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In their words: Candidates for sheriff | Brent Johnson
The Journal invited the five candidates for sheriff to tell you, in 400 words or less, what you need to know about what they will do as our top cop. Here are their guest columns.
Brent Johnson: ‘The budget will affect how we train, enforce’
My family and I chose to move to the San Juan Islands and live here because of this unique and caring community.
I witness how members of our community pull together on a daily basis in the multiple organizations that I volunteer in. I know we have some of the finest deputies in the state and they truly care about the people they serve.
Over the last 35 years, I have had many work and educational experiences as a police officer. I will draw from this experience as your sheriff and build upon the foundation that is in place. Although the foundation is strong, there is always need for improvement within the department to move forward. Areas that I will focus on are training and evaluations of deputies, drug and alcohol education and enforcement, community policing, and budget issues.
I would like to move away from the shotgun approach to training and use my command staff and a senior deputy to implement a proper training schedule. This group would evaluate what training is needed and which personnel would be best to participate in the training. This group could also review and analyze the cost of bringing a trainer of a broad topic to the islands to teach multiple personnel. Evaluations done on a timely basis would assist this group in determining the necessary training for the deputies and dispatchers.
To many in our community, drug and alcohol issues are a major concern and they are right. The Sheriff’s Office and the community can attack this menace by using a three-prong approach consisting of rigorous law enforcement strategies; intensive programs of education in our schools, homes and businesses; and working with our medical professionals for treatment of addictions.
I have been involved in community policing for many years and know that it works best on a small scale, neighborhood by neighborhood, and not with large committees. My approach would have the sergeants and deputies working with neighborhood associations and businesses personally to tackle problems.
The current budget crisis will be a challenge for the next Sheriff as the budget will affect how we train, how we buy equipment, enforce laws, and possibly how many deputies we retain. I will involve my command staff in a complete review and development of the budget and the pursuit of appropriate grants to enhance services.