Accountability

As an integral part of the Washington County public safety system, we recognize our responsibility to the diverse communities we are privileged to serve. We consistently evaluate our policies and training, considering case law, best practices, and community experience and expectations.
 
This page provides insight into policies and practices that we have developed in response to our community and to remain accountable to you. It summarizes key policies, law enforcement standards, and recent changes resulting from local and national conversations on racial justice and public safety reform.
 
Check back regularly as we continue to add or update policies. If you would like to recommend a change or partner with us on issues related to accountability, please email us.

 

Staff Recruitment and Training

All our staff undergo intensive training so they can perform their work honorably and in a way that maintains public safety, prioritizes the Sheriff's Office's values, and builds trust and confidence among our community. We pride ourselves in our in-depth recruitment and training processes, ensuring our staff is capable and driven to serve.
  • Recruitment: All certified staff undergo extensive selection and testing before being offered conditional employment. We evaluate each applicant using interviews, psychological and physical tests, and test results from the National Testing Network's entrance exam and the Oregon Physical Abilities Test (ORPAT). Some of the essential skills we look for and are needed to serve the community in a law enforcement position appropriately include de-escalation, unconscious bias, community policing, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Training: Our deputies receive comprehensive training that prepares them to address real-life scenarios while protecting and serving the communities of Washington County. The 10-month training program encompasses a variety of training at our state-of-the-art Public Safety Training Center (PSTC), at the state police academy in Salem, and in the field with our experienced deputies. All segments of training focus on enhancing the essential skillsets identified during our extensive recruitment process.
  • Continuing Education: Training doesn't end after certification. Staff continuously train throughout their entire careers. Our deputies receive some of the best ongoing training in the country through mandatory in-service, annual re-certifications, promotion, and specialized team assignment instructions. We often formulate ongoing training to meet the changing needs of Washington County and maintain critical skills both for community and officer safety.

Community Policing

Community policing addresses public safety issues such as crime and fear of crime by building relationships with communities and solving problems in partnership with the people we serve. Three of the most important strategies we use in community policing are positive interactions, partnerships, and problem-solving:
  • Positive Interactions: We strive to make every encounter positive, from school carnival attendance to deputies offering a helpful push of a broken-down vehicle. These positive interactions build community trust and demonstrate that we are here to serve you. 
  • Partnerships: Developing partnerships is how we address community issues and concerns more effectively. One example: Our patrol team partners with Lifeworks NW to form our Mental Health Response Team (MHRT). A deputy and clinician ride together and respond to calls for service involving mental distress. This unique program provides a rapid response from a skilled deputy and immediate intervention from an experienced clinician. This team also provides follow-up visits after initial contact to ensure those they encounter are connected to additional support, decreasing the need for future law enforcement intervention.
  • Problem-Solving: Our team utilizes the SARA model to Scan, Analyze, Respond, then Assess. We identify public safety issues, then determine the underlying causes and effects. We develop plans to address the situation and prevent future crimes. One example: To decrease package thefts, our property crimes team developed a bait package program, where GPS-tracked packages are strategically set as bait in high-theft areas. When someone takes a package, deputies track the thief's location.  People who commit theft are held accountable, and the program is also highly publicized to deter future thefts.
Crime victims’ legal rights are guaranteed by the Oregon Constitution and Oregon Revised Statutes. Victims’ right to justice includes the right to: play a meaningful role in the criminal or juvenile justice process, be treated with dignity and respect, receive fair and impartial treatment, and receive reasonable protection from the offender. Find out more on victims’ rights.
 
Additionally, Sheriff Garrett serves on Washington County’s Equity Leadership Committee and his staff serve on all six of the County’s EDI workgroups.
  • Boards and Commissions
  • Civil Rights Compliance
  • Equity Data
  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Training Committee
  • Equity Policy
  • Employee and Supplier Diversity & Inclusion Best Practices

Policies and Documents

The Sheriff's Office maintains written policies that govern our operations and administration. These written directives serve as the basis to inform and train staff on their professional responsibilities, legal constraints, and work practices. Policies bring consistent and accurate results, promote strong community partnerships and excellent customer service, and guide staff actions to maintain our community's trust.

We have made a number of changes in response to community feedback and the national and local conversations about racial justice and law enforcement reform. Access information about our policies, including recent policy changes, at the links below.

