Wednesday, June 28, 2017 This Week's Paper

SHERIFF’S LOG: What is Most Important?

Consider for a moment what you ought to expect from your local law enforcement agency. What, for example, should you expect from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department? You should expect three things. Three important things. Safety, effectiveness, and efficiency.

The first is safety. We are in the business of public safety. Without safety and order, nothing functions properly. Neighborhoods and schools and roads which are dangerous do not function. Our local economy, jobs and businesses quickly break down if the community is not safe.

In the Sheriff’s Department, safety is a primary focus. This focus determines the way we deploy our personnel, the way we respond to calls, the way we investigate crimes and the way we run the jail.

I am called upon to make decisions about the safety of the community and the safety of my personnel every day. I was elected to do that. The safety of the community concerns me . . . every day. The safety of the men and women in the Sheriff’s Department concerns me . . . every day. I take the responsibility seriously.

Budgets over the last few years have left us with fewer personnel to conduct the business of public safety. At the same time, that business has become more dangerous and more complex. With these two facts before us, I want you to consider three questions. First, how much safety do you want? Next, how safe do you want your first responders to be? Finally, what are you willing to do about that?

To fulfill this essential role in delivering public safety services, we in law enforcement need to be effective in our work. And to continue to fulfill the role, we need to be efficient. Effectiveness and efficiency are both necessary to the role.

People in our business eagerly focus on the effectiveness of their work. Taking bad guys off the street, following threads of evidence, solving difficult cases, keeping people in jail who belong in jail: all of these things give us great satisfaction.

But it is also important that we work efficiently. The more efficiently we apply our resources, the more resources we can apply to being effective.

Based on how much we are allotted, we are really very efficient. We provide police services in unincorporated County for less than half the amount spent in local municipal jurisdictions.

You should expect us to do work which yields solid results, enhances safety and is done cost efficiently. You should expect us to be both effective and efficient.

Do these things really matter? They do. And, they will matter especially over the next two years. Why? Because we are currently seeing an uptick in property crime and violent crime locally. This is a trend that is being reflected nationwide according to FBI and Bureau of Justice statistics data.

So, it is important, here in Pierce County that we effectively deal with this increase in crime: that we get ahead of the curve and not allow this community and the fragile local economic recovery to be undermined by crime.

Our challenge in the Sheriff’s Department is to strike a solid balance: to work with the community to get necessary resources and then do all that we can with those resources to prevent and to suppress crime.

This brings me back to the three questions I posed earlier: How much public safety do you want? How safe do you want your first responders to be as they provide you with services? And what are you willing to do to see that those services are delivered as effectively and as efficiently as possible?

Talk with me about this. Contact me at with your answers to these questions. I would be happy to hear your ideas and your views.