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Bernie, please retire

We don't know if Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto is seriously considering retirement, but just in case he is, we'd like to offer encouragement.

The sheriff, who resides in Gresham, reportedly broached the idea of retirement during a recent meeting with county Chairman Ted Wheeler and District Attorney Michael Schrunk. The three men were discussing jail management and how to fix the immense problems within the Multnomah County corrections department when Giusto asked what he later claimed was a hypothetical question: Whether the views of Schrunk and Wheeler would be different if the sheriff were to retire.

The question was relevant because Wheeler is proposing a range of possibilities for improving oversight of county jails - including making the sheriff's position an appointed one. Giusto says he was just making a rhetorical point, but the fact that he even mentioned retirement is a positive indication that perhaps the sheriff is considering stepping down.

The idea of retirement ought to be enticing for Giusto. After 34 years in Oregon law enforcement, he could collect full PERS benefits. He also could avoid the embarrassment that would come if an ongoing state agency investigation leads to his decertification as a law-enforcement officer while he still is in office.

Likewise, taxpayers also ought to find the prospect of a Giusto retirement quite appealing. Not only is the sheriff facing the state investigation into whether he has lied, he also is under intense scrutiny for his poor management of county corrections. In only the latest of such reports, a Multnomah County corrections grand jury recently accused Giusto of being a hopelessly ineffective jail manager and called for the hiring of an independent professional to combat an organizational culture rife with waste, freeloading and a lack of internal discipline.

So it seems that Giusto's timely retirement now would be in his own best interest as well as in the interest of his employer - the taxpayers. All that's needed is for Giusto to say the word. The county can order his gold watch, and the state can start sending his checks.