I want to take a moment and respond to the editorial comment in the March 28 edition of The Sandy Post. While I cannot comment on the pending litigation, I urge you to keep an open mind and not make a judgment without hearing the full story. The cases will be tried in court before a judge and jury and not in the media.
While the purpose and focus of the fire department is totally different from the police department, we are both emergency responders who are well trained and professional. Our departments have the utmost respect for one another and work well together, but that is where the comparison ends.
In 2006 the Sandy Police Department handled almost 10,000 calls for service through the dispatch center in Oregon City. This does not include the calls for service that are received by phone in our business office or the many people who come to the police department because of a problem, to report a crime or simply wanting information. Each officer handles approximately 1,000 calls per year, which does not take into account any follow-up investigation that may be needed.
While we may not consciously promote our activities in the community, all of our officers live in and are a part of the community we serve. They have participated with Sandy Grade School and Firwood Grade School in the 'Reading Across America' program, assisted in the Relay For Life fund-raiser and coached youth football and baseball. In addition, they have taken part in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Community Safety Fair and the Juvenile Diversion Panel, and have supervised juveniles assigned to community service projects.
We have 10 police reserve officers. In 2006 the reserve officers (volunteers) contributed more than 3,500 hours (the equivalent of 1- 3/4 full-time officers). They regularly make prisoner transports to Clackamas County Jail so the regular officers on duty can handle other calls for service. Their 'other activities' include helping the Kiwanis deliver Christmas baskets, picking up food boxes in Portland to give needy families, providing security and assistance for the Sandy Mountain Festival, fitting bike helmets for children and assisting with the 'Every 15 Minutes' program at Sandy High School.
Over the years we have lent our support to the Hunter Safety Course, helped build Fantasy Forest (I know, I was one of them), helped with the Soap Box Derby and have helped assemble and install new playground equipment at Sandy Grade School.
In addition to donating time, the Sandy Police Officers Association and the Sandy Police Reserves have made generous donations to charitable organizations and families in need in the community.
In the April 4 edition of The Sandy Post, I am quoted as saying that I agreed with the editor that we have an image problem. While I don't recall specifically saying that, the point I was trying to make is that there may be an image problem, or it could be a law firm is attempting to create that illusion to bolster the claim of their client.
Time will tell on the lawsuits, and you must judge for yourself whether we have an image problem or not. In the meantime we will continue to provide the best law enforcement service possible to everyone in our community. To those of you who have offered your support, we offer our sincere thanks.
Harold Skelton is Sandy's police chief.