The Plan, Oct. 31

CCSO Op-Ed By Captain Sean Sanborn – As a person who spent just shy of a decade in the Military, you tend to pick up some funny tidbits here and there. As I think of this month’s article, Murphy’s Laws of Combat come to mind. While funny, there is wisdom in these rules such as “Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than you are” and “Friendly fire isn’t friendly”. But one particular rule sticks out in my mind as I have found it to be true over and again which is “no plan survives first contact”. Now, you may be asking yourself, what this has to do with law enforcement. The bottom line is that we often make plans which often fall apart as soon as we begin, or during implementation. We have seen this at the Coos County Sheriff’s Office. As we started out the new year, the Sheriff and administrative staff at the Coos County Sheriff’s Office had, and continue to have every intent to fully open the Coos County Jail. As I have discussed in previous articles, our hiring has matched our attrition rate. It really sometimes feels as if we take one step forward then one step back….still going nowhere. Many of you have expressed frustration with this. I understand your frustration and, in fact, share your frustrations in a lot of respects. I began my career in Coos County sixteen years ago and there are times when I look back and remember when adults were housed and regularly held for a period of time at the jail. It was the good ol’ days. However, it feels that those days are gone. In some respects, they are. Certain laws such as Senate Bill 48 now determine who is held and who is released from our jail. The control is not in the hands of the Sheriff, or anyone else at the Coos County Sheriff’s Office, but is now in the hands of staff with Oregon State Courts. That said, there is a plan, we wanted to implement this plan sooner, but sadly, it did not survive first contact. But being the tenacious boogers we are, we set about to alter and correct it so your Sheriff’s Office can provide the service we want to provide. There are several aspects of this plan I will discuss, budgeting, bed levels at the jail, limitations and what we want the end state to be. Since January 1, 2023, we have hired eight people at the Coos County Sheriff’s Office to various positions within the office. We have several more individuals who are in various stages of hiring. This process is arduous. Necessarily, while we certainly need to get people hired, due to the line of work we are in, there is a certain amount of pickiness as we go through this process. With the information Deputies have access to, we must ensure they are morally fit and meet the legal requirements for employment as set by the State of Oregon. We all have a past, but sometimes that past precludes folks from being able to participate in certain jobs. To put this into perspective, while we have hired eight this year, we have forty-three backgrounds which have either been processed, or are being processed. That said, Sheriff Fabrizio has set a goal for December. By December, our plan is to have hired all the individuals needed to open our jail to 98 beds. That said, there still may be some delays, we have to train these folks, but we have to hire them first. Once we have the jail open to 98 beds it will increase our capability to hold individuals in custody for the crimes they are alleged to have committed. Still, this is not a smoking gun for holding people in custody. While 98 beds sounds like it is a lot, it is the level the jail had been at for several years before we experienced COVID and the hiring problems we now face. This just brings us back to status quo. Currently, we are unable to add any more beds without an additional funding source. We are seeking grants to increase our capability at the Coos County Jail. Years ago, Coos County enjoyed a juvenile holding facility which equates to an additional pod. This facility was on the ground floor of the jail. We are actively looking for grants which will allow the Sheriff’s Office to turn that facility into a booking/ receiving area. Our current booking area would transition to a medical holding facility for folks who are needing to be watched for withdrawal symptoms or other medical issues which could be addressed in the jail. While this would not change our bed count, it would exponentially increase our capability. So, as of now, that is the plan following first contact. These are thoughts, ideas, goals which the Coos County Sheriff’s Office is working to implement moving forward. We have some near term and long-term goals as you can see. But these goals all have one thing in mind, to increase the safety and quality of life of our homes and communities. We at the Coos County Sheriff’s Office so appreciate the support we get from our community. We share your concerns and frustrations and are working towards solutions to solve them.

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