Budget Hearing Testimony

The County Sheriff provides several services to the public throughout Washington County, to include multi-agency teams, investigations, patrols of urban unincorporated and rural areas, the county jail, civil process, evidence processing, concealed handgun licensing, alarm permitting, and more. I am running to become your next sheriff because the management of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) needs immediate improvement. Current management problems are widespread. These problems have persisted long enough to result in outcomes that directly affect the quality of life and livability for the people in our county.

Violent crime in Washington County patrol areas has increased dramatically while the clearance of those same crimes has decreased.

Within WCSO, management problems include insufficient planning, execution, and financing of major programs and initiatives. Managers have failed to take responsibility for key decisions and results. In a staff survey, over 80% of staff told us they didn’t report problems because they didn’t think anything would be done about them. Poorly planned and implemented initiatives resulted in diminished effectiveness, increased risks to the public, and wasteful spending.

The failed management strategies are many. One includes implementing a costly camera, touchscreen, and security control program which is yet to work properly. The company bankrupted shortly after we contracted, and we are forced to work with insurers of the company to attempt to address ongoing problems. Another was purchase and implementation of a timekeeping system that is separate from the county wide system. This system has all but been abandoned by one division and is not used by a few smaller divisions of WCSO, again due to inadequate performance and a significant staffing time burden for use of the program. A complex and integrated money counting machine was purchased many years ago and still sits brand new in the jail without useful functionality.

Despite an outside analysis of staffing needs in the jail about 4 years ago indicating the need for at least 30 more employees for efficient service, we continue to add positions in lower priority areas first. During the continued staffing crisis, command staff implemented a 4 ten hour schedule to attempt to mitigate staffing morale issues. This only exacerbated the staffing shortages when the plan included 4 10 hour shifts to cover each 24 hour day, overlapping 16 hours per day of staff time. The staffing crisis is now reaching pandemic levels.

Contracts have been signed with spouses or family of executive and command staff, former employees, and other insiders. These contracts have fallen short of the robust solutions needed by the large agency WCSO has become. While these issues created service inefficiencies, crime rates and social problems increased and staffing reduced. The constellation of these problems resulted in significant cost to the taxpayers of Washington County.

WCSO has had to settle employee lawsuits and complaints recently for sexual harassment, racial harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation, workplace injury, age discrimination, and more. Top level employees have made racially derogatory statements about the public and employees and continue in their positions, while complaining employees are separated from the office for a variety of reasons.

I am asking voters to seek deeper explanations of the reports of service delivery you are receiving from your sheriff. Ask questions like, “How many of the 1 per 1,000 deputies in ESPD areas and ½ per 1,000 deputies in rural areas are actually assigned full time to patrols in these areas? How many hours are some of these deputies spending on administrative duties, training, teaching basic classes like first aid, and building Excel schedules rather than patrolling and clearing cases?”

Ask, “When force releases reached almost 2000 in 2018, why did you close the programs which allow inmates to serve sentences that don’t take up jail beds and close a housing unit due to short staffing? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have minor misdemeanors sentences served outside the jail so that more serious offenders stay in jail when they should?” Ask “Why do only a small percentage of our deputies have body worn cameras while you assigned take home cars to every enforcement sergeant, command and executive level employee?”

Regarding community priorities, ask “Why have you not publicly disclosed that you directly transfer inmates no longer in custody to ICE agents in a locked area where the public is not allowed, even when they have not finished a sentence and do not have an ICE hold?” Ask, “If the state’s Statistical Transparency of Policing (STOP) report indicates a statistical significance in citing and arresting Hispanics over Whites, why are you not examining your office’s decision to prioritize a crime you believe is disproportionately committed by immigrants while other legitimate public safety crimes are not prioritized in this manner?” Ask, “Why does your executive staff seem defensive over the need to closely examine the results of the STOP report instead of embracing the results and committing to a deep dive into the potential reasons for those results?”

Red Wortham commits to serving the public first, implementing efficient management, and using the resources paid for by taxpayers to first serve the taxpayers directly. Washington County citizens have shown to understand that emergency services, community services, and infrastructure are important investments that directly impact the livability and safety of our communities. However, when your elected officials have not had to be directly accountable to voters in a genuine democratic selection process, they lose focus on the most important component of their duty – responsibility and accountability to the public.

Vote Red Wortham for Washington County Sheriff on May 19, 2020 and count on Real Change, accountability, and transparency. I commit to genuinely including our communities while providing complete and accurate information on our service, effectiveness, and shortfalls.

Thank you for reading,
Red Wortham
Red Wortham Red Wortham for Sheriff
PO Box 1623
Hillsboro, Oregon 97123
(503) 987-0220
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