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May-27-2009 16:50printcomments

Sheriff Goes Back to the Beginning in Basic Police School

The agency that trains police in Oregon can grant a waiver if the applicant "has current knowledge and skills…" , but veteran cop Bob Skipper was sent back to square one.

Sheriff Sheriff at the range
Sheriff Sheriff at the range
Photo: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Multnomah Sheriff Bob Skipper is preparing to go back to the four-month Basic Police Recruit Academy, beginning June 22nd 2009.

Lt. Mary Lindstrand, Public Information Officer with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, says that in preparation, Sheriff Skipper has been increasing his physical fitness routines, going through firearms qualifications and cutting down on fast food.

"He is also preparing the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and the citizens of Multnomah County for his absence from office for the 16 weeks."

Lindstrand says the Sheriff wrote a letter to the residents of Multnomah County and is working to wrap up budget and delegating duties prior to leaving.

May 20, 2009

Dear Residents of Multnomah County;

Last year, I was appointed and then elected as the Multnomah County Sheriff to fulfill the remainder of Sheriff Giusto’s term. I ran because I believe in the Office of Sheriff and in the value of the work performed by the members of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. As many people were, I was tired of the negative stories and attacks in the paper and wanted to do whatever I possibly could to restore credibility to the Office.

An elected Sheriff in Oregon is required to hold a basic police certification. The Board and Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (BPSST and DPSST) determined that the only way they will certify me as a police officer is for me to attend the full 16 week Basic Police Academy. I will begin class June 22, 2009.

Constituents, employees, public safety leaders and other elected officials have advocated that I not attend the academy as I was elected to focus on the credibility of the Office and deal with the significant issues facing Multnomah County. Attending the Basic Police Academy will require that I am away for four months, unable to provide direction, advocacy or leadership at a critical time for this agency. Because of these concerns, the need to restore credibility and my commitment to provide firm, stable leadership, I asked DPSST for a waiver. I also offered the option of completing alternative course work, including attendance at the Police Career Officer Development training. While DPSST has denied these requests, there is hope they will reconsider.

I appreciate the support and concern that people have shown for me in their advocacy efforts. It is difficult to comprehend that I must attend the Basic Police Academy given I completed it before, held an advanced certificate, served as a sworn police officer from 1960 to 1994, was the elected Sheriff from 1989 to 1994 and have attended over 40 hours of training since returning to Office. I agree that spending 15% of my elected term away is a burden to the local taxpayer. The cost of the academy is over $15,000. Slots for new recruits are limited due to budget cuts. I am taking a training spot from a newly hired recruit. The expense to the taxpayer, plus the salary expense of officers who cannot be put to work due to a lack of training is hard to stomach.

While I am disappointed that DPSST did not accept reasonable, relevant alternatives to obtain a current certification, I wholeheartedly support the requirements of the Office of Sheriff. It is my duty to carry them out to the fullest extent required by law.

I again thank you for electing me as your Sheriff. I look forward to carrying on my elected duties upon my return. In the interim, I have full faith and confidence in my staff to carry on the business of the Sheriff’s Office. The Undersheriff and my Executive Team will make sure the Sheriff’s Office continues on this path of course correction and that the public is served. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact my office at 503-988-4400 or bob.skipper@mcso.us.

Respectfully,

BOB SKIPPER

Multnomah County Sheriff

A requirement of being an elected Sheriff is to hold a basic police certification. When Sheriff Skipper came out of retirement to aid the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, he had been away from the Office and police work for 13 years. Sheriff Skipper did possess Basic through Executive Certificates when he retired. Unlike a high school or college diploma, these certifications expire.

While the job of Multnomah County Sheriff does make him responsible for Enforcement, River Patrol, Civil and the Corrections functions, it doesn't require the Sheriff to drive a patrol car, write tickets or supervise a dorm of inmates. The job is much more administrative in nature.

Although Oregon Administrative Rule 259-008-0025 allows the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to grant a waiver upon finding that the applicant "has current knowledge and skills…" , they have determined that the sole means for the Sheriff to become certified is to attend the full Basic Police Recruit Academy.

The Sheriff, while concerned about being away from office, is up to the challenge, has his boots shined and continues to be willing to do what needs to be done to rebuild the credibility of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.




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