On Sept. 14, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson went public on Fox 12 News stating that effective Oct. 1 there will only be one deputy to patrol the entire County.

One deputy to respond to all 9-1-1 calls received daily.

This deputy will, at his or her discretion, choose what calls to respond to. They may not even respond at all.

Sheriff Dickerson was quoted, 'If you have a firearm, get trained in the proper use of that firearm, and be willing to use it if you need to protect your family.'

Sheriff Dickerson, you made a very powerful statement in telling the residents of Columbia County that they may need to be willing to use deadly force, but you failed to tell them that if they don't follow the letter of the law they will be the ones going to jail.

I cringe knowing we are going back to the days of calling 9-1-1 and being told by C-Com, 'Sorry, no one is on duty or available to respond, you can call back tomorrow or we will take a message and a deputy will call you back when he or she can.'

I expected more from you, Sheriff Dickerson, that's why I voted for you. I feel you are all about excuses and nothing about solutions. Are you punishing the residents of this county for not passing the tax levy so you could spend the money as you saw fit?

Where is the Sheriff's Posse and your Reserve Program?

Why don't you hold the county commissioners responsible for this?

The same goes for our commissioners: Why are you not holding Sheriff Dickerson accountable for his budget that seemed to be adequate prior to the levy?

When you focus on nothing but the problems, that is all you will get in return: more problems.

In Columbia County, Oregon, with a population of 49,351 people, we have three county commissioners that are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the current state of this county. They are Tony Hyde, Earl Fisher and Henry Heimuller.

I believe it is time we start holding these three people responsible and accountable for our failing Sheriff's Office.

If they cannot come up with a solution to this problem, then why are we allowing them to represent the citizens of this county? They are supposed to represent the best interest of the people.

If the county commissioners and the sheriff cannot come up with a resolution to keep our Sheriff's Office functioning to a satisfactory level of operations, then at a minimum I feel that by Oct. 1 the commissioners should have a county ordinance in place that allows the citizens of this county the right to use deadly force in the defense and protection of personal property.

The right to use deadly force to protect land, tangible or moveable property.

The right to use deadly force to prevent the imminent commission or arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime or criminal mischief during the nighttime.

The right to use deadly force to prevent the criminal that is fleeing immediately after committing the crimes listed above, or when it is reasonably believed the property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means.

Right now in this county there is no other means of recovering or protecting property because the CCSO is non-existent and does not have the staff to investigate property crimes to recover stolen property.

I know this firsthand.

Now let's include the right to use deadly force in protection of a third person's property with these guidelines. The third person has requested the protection, and/or the third person is a family member. These are the same laws that are and have been in effect in Texas for quite some time.

Now is the time to change the use of deadly force laws in Columbia County.

The billboards have just been put up by Sheriff Dickerson welcoming every criminal in the Pacific Northwest to Columbia County.

Change the laws allowing us to defend our property and you can bet that the criminals and thieves will conduct their business somewhere else.

If this county does not have a properly functioning Sheriff's Office and the current use-of-force laws stay in effect, then in my opinion the 'Lone Ranger' deputy on patrol will be spending most of his or her time arresting citizens that will take the law into their own hands by misguided advice from Sheriff Dickerson.

The average citizen will then be the 'more violent' criminals the Sheriff's Office will have time to arrest, and the bed space in our jail will be used to house them.

The people of this county have all the power in their hands, not the commissioners and not Sheriff Dickerson. They are elected by the people and for the people. As the city of Vernonia knows firsthand, if we don't like what our commissioners and our sheriff are doing for this county, we can replace them.

We have the power to make them properly fund the CCSO or change the use of force laws.

Properly fund the CCSO or provide new ordinances that allow the citizens to legally protect themselves and their property with the use of force, including deadly force. Do so without criminal prosecution for the use of deadly force under our current laws. Then we will see how long the criminals and thieves work in Columbia County.

If the Commissioners don't want to do either of these things and ignore the problem, then maybe a recall is in order.

- Michael Botchie, Rainier

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