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The fall months are  here; Halloween is coming up; and our communities are in the midst of political advertising and election results that could have profound results for our nation, state and our own county, as well.  This issue of the newsletter focuses on the next jail tour/open house that is open to the public; on the recent homicide investigation that took up a lot of our resources; on the outstanding work and training put in by our Search and Rescue Volunteer Team; and, on the new and improved ways we have developed for Dog Licensing in Columbia County.

Add to that the updates on a number of issues that are important to us, and employee successes that make me proud to be your sheriff and the leader of such outstanding public safety professionals, and this newsletter is chock full of good news and inspiring achievements.

I want to thank you for the interest you have in our mission and for taking the time to read through these vignettes, and perhaps follow a link here or there to all the information we seek to provide designed to make Columbia County a safe place to live, work and enjoy!

I wish you and your loved ones a great and safe fall season!

Sheriff Jeff Dickerson
Jail Tour / Open House Repeated

We had a tremendously successful Open House and Tour of our facilities in September, so we have decided to open it up again for Sunday, October 23, 2016 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

This is the community's opportunity to see what goes in to the public safety mission of the sheriff's office: from our marine patrols, regular enforcement patrols, criminal investigations, search and rescue, dog control, civil process and corrections.

The tour of the jail has been the highlight for many folks who are seeing just what it takes to have this secure facility in operation and what it means for the safety of our citizens.  
Please join us-- 901 Port Avenue, St. Helens.    

Light refreshments will be provided.
Answers for Apache Hightower's Family
When the body of a young Portland woman was discarded off of a rural Columbia County roadway in September, a frantic effort was made to find out who did it.  Thanks to the work of the Columbia County Major Crimes team, our outstanding Enforcement Division members, and the with the help of many partners locally and in Portland, Salem, Medford and California, we were able to piece together what happened and how.  The result is the indictment of Apache Hightower's ex-boyfriend (from Medford) and two St. Helens suspects in her murder.                                                                                                                                                    Apache Hightower

          Lane                      Vernon                         Toney

Search and Rescue Volunteers Part of Our Mission
to Conserve the Peace! 
In August, our volunteer Search and Rescue Team received training from the Lifeflight helicopter crew and held a dinner with the crew to ask questions in regard to the use of Lifeflight in Search and Rescue Operations.  In September the team assisted the Major Crimes Team's investigation of the Apache Hightower murder.  Searchers helped look for evidence at one of the crime scenes.

We rely on our volunteer search and rescue team to provide the resources we need to search for missing people and/or articles important to Sheriff's Office investigations.  We are so thankful for the volunteers who regularly train and study to provide the best possible SAR services to our County.

 Dog Licensing is Becoming Much Simpler
In this digital age, it should be relatively easy to apply for a dog license.  For years, this has required either mailing the license and fee in to the county, or coming in
person to the County.  Either way, you had to first go to your veterinarian to obtain proof of rabies vaccination, and then mail it in, or bring it with you.....
Halloween Safety Tips for 2016

Halloween can be a great time of fun for adults and kids.  Adults need to remember to party responsibly, always have a designated driver, and be aware of the hazards of over-intoxication:
  • Know your server
  • Know your limits
  • Know who you're celebrating with
  • Know a designated driver who is not impaired and plan ahead to ride with him/her.
And for Kids and families, we have the following safety tips found on our Facebook page:

Jail Levy on Ballot November 8
The Jail's continued operation will be at stake in the coming election.  The current levy, which provides roughly 50 percent of the jail's operating expenses, expires this coming summer. Measure 5-257 is on the ballot November 8 and would continue jail funding at the current rate, with no tax increase and would maintain current funding until summer, 2021.

News and Notes Roundup!
  • CENT Team makes drug bust in Clatskanie   READ MORE 
  • The Sheriff's Office made it the Vernonia Salmon Festival Again This year   READ MORE 
  • The City of Clatskanie Police Department will cease operations Effective October 31, 2015 at midnight.  Beginning November 1, The Sheriff's Office will be providing law enforcement services inside the city and, through agreement with the City Council, on a limited basis to the surrounding areas.  READ MORE
  • Did you know that in addition to the new work we will be doing in Clatskanie , that your Sheriff's Office has already been serving the Cities of Clatskanie, Vernonia and Columbia City with augmentation agreements that provide a law enforcment response when no city officers are on duty?  Deputies respond and take enforcement action when necessary, and, when longer investigations are required, the cases are turned over to local police officers when they return to duty.
  • Life Saving Awards:  On Wednesday, the Sheriff will be giving life-saving awards to three Corrections Division deputies who intervened in circumstances where inmates were threatened with death.  
In May of this year, deputies to responded to one of the pods in the jail where  there was an inmate choking. Several other inmates were standing around but no one was assisting the choking inmate. 
Lt. Brooke McDowall took charge and immediately began the Heimlich Maneuver. After several attempts, he was able to dislodge enough of the food to enable the inmate to start breathing again.
Lt. McDowall escorted the inmate to our medical department, where medical staff discovered that the inmate's throat was still partially obstructed, and he was transported to the hospital. The object, a piece of a hotdog, ultimately had to be surgically removed.
Our onsite medical staff and the hospital staff said the inmate would probably have not survived had Lt. McDowall not performed the Heimlich Maneuver.

  On 10/04/16 a female USM inmate attempted to commit suicide by hanging herself.  Sergeant Jon Kinsel and Deputy Tim Trask entered the female jail pod and ordered control to unlock the cell door. Deputy Trask opened the cell door allowing the sheet to slip between the the door and door frame. Sergeant Kinsel caught the inmate and lowered her to the floor, holding her up in a sitting position. Deputy Trask began working on getting the noose loose enough to slip off of the inmate's head. We believe the inmate was only hanging for approximately 15 seconds.

The inmate was evaluated my medical and then by a mental health professional. The mental health professional said that he believed her suicide attempt was genuine and had a high probability of being successful had she not been discovered when she was.

Safety and Security for the staff and our inmates is JOB ONE.  The sheriff acknowledges the difficult job our deputies face in maintaining that safety for all congratulates these employees for a job well done!

Community Resources

Provides services for victims and survivors of family violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and for persons facing other crises.

Founded in 1966, Community Action Team is committed to:
  • Reducing the extent and negative effects of poverty
  • Increase family self-reliance
  • Improving community facilities and affordable housing stock
Non-profit organization whose mission is to provide services to individuals and families in need of:
  • mental health care
  • addiction treatment
  • psychiatric rehabilitation
  • developmental disabilities services 
  Columbia County Warming Center Facebook Page
 When the weather turns cold and you have nowhere to go to sleep at night

Resources from the Sheriff's Office to help defeat fraudulent schemes

It is our great pleasure to serve the citizens of Columbia County with premium law enforcement, corrections, civil and emergency response services.  Our vision is to
serve the citizens of our county with:
  • effective and efficient public safety services;
  • a safe, secure and efficient incarceration facility that contributes to a better quality of life; and,
  • reliable court and civil process services.
   Each employee is enabled to solve problems by taking ownership and believing he or she can form partnerships with our citizens and fellow public safety providers to make our community an ideal place to live, work and recreate. 

 For the current Agency-Wide Strategic Plan, You can go  Here!

For the sake of livable communities,

Columbia County Sheriff's Office
901 Port Ave.
St. Helens, OR 97051
Phone: (503) 366-4611
Fax: (503) 366-4644
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