Community Topics

Statistical Transparency of Policing (STOP): All Oregon Law Enforcement Agencies are required to submit data to the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) related to officer-initiated traffic and pedestrian stops. The CJC analyzes the data to see evidence of racial or ethnic disparities. This report breaks down the data by race/ethnicity and other demographic factors. It helps set thresholds for determining discrepancies within the individual law-enforcement agencies or the state. The CJC issued its latest report on December 1, 2021.

Crime-Related Statistics: Law enforcement agencies must maintain accountability to ensure their duties are upheld in just and equitable manners. Oregon law requires state and local agencies to report crime-related statistics each year for the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting System (ORS 181A.225). The FBI Uniform Crime Reports establish the standard and provide a wide range of crime-related statistics from across the country for research and trend identification. National, state, and agency-level Crime Data from across the country are available for public consumption. Currently, the link does not work in Internet Explorer, but the link does work in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge. We recognize the data categories allowed by the FBI for reporting a person's race are limited. We have been in contact with the FBI about expanding the range of options to more closely match the actual racial makeup of the community. Read our Lette to the US Office of Managment and Budget to the United States Office of Management and Budget requesting to expand the race categories.
 
Facial Recognition Technology: Sheriff's Office Ends Facial Recognition Program on June 10, 2020, in response to concerns from our community and our technology provider Amazon, the Sheriff's Office is ending its facial recognition program. The program was piloted in 2017 and has been used to assist investigators in identifying suspects in criminal cases. While our groundbreaking policy offered a responsible and ethical model for using the new technology across the country, it remains unregulated at a state and federal level. In addition, the Sheriff's Office recognizes that our communities of color have expressed concerns over possible bias by the technology, and we want to be sensitive to those feelings.
 
While we could solicit another facial recognition provider, we concluded discontinuing the program best matches community values. This program was an innovation in law enforcement technology worth exploring, but we  discontinued our program given our community's sentiments and our collective desire to prioritize equity.
 
Body Worn Camera Program: To enhance public trust, transparency, and accountability with the community we serve, the Sheriff's Office has begun its process of rolling out body-worn cameras (BWC) to our patrol staff. The goal is to have patrol deputies equipped with body-worn cameras by the end of 2022. Body-worn camera technology increases the transparency of the agency's work and improves public confidence. The system will document events and capture data that will be preserved in a digital storage facility.
 
The Washington County Board of Commissioners (BCC) facilitated community engagement on the BWC proposal and engaged in several meetings with WCSO. Holding community engagement sessions provided the opportunity for the public to express their viewpoints and further informed the BCC's decision-making process, ultimately supporting the funding of the BWC program.
Polis Solutions: To ensure all Washington County Sheriff’s Office policies, procedures, standards, training, evaluation, and accountability related to the use of force align with best practices, the Sheriff’s Office contracted with Polis Solutions. After conducting a national search, receiving proposals from five vendors, and conducting a thorough evaluation, Polis was awarded the $149,700 contract. Under the contract, Polis thoroughly reviewed all elements of WCSO operations and administration related to the use of force published in their December 2021 Report.

Accreditation and Standards

We are proud to be accredited by national and Oregon-based organizations known for establishing rigorous standards for law enforcement agencies.

  • The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA): awards accreditation to public safety organizations that comply with rigorous national standards for increasing transparency and public confidence. Since 2004, CALEA has recognized us for our commitment to upholding the highest policing standards. CALEA has also honored us with the Meritorious Award for more than 15 years of continuous compliance.
  • Oregon Jail Standards: The Oregon State Sheriff's Association (OSSA) establishes best practices for jails that address everything from staff training to kitchen operations. The 309 standards, known as the Oregon Jail Standards, are designed to raise the bar, improve management, reduce liability and create consistency in the operation of all county jails. The Washington County Jail has remained compliant with these comprehensive standards since 2000.
  • National Commission on Corrections Health Care (NCCHC): : NCCHC is a private, independent assessor of correctional health care. NCCHC provides two types of accreditation, one to the correctional facility to provide a measurable, standard-based system of care and the other to the individual medical professional to confirm adherence to industry best practices and standards. At the Washington County Jail, accreditation ensures more efficient operations, a reduced risk of adverse events related to care of adults in custody, improved health status for adults in custody and reduced health risks for the community upon release.
  • ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB): The Forensic Science Unit (FSU) is accredited to international standards, having met the ISO/IEC 17020:2012 requirements for forensic inspection with a scope in friction ridge and scene investigation. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) National Accreditation Board (ANAB) awards this accreditation based on annual assessment of an agency’s technical qualifications and competence for conducting inspection activities within the scope. Accreditation is vital to the FSU as it ensures forensic analysts and technicians are maintaining the highest professional standards while remaining unbiased in both their analyses and testimonies. Accreditation enables the FSU to rely on best practices for processing crime scenes and examining evidence while receiving ongoing training in order to maintain credibility in the county, scientific community, and the legal system. Additionally, the unit supervisor and one forensic analyst hold significant credentials as Certified Latent Print Examiners and Certified Crime Scene Analysts. One forensic technician is certified as a Crime Scene Investigator. *Surveillance Video Retrieval is not an accredited service.

