|What made you decide to run for Deschutes County Sheriff?
I chose to run for Deschutes County Sheriff for many reasons, but the overwhelming factor is that the culture at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) is completely broken. The fact our Sheriff’s Office has not been led by a Sheriff from outside the agency for 20 years, despite numerous internal scandals, is beyond concerning in my opinion. Deschutes County’s elections were designed to promote a robust and competitive democratic process, and the Sheriff’s election in no exception.
Deschutes County has significantly changed over the last 20 years and we need a leader who will bring a fresh, energetic, and collaborative energy to the office of sheriff. The gross mismanagement at DCSO has resulted in the lowest employee morale in Sheriff’s Office history, with almost 70% of the staff stating there is a major morale problem. Endless federal lawsuits, ethics violation complaints, and employee grievances have been filed since Sheriff Nelson took office, which has resulted in over 110 employees departing the agency during the last five years.
The lack of accountability from our Sheriff is also troubling. Sheriff Nelson stated in 2019 that he does not have to follow the policies of the office, simply because he is the sheriff. Additionally, Sheriff Nelson supported two separate ballot measures during his tenure that would give him more power than our State’s legislature on certain Constitutional rights. We need a leader who does not believe he or she is above the law, their own policies, and especially our State and Federal Constitution!
If elected your next Deschutes County Sheriff, I will ensure the office finally moves into the 21st Century. We will utilize innovation and technology to get deputies back into your neighborhoods and serve in a proactive manner. As your sheriff, I will bring accountability and transparency to the office by creating an actual strategic plan, something the office has not had in over 16 years, and ensure this plan is a collaborative effort with our community. We will also bring a much needed comprehensive wellness program to the office. I truly believe by providing physical and mental wellbeing opportunities to our staff and their families, our deputies will be better able to serve with compassion and empathy.
As you know cannabis in Deschutes County has been pretty disputed quite a bit, especially in the unincorporated areas… What are your opinions on the legal cannabis industry?
The voters have spoken and we, as a people, decided to legalize the cannabis market. I believe it is important for the sheriff to respect and understand his or her role in local government. Sheriffs are executive branch representatives that are tasked with enforcing law, not creating or interpreting law. As your sheriff, I would treat the legal cannabis community the same as any other small business owners and employees. It is important the office of sheriff and the legal cannabis community have a strong working relationship to ensure that community safety and quality of life stay at the forefront of our efforts. Individuals who choose to illegally produce commercial size quantities will be dealt with accordingly. These individuals not only create a safety concern for our community, but also hurt small businesses that are following the rules and operating appropriately. As your sheriff, I will work closely with the cannabis community to create partnerships that do not currently exist.
What are your top goals for Deschutes County if elected as Deschutes County Sheriff?
My goals as the Deschutes County Sheriff will be to bring trust and accountability back to the office. This begins internally. As your sheriff, I will implement a four-year strategic plan that has input from our entire staff as well as community partners. This plan is published on our website for openness, and will allow the community to hold us to campaign promises. The position of undersheriff will also come back to DCSO to ensure proper succession planning. Within the first 100 days, our office will implement a comprehensive wellness program. This program will focus on the mental, emotional and physical well-being of the entire staff. I truly believe these programs, which agencies across the United States have implemented over the last decade, will help provide better service to the community and improve internal dynamics. The Bend Police Department has had their wellness program in place for approximately 5 years, and we have seen a significant reduction in force responses, officer injuries, personal sick time, and officer complaints. By properly dealing with the trauma of our profession, the well-being of our staff, their families, and the interactions we have with the community will all get better. Improving the morale of the staff will ultimately provide a more effective service to the community.
There are many other goals, such as building relationships with community partners that have been badly broken over the last five years, utilizing technology and innovation to bring DCSO into the 21st Century, and improving the overall communication flow both inside and outside of the Sheriff’s Office.
How can our readers support you?
First, our campaign remains competitive only because of the generous financial donations our incredible supporters have provided so far. The Sheriff’s election in 2016 was the most expensive sheriff’s race in Oregon history, so we will need to continue fundraising to make the change happen that is so desperately needed. Hitting the DONATE button on SchairforSheriff.com is the easiest way!
Beyond donating, we are truly a grassroots campaign, so sharing our campaign through social media, by word of mouth, and via letters to local media editors is much appreciated! We also have yard signs available, which can also be a helpful way to show your neighbors who you support in local elections, and potentially start a great conversation. Please follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and on our website schaierforsheriff.com.
Thank you so much for the support and encouragement! Please vote Scott Schaier for Sheriff!