News and Press Releases
Drug Canines Conduct Routine Jail Search PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 20 June 2011 15:29
A newly commissioned narcotics detection canine from the Clatskanie Police Department and two additional canines participated in a jail-wide shakedown of personal effects of inmates in the Columbia County Jail on Monday, June 20.

Inmates at the jail were summoned from their cells and dorms as canine handlers went through all their personal items with the help of these drug-sniffing dogs.  No controlled substances were located, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said, but the exercise was still a beneficial one.

“We were pleased that we didn’t find any controlled substances in their effects,” the Sheriff said, “And we are looking forward to a continued  partnership between us and the drug-detection canine program with the Clatskanie Police Department.  My thanks goes out to Chief Marvin Hoover and Officer Ken Short  in Clatskanie for their willingness to help us keep drugs out of our facility.”

The use of drug dogs to sniff out controlled substances is becoming more and more prevalent and a solid resource in the effort to deter the smuggling of drugs into the jail, the Sheriff said. The Sheriff's Office conducted the search unannounced, and noted the impact among the inmates.

"They all knew what we were doing and why," the Sheriff said. "We will continue to take these kinds of measures to discourage illegal activity among our inmates."
Man Falls from Moving Vehicle, Dies -- Driver Arrested PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 June 2011 09:14

A man who fell out of a moving pickup on Dike Rd. southeast of Scappoose died June 11. The incident occurred at approximately 6:12 p.m. The driver of the pickup has been arrested on charges of Criminally Negligent Homicide and Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants.

First responders arriving at the scene found Alex Montoya, 38, Longview lying in the road unconscious. Attempts to revive Montoya were unsuccessful.

Nicholas Kay, 26, Vancouver was driving southbound in a white Ford pickup near the address of 50960 Dike Rd. when Montoya, a passenger in the bed of the pickup fell out and hit the paved roadway surface.

Scappoose Rural Fired District paramedics responded to the scene but were unable to revive the man.
Deputies were assisted in the investigation with the help of the Scappoose Police Department and the Oregon State Police.

Deputies Arrest former Police Officer on New Burglary Charge PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 21:13
Joseph Harrison, the former Clatskanie Police Officer, is in custody tonight in the Columbia County Jail on a new burglary charge.  Columbia County Sheriff's deputies arrested Harrison at his residence following an investigation into a burglary that occurred at 80183 Kalunki Rd. outside of Clatskanie in February.

Harrison, 36, Clatskanie was working for the Clatskanie Police Department in August 2009 when he was arrested for Burglary and Official Misconduct charges stemming from break-ins to local residences at that time.  He was later convicted on two counts of Burglary First Degree and one count of Official Misconduct First Degree.  Harrison is currently on probation for those convictions, and it is unclear at this time if prosecutors will seek to enforce the terms of the probation,  charge the new crimes, or both.

While the burglary occurred in February and Harrison had been identified as the suspect in March, the former police officer had left the state to receive rehabilitative services under the terms of his probation.

"We have been looking at this investigation since March, waiting for the suspect to return to the area following his stay in rehab," said Sheriff Jeff Dickerson. "We knew a number of people in the Clatskanie area were aware of the positive identification of Mr. Harrison as our suspect, and decided to make an arrest as soon as practicable, to avoid any flight risk, if possible."

Harrison was observed by a neighbor of the residence on Kalunki Rd. back in February, and reported the break-in to the Clatskanie Police Department on March 7. Clatskanie Police referred the victim and witness to the Sheriff's Office.  The witness picked out the suspect from a photo lineup, and other evidence also pointed to the former officer.

Deputies took Harrison into custody without further incident at 8:10 p.m. Tuesday night.  He is being held in the Columbia County Jail on $60,000 bail.
Reckless Driver Attempts to Elude/Crashes in front yard of Columbia County Residence PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 April 2011 11:38
A 30-year-old St. Helens man was arrested last night after a short police pursuit that ended with the suspect crashing his car in the front yard of a Warren-area residence.

A Columbia County Sheriff's deputy located Aaron Randels fleeing the scene where he had crashed his car about 3-1/2 hours after the suspect had attempted to elude apprehension for reckless driving and other related offenses.

The chase began on Highway 30 in Columbia County just after 8 p.m. Thursday night when a deputy attempted to stop a 2004 Volvo 4-door sedan for a speeding violation. The suspect saw the deputy activate his overhead emergency lights and decided to elude apprehension.  The suspect turned up Tarbell Rd. in Warren and continued at high speed to attempt to elude.

At the intersection of Slavens Way and Garden View Court, the suspect lost control of his vehicle and crashed in the front yard of the residence at 55883 Garden View Court.  Before the deputy arrived at the scene, the suspect fled on foot.

Oregon State Police, Scappoose Police and a canine unit from the St. Helens Police Department arrived to assist.  Approximately 3-1/2 hours later, the suspect was located by a deputy running along Berg Rd.  Randels was taken into custody without further incident.

Randels was booked and released from the Columbia County Jail with charges of Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, Hit and Run and Attempt to Elude.
Deputies Arrest Man on 29 Counts of Sex Crimes Involving Children PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 March 2011 17:29
A  62-year-old Vernonia-area man is in custody tonight in the Columbia County Jail, charged with 29 counts of sexual crimes involving children. Columbia County Sheriff's Deputies took the man into custody without incident today while serving a search warrant and arrest warrant at his residence.

Deputies and federal agents have been conducting a 10-month-long investigation that began last June after the Sheriff's Office was alerted to reported sexual misconduct involving the suspect, Richard Scott Courtney and three children under the ages of 12.  Interviews with the children with the help of the Amani Center in St. Helens and additional investigation with the help of federal authorities led to today's search warrant and arrest.  The investigation into the crimes remains ongoing and more charges are expected.

"This case is the result of collaboration between our office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who assisted with the computer forensics investigation," said Sheriff Jeff Dickerson. "The length of the investigation is due to the nature of these kinds of investigations, particularly when much of the evidence is contained in digital computer files.  We took efforts to ensure that the victims were removed from the suspect's home back in June, and we didn't begin to get a fuller picture of the extent of the abuse until computer forensic investigation revealed it."

The victims are 2 members of the suspect's extended family and a neighbor child who had been playing with the children. Much of the evidence was found stored on a computer voluntarily surrendered by the suspect to Sheriff's deputies in June.  A search warrant was served on that computer in October, and submitted to ICE child exploitation specialists for review.  There is some indication that federal crimes have also been committed in this case.

Mr. Courtney was lodged in the Columbia County Jail on 26 counts of Sex Abuse First Degree and three counts of Using a Child in Display of Sexually Explicit Conduct.  Bail has been set at $1,555,000.
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