area Monday was involved in a shooting with an armed suspect.

The deputy was not hit by gunfire.  The suspect was transported to a Portland hospital with injuries sustained in the fight. He was later transferred to the Columbia County Jail on several charges..

The name of the Deputy involved in yesterday's officer-involved shooting incident is Deputy David Fuller -- a 25-year veteran.

Deputy Fuller had responded to family dispute between a mother, Susan Souvenir of Clatskanie, and her son, Eric Toftemark, 35,  at the family residence at 73125 Alder Grove Rd.

When the Deputy arrived, Toftemark produced a shotgun.  A struggle over the shotgun ensued as Ms. Souvenir fled the home and accessed the  police radio in the deputy's car to call for help.

During the struggle, the shotgun discharged and the suspect was injured.  Deputy Fuller was able to take Mr. Toftemark into custody without further incident.

As part of standard procedure, Deputy Fuller is currently on paid administrative leave pending a review of the incident.

CCSO takes Carjacking Suspect Into Custody PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 April 2009 20:15

ST. HELENS – Columbia County Sheriff's deputies have a suspect in custody today after a  harrowing carjacking incident Sunday night that injured one victim and netted the recovery of  the stolen vehicle shortly after it was taken from a St. Helens area man.

In custody in the Columbia County Jail is Shannon L. Winter, 35, on one count of Assault Third Degree, One count each  of Kidnapping Second Degree and Recklessly Endangering Another, along with additional single counts of Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Robbery Second Degree and Criminal Mischief Second Degree.

On April 12th, 2009 at about 6:50 p.m., deputies received a call of a stolen vehicle in progress on Vandolah Lane near St. Helens.  As deputies were responding, it was reported that the vehicle had crashed a short distance from where it had been taken.  Two  suspects (one male and one female) were reported to be at large in the densely wooded area just north of where the stolen vehicle had crashed.    A request for additional units was made and a perimeter was set using officers from the cities of Scappoose, Columbia City and Rainier and the Oregon State Police.  Canine units responded from St. Helens and Clatskanie police departments.

Approximately one-half hour after beginning a canine track of the suspects, Winter was located near a power line  access road and was taken into custody without further incident.

The incident began when Winter reportedly contacted the victims in their vehicle as the victims were preparing to tow a separate disabled vehicle with their 1997 Dodge pickup. The victims offered to give the suspect and a female subject a ride.  Winter and the female were in the pickup truck when the pickup's owner, Dave Brenden, 46, St. Helens, got out to hook up the disabled vehicle. A second victim, Daniel McMillen of St. Helens also got out and into the bed of the pickup.

With both victims out of the truck, the suspect got into the driver's seat and drove off with McMillen still in the back, and Brenden was dragged approximately 20 feet by his own vehicle.  Brenden reported no injuries.  McMillen received some injuries but refused medical attention. McMillen was in the bed of the pickup when the vehicle subsequently crashed but was not thrown from the vehicle. The suspect and female associate fled on foot.  The female has not been located or identified.

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