News and Press Releases
Sheriff Announces Transition to Deputies Wearing Body Cameras PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 March 2015 18:25

 Click on photo Caption to view Photo

  Photo Caption: A Columbia County Jail deputy with Taser Axon body camera. The Columbia County Sheriff's Office is issuing body cameras to all full-time deputies employed in the jail and on patrol to "undergird accountability," protect against false accusations of misconduct and provide independent evidence in criminal and civil court cases obtained directly from the deputy's point of view."

In an effort to undergird accountability and protect against unfounded misconduct allegations, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office is moving to on-officer body cameras for deputies working both in the jail and on patrol. 

The transition in the jail has already begun, and in the coming weeks, it is expected that deputies on patrol will also have issued "body cams" designed to more fully document official contacts between deputies and the public (and between deputies and suspects or inmates). 

"The move to on-officer body cameras is critical to my commitment to transparency with the public," said Sheriff Jeff Dickerson. "Deputies are given tremendous responsibility under my authority, and I want them to have the confidence that there is an independent record of their activities that will protect them from false allegations of misconduct--and also hold them accountable to the high standards expected of them." 

Deputies are undergoing training and policy updating for the purpose of designing consistent use of the "body cams." It is expected that all official contacts will be recorded and kept in storage for the appropriate length of time, according to state public records laws. The cameras will also be used to document events to which deputies respond and provide evidence in criminal and civil court cases. 

The sheriff believes that on-officer cameras are a substantial improvement over dashboard and other mounted devices that do not adequately capture the officer's point of view. "These cameras stay with the deputy no matter where he or she is deployed," Dickerson said. "When it comes to documenting use of force cases, for example, these cameras afford a better chance of documenting more closely the conditions deputies face at the moment force is used, or the moment the decision to arrest is made. Our deputies make good decisions, I believe the use of these 'body cams' will document these decisions in decisive ways that will help underscore the good work they do." 

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 March 2015 18:37
Clatskanie Area Man in Custody After Burning Down His Residence PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 21 February 2015 10:33
Columbia County Sheriff's Deputies responded Friday, February 20 to the residence of a reportedly agitated and  intoxicated male subject who family members said was threatening to burn his house down. Darren Loftesness, 53, Clatskanie is charged with Attempted Assault of Public Safety Officers, DUII, Felony Attempt to Elude and resisting arrest, among other charges. Additional charges are pending the results of an ongoing investiga tion.

Just before 7 p.m., the sheriff's office and several area police agencies responded to a domestic disturbance that turned violent when the suspect reportedly used gasoline as an accelerant to burn down his own residence. Deputies and officers responding to the highly volatile situation at 23825 Blunk Dr., in the Clatskanie area found at least one building on fire and the suspect behaving erratically in the yard before leaving the scene in a car. The suspect drove down Blunk Dr., where he was hemmed in by responding law enforcement units. The suspect did not initially respond to law enforcement's request for him to leave the vehicle, but instead threatened to ram the police units with his pickup truck. Law enforcement officers used less lethal force to breach the vehicle and deployed a electronic stun device to end the incident and get the suspect in custody without serious injury to the suspect or authorities.

Fire personnel from three jurisdictions (Clatskanie Fire, Columbia River Fire, and Mist-Birkenfeld Fire) responded but could not address the burning building until the suspect was in custody. By the time they reached the residence, it was fully engulfed in flames.

"This was an intense, fluid law enforcement situation," said Sheriff Jeff Dickerson. "We were fortunate to have extra help with reserve deputies on duty and law enforcement from the Clatskanie and Rainier Police Departments, as well as troopers from the Oregon State Police. Everyone worked together very well to bring this matter to a safe conclusion."

Loftesness was placed in custody in the Columbia County Jail with bail set at $91,685.
Rainier Area Man Arrested on Assault/Attempted Rape Charges PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 16:26
Columbia County Sheriff's deputies today arrested a Rainier-area man on rape, assault and kidnapping charges, after the man assaulted a former girlfriend and forced her into her bedroom as part of the sexual assault. 

Douglas Schaffner, 21, Rainier was lodged in the Columbia County jail on charges of Attempted Rape First Degree, Sodomy First degree, Strangulation, Assault Fourth Degree, Burglary First Degree and Kidnapping First Degree.

Deputies responded to the 28000 block of Hirtzel Rd. just outside of Rainier around 11:53 a.m. today when the victim called 911 saying her former boyfriend had "burst into the door," grabbed her by the throat and tried to rape her.

Deputies arrived at the victim's residence at 12:19 p.m., and the suspect had already left the scene. Deputies then proceeded to the suspect's residence at 28695 Hirtzel Rd., and they found the suspect waiting for them.  Deputies arrested the suspect without incident around 1:30 p.m. 

The investigation is ongoing.  Rainier and Clatskanie Police Department also assisted in the investigation.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 09:27
Deputies Arrest Vernonia Man on Child Sex Abuse Charges PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 09 January 2015 11:12
Sheriff's deputies acting on the information from an alleged 13-year-old victim yesterday arrested a 62-year-old Vernonia man on felony child sex abuse charges. Deputies subsequently served a search warrant at the suspect's home, seizing electronic equipment related to this ongoing investigation. 

Gene Baska, 62, Vernonia, was taken into custody following a traffic stop and later charged with one count of Luring a Minor, and one Count of Attempt to Commit Sex Abuse, First Degree. Both crimes are felonies. Baska bailed out of jail Wednesday evening with a no-contact order for the victim and her family. 

The case came to light after a sexually explicit message transmitted digitally to the victim was alleged to have come from Baska. Deputies obtained a search warrant to search for "digital images, motion pictures, digital videos, photographs, digital audio recordings, text messages, call records," etc. and served the warrant at 16802, Keasey Road, Vernonia Wednesday evening. 

This case is an ongoing investigation. There is a chance that other victims are out there. Investigators request those having any information in regard to this case or this individual  to call our recorded Tip Line at(503) 366-4698 and leave any relevant information.
Last Updated on Friday, 09 January 2015 11:27
Missing Hunter Found Deceased PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 September 2014 20:36
A friend of the family helping in the search for missing hunter Jon Hill discovered the body of the Hillsboro man a little after 5 p.m. today. He was found more than a mile away from where deputies located his pickup truck on Sunday afternoon.

At 5:13 p.m. today, Columbia 9-1-1 dispatch received a 9-1-1 call from the family friend advising he had found the missing man and that he believed he was deceased. Deputies made their way to the location near Clear Creek Rd. The caller met deputies at the intersection of Timber and Clear Creek Roads, leading them to the missing man's body.

Columbia County Undersheriff Andy Moyer said officials delayed public notification until positive identification could be made and family members could be notified. "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Mr. Hill," Moyer said. "We are glad he was found, although we are saddened by the fact that he was not found alive."

Columbia County Searchers spent more than 50 hours in the rugged area off of US Highway 26 and Timber Rd searching for Mr. Hill. Also assisting in the Search were the following organizations:
-Metro West Ambulance (providing a standby medical presence at the command post)
-Mountain Wave Search and Rescue (Providing Communications support and additional searchers)
-Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue
-Clatsop County Sheriff's Office
-Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
-Yamhill County Sheriff's Office
-Washington County Sheriff's Office
-Tillamook County Sheriff's Office
-Oregon State Police
-Oregon Air National Guard

Moyer expressed gratitude to all those who helped with the effort, especially those friends and family members who came to do whatever they could do to help. Many also donated food and refreshments to keep the searchers in the field.
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