With Sheriff Dan Bardsley retiring at the end of this year, it's time for a change of command in the Wahkiakum County Sheriff's office. Two men filed as candidates for the position during the filing week in June--current Undersheriff Jon Dearmore and Rosburg resident Troy Norris, and last weekend, signs appeared for a write-in candidate, former Deputy Sheriff Josh Grasseth. The Eagle will publish profiles of candidates in the next few weeks. We start with Jon Dearmore.
Dearmore has over 20 years experience in law enforcement. He started in the Chelan and Long Beach police departments and has spent the last 16 in Wahkiakum County Sheriff's Department. He has served as undersheriff, the department's second in command, under Dan Bardsley's eight-year tenure as sheriff. He also served as a school resource officer (SRO) bringing drug resistance education to students, and he was the department's first canine officer with Digger, the drug sniffing dog. Through his career, he has had a variety of training, including the state Criminal Justice Training Academy and supplement courses for middle and upper supervisory levels, including the state Executive Command College. The latter is Washington's version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy, he said; instructors are officers from state agencies and the FBI. "That (Executive Command College) was the most amazing training I've done," he said in an interview last Friday. "You're in with other high ranking participants, captains and above. There are lots of team building activities and group work, and you can glean lