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Garrett takes helm as Washington County sheriff

Board of Commissioners names undersheriff to complete Rob Gordon's term
by: Jaime Valdez The Honorable Kirsten Thompson swears in Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett during a ceremony Wednesday afternoon in Hillsboro.

Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon officially retired from his role on Wednesday and passed the badge on to Undersheriff Pat Garrett, who will complete the remainder of Gordon's term.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners appointed Garrett at its meeting last week to fulfill Gordon's term, which expires at the end of 2012.

Presiding Washington County Circuit Judge Kirsten Thompson administered the oath of office to Garrett at 2:30 p.m. at the Washington County Sheriff's Office headquarters in Hillsboro.

'It's a brand-new challenge in a really important area,' Garrett said just before his swearing in. 'We've really got a great team. Today's not about me. It's really about the office, change, opportunity and teamwork.'

Citing personal and family reasons, including changes in the Public Employees Retirement System benefits, Gordon, 55, announced in October he would retire. Elected to his first full term in 2004, his retirement concludes 33 years of service with the sheriff's office.

The outgoing sheriff strongly recommended to the Board of Commissioners that Garrett be appointed to complete the final year of his term as sheriff.

'Pat's gonna be a great sheriff,' Gordon said in November. 'He's a very smart man, experienced, well credentialed and well thought of internally here. He's fully committed to take this agency forward.

'I think I'll leave the office in very good hands with Pat.'

The next election for sheriff will be in November 2012.

A Hillsboro resident, Garrett has been with the Washington County Sheriff's Office since 1988, when he was hired as a recruit deputy sheriff in the patrol division. He has held every patrol rank including undersheriff, the second in command of the sheriff's office. In 2004, he was assigned as an interim jail commander.

Garrett, 47, said he's admired Gordon for years as a mentor and innovative leader.

'I could not be more grateful to him for mentoring me over the years,' Garrett said Wednesday afternoon. 'He's really been supportive of me.'

Gordon distinguished himself early on, Garret added, by leading the agency to national accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies during his first term.

'He has a long history of partnering with leaders to increase system efficiencies,' Garrett said. 'He keeps policies updated and enforces high recruitment standards, which you need to do. My goal is to build on that professionalism and continue our interagency partnerships.'

'We're going to continue to fight the main drivers of crime, (including) drug trafficking and gang violence,' Garrett added. '(Gordon) believed in treating everybody, who we come in contact with, with dignity and respect. And we need to continue that.'

Garrett earned a bachelor's degree from Oregon State University and a master's degree from Portland State University. A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, he has been activated twice since 2003 and spent more than a year in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Garrett and his wife, Coleen, have been married for 23 years. They have two teenage boys.