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Accountability

A summary of key policies, law enforcement standards, and recent changes resulting from local and national conversations on racial justice and law enforcement reform. 
Two happy deputies

As an integral part of the Washington County public safety system and as a law enforcement agency, we recognize our responsibility to the diverse communities throughout Washington County that 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 law enforcement 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 of 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 undergoes an extensive selection and testing process 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 appropriately serve the community in a law enforcement position 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. Many times we formulate ongoing training to meet the changing needs of Washington County and to maintain critical skills both for community and officer safety.  

Community policing

An image of a deputy having a conversation with a member of the community

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 one way we work to 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 follows 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.  

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. 

 Read our statements on current topics of community interest: 

Officer initiated stop data: 

Traffic enforcement is integral to community safety and traffic issues consistently top the list of community concerns. 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 if there is evidence of racial or ethnic disparities. 

This report breaks down the data by race/ethnicity and other demographic factors and helps to set thresholds for determining discrepancies within the individual law-enforcement agencies or the state as a whole.  The STOP data report is available to view at Oregon.gov

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 is available for public consumption. For ease and transparency, to view Washington County Sheriff's Office data compiled by the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, please click here. 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 quite limited, and we have been in contact with the FBI about the possibility of expanding the range of options to more closely match the actual racial makeup of the community. Read our Letter to the United States Office of Management and Budget requesting to expand the race categories. 

Sheriff's Office Ends Facial Recognition Program 

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. 

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 be used to document events and capture data that will be preserved in a digital storage facility.  

The Washington County Board of Commissioners (BOC) facilitated community engagement on the BWC proposal as well as engaged in several meetings with WCSO. Holding community engagement sessions provided the opportunity for the public to express their viewpoints and further informed the BOC's decision-making process, ultimately supporting the funding of the BWC program. 

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.

Media Release November 17, 2020
Media Release January 21, 2021

Accreditation and Standards

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

  • Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA): The 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. You can also follow Sheriff Garrett on Twitter

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. Click here to find out more.