Statements from Sheriff Garrett

Read Sheriff Pat Garrett's statements on pressing issues.

Advisory Committees and Councils

Have you considered joining a Community Group or an Advisory Board? There are great opportunities to share your insight and make a real difference in helping guide our public safety service.
 
Enhanced Sheriff's Patrol District (ESPD) Advisory Committee
The ESPD Advisory Committee works with Sheriff Garrett and other executives to review and recommend police services in the ESPD. The committee also advises the Sheriff on strategic goals and the direction for ESPD. Future considerations will review other long-range opportunities for enhanced law enforcement and community collaboration.

The ESPD provides enhanced patrol response to over 215,000 residents in the urban areas outside of cities in Washington County, including Bethany, Cedar Mill, Cedar Hills, Aloha, Reedville, Garden Home, Metzger, Rock Creek, Raleigh Hills, Bull Mountain, Bonny Slope, West Slope, Oak Hills, and more. Voters first approved the ESPD in 1987, and all local option levies since. Find out if you live in the ESPD.
 
If you have a question, email or call 503-846-2694.

Latino Advisory Commission (LAC)
Latinos make up the largest and longest-standing ethnic group in Washington County. They continue to be disproportionately overrepresented in policing enforcement, incarceration rates, and referrals to the juvenile justice system. The Advisory Commission was established in 2020 to address these issues and build trust between the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Latino community.
 
Establishing an ongoing partnership is an essential step in meeting the public safety needs of the entire community.
 
The Commission meets the first Wednesday of every month virtually from 4:00-5:30 pm. For more information, to provide public comment, or request the Zoom meeting link, please email or call 503-846-2762, or visit the Washington County's Community Boards and Commissions web page.
 

ESPD Community Surveys

The Washington County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) depends heavily on the community's feedback to adapt services provided within the District. To do this, WCSO conducts voter and community surveys. In the latter half of 2021, WCSO conducted two surveys to solicit feedback from residents and business owners of the District.

In June, WCSO issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to conduct a community survey of residents and business owners in the ESPD. The purpose of this survey was to gauge community perception of ESPD from an operational and satisfaction standpoint. Great Blue Research was awarded the contract and conducted their survey in September and October. Four hundred twenty-one self-identified ESPD residents completed the survey, which returned a +/- 4.8% margin of error.

Key Takeaways:

  • Very high ratings for ESPD Deputy's professionalism and competence.
  • Two-thirds of participants indicate they are very satisfied with their contact with WCSO.
  • The majority indicate their community is less safe than three years ago.
  • Concern for non-violent crimes and housing insecurity are noted most frequently.
  • Majority support an increase in ESPD funding.

Patinkin was awarded the second contract and conducted a voter survey to gauge community perception of the ESPD levy from a ballot measure standpoint. Patinkin ran its survey in November and December. Six hundred fifteen self-identified ESPD residents completed the survey, which returned a +/-3.9% margin of error.

Key Takeaways:

  • 58% vote yes when strongly, not strongly and undecided / lean are combined.
  • The yes vote grew from 58% to 70% after learning a little more about the levy.
  • "Movers" previously referred to as "Fence Sitters" in prior surveys represent 24%.
  • Voters responded positively to messaging around:
    • Connecting people experiencing homelessness with resources
    • Response to overdoses
    • Response to people in mental health crises and de-escalating them
    • 911 rapid response
    • Maintaining service level similar to nearby cities