Featured Stories

Letters to the Editor

Fuller’s claims are false and misleading

I want to respond to a letter by sheriff candidate Dave Fuller in last week’s Spotlight, which I believe is a discredit to the Sheriff’s Office and the hard work deputies put into their jobs on a daily basis.

Police agencies have had to cut costs because of diminishing budgets. Our situation in Columbia County is not unique. Several agencies in Oregon have cut patrol to the point of near non-existence. Since Sheriff Jeff Dickerson has taken office, approximately 40 percent of his budget was taken from the general fund. Layoffs were unavoidable. He can only do so much with limited resources. It’s a complete fabrication to say Sheriff Dickerson has cut resources to punish citizens for the failed levy.

The Sheriff’s Office responds to all priority calls, even when a deputy is not on duty. When that happens, a deputy is called out from home to respond. Sheriff Dickerson has implemented a call triage program to ensure that citizens get deputy contact as soon as one is available. Each deputy works hard to follow up with crime victims.

The sheriff also recently began cross-training deputies in corrections and patrol to improve our ability to solve problems.

Fuller wrote, “Why don’t we leverage state and federal resources?” Just how do we do that when many counties are experiencing the same budget crisis as ours? Are you going to tell the State Marine Board they need to fund marine patrol 100 percent? Are you going to tell the feds that they need to pay more to the Sheriff’s Office for housing federal inmates? We already have more money than ever coming in from outside resources, and if we try to leverage more, those resources will disappear.

Fuller wrote that the sheriff had done away with the Posse. Not true. Many Posse members left the Sheriff’s Office on their own four years ago, and others joined Search and Rescue and VIPS (Volunteers In Partnership with the Sheriff). I know this: We have just as many volunteers as ever at the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Dickerson has actually expanded the Reserve Deputy program to help supplement patrol. Reserve deputies receive extensive training in law enforcement. Former Posse members did not receive this training.

I find it very strange that Fuller has even mentioned the Reserve program, since he has filed grievances against the program, saying they were taking the place of certified deputies.

The Sheriff’s Office currently has a detective assigned to the narcotics team who is funded by grant dollars. Two corrections deputies were funded by grant dollars until the grant expired recently. The Marine Board continues to pay most of the cost of our marine deputies. The sheriff has also received funding from an outside source to keep one patrol position off the chopping block. In this budget year alone, Sheriff Dickerson has raised over $3 million in outside revenue (through grants and outside agreements).

It is true that Fuller was being investigated on criminal charges. He fails to mention that when Sheriff Dickerson received the allegations, he referred the investigation to the Oregon State Police. OSP issued Fuller a citation for failing to report an accident. This could result in him having his driver’s license suspended.

As far as a smear campaign against Fuller, that’s total nonsense. Sheriff Dickerson is obligated to look into any allegations made against any of his employees. Sheriff Dickerson did just that by referring the investigation to OSP. What was Sheriff Dickerson supposed to do, sweep it under the carpet?

Fuller could have avoided allegations by simply reporting the accident immediately instead of putting himself in this position.

Troy Caldwell, Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy

Likes military service, dislikes Dickerson

Leadership is defined in many different ways and has many different interpretations. The current Columbia County Sheriff’s Office administration defines leadership in a manner that makes it hard to understand.

The leadership displayed by Sheriff Jeff Dickerson’s administration can be best defined as leadership by intimidation or dictatorship.

This is disturbing in some ways, and to think Dickerson’s own children are serving in the United States Armed Forces defending the world against dictators and are willing to put their lives on the line to give foreign countries the right of freedom.

Yet, in Columbia County, we have a person in charge of a Sheriff’s Office that leads his staff in the same manner as the dictators of those foreign countries.

I, for one, am proud to say thank you to his children and all of the men and women who currently serve and who have served in the past. These people have made a choice to fight for the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy and take for granted. It has become apparent that Sheriff Dickerson appreciates the freedoms that have been bestowed upon him by the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States and has chosen to take his freedoms and run with them as a dictator of his own organization and place himself above others in the law enforcement community.

As stated by Sheriff Dickerson, he is the chief executive of law enforcement in Columbia County. Just to emphasize how this man operates, at the first staff meeting Dickerson held in his new position as the elected sheriff of Columbia County, he was asked what the troops should call him and his remarks were something to the effect of, “Sheriff. The public elected me sheriff and that is what you will address me as.” This shows just how much of a power trip this man is on.

Debbie L. Underwood, St. Helens

Not feeling secure in rural areas

Columbia County citizens deserve to feel safe in their own communities, especially in the rural areas of Columbia County where it is expected that the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office will provide law enforcement services to them because they pay taxes that support the Sheriff’s Office. The Dickerson administration has cut the services to the public as far as patrol goes, citing the fact that they have less money and personnel to provide the servies to the public.

Yet the staff that he currently has drives around in new vehicles and spends the majority of its time in the Sheriff’s Office in St. Helens.

The Sheriff’s Office responds to less calls because of fewer staff and, as stated in one of Dickerson’s many press releases, we have no detectives to follow up on calls. But yet he has one deputy assigned as a detective and he has sent him to school to be a detective.

The sheriff promised that he and his undersheriff would be taking calls right alongside his patrol deputies and that has not and does not happen. What happened to the promises made during the last campaign by Dickerson and Undersheriff Andy Moyer?

These promises were just statements made by a person who had no understanding of how to operate a Sheriff’s Office or a Jail. After more than three and a half years in office he has shown that he has no more of an understanding of what it takes to operate a Sheriff’s Office now than he did in 2008.

Sheriff Dickerson has managed to keep the U.S. Marshall’s Office contract in place when it comes to renting beds to bring in money to support his personal agenda at the expense of making the jail an unsafe place to house inmates as well as work.

The Columbia County Jail does not have enough staff to properly provide the necessary safety and security needed to keep the more than 130 inmates safe. I want a person who will work with his staff, try to mend burned bridges with other agencies, is honest and has integrity. I will be voting for Dave Fuller for a new beginning and future for the office of sheriff and the residents of Columbia County.

Josh Tolman, St. Helens