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Dickerson best choice for sheriff

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One of the most important things that employers do is hire the very best people possible.

Volumes have been written about the top predictors of employee success, but essentially they boil down to the following - intelligence, education, attitude, experience, skill, personality and passion.

The citizens of Columbia County are looking to hire a new sheriff on May 20 and are in the process of sorting out which of the three candidates best embodies all of these traits.

We believe that person is Jeff Dickerson.

Of the seven key predictors of success, passion is the one that perhaps most distinguishes Dickerson from the field. He demonstrated this passion years ago when he gave up the opportunity to work in a more lucrative career as an executive in private industry to go into law enforcement. He demonstrated this passion again in 2002 when he chose Columbia County as his duty station with the Oregon State Police. Most of all, he demonstrates that passion every day in the way he talks about his vision for the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

That's the other trait that separates Dickerson from the pack. He has a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish and is able to articulate that vision with clarity:

• Provide 24/7 police coverage

• Properly evaluate employees

• Provide comprehensive and ongoing training of deputies

These are simple steps but ones that nevertheless represent a sweeping cultural shift at the Sheriff's Office.

Providing round-the-clock police coverage in unincorporated areas of the county will require a paradigm shift for deputies who are used to going to work between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. and having the rest of the night off. Implementing such change will require flexibility, cooperation, buy-in and teamwork.

Similarly, conducting periodic employee evaluations may seem like an elementary change in operating procedure at the Sheriff's Office but, unfortunately, it is not, because under the current administration annual or semi-annual reviews are not done. That is not only poor management, but also a terrible disservice to the staff. Dickerson understands, as most astute managers do, that reviews are essential to the success of an organization because they establish what is expected of employees and ensure those standards are met, with all the requisite rewards, including commendations and merit raises.

The same is true of training - it is crucial to the development of the staff, and, in turn, the success of the Sheriff's Office. Unfortunately, this, too, has also been neglected by the current regime. By making training a priority in his campaign, Dickerson has shown that he gets the relationship between training and performance.

Beyond having the best grasp of the fundamentals of personnel management, Dickerson has other qualities that make him the best choice for sheriff. He was trained over the past 20 years by what is generally regarded as the best-trained and most professional police force in the state - the Oregon State Police. His tenure there includes several years as its liaison to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Dickerson is bright, listens well, speaks well and understands marketing communications and public relations - qualities that will go a long way toward enlisting public support. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a working knowledge of and respect for the public's right to know.

Dickerson possesses another quality that isn't taught in colleges or police academies. He knows who he is and what he stands for, as evidenced by his time in Christian youth ministry. He talks a lot about the concept of discretion and knowing what to do when there is a conflict between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, or when a split-second life or death decision must be made. In a word, he has the judgment it takes to be the county's top cop.

We believe that Jeff Dickerson has what it takes to transform the Columbia County Sheriff's Office to an excellent law enforcement agency, and we heartily recommend him for the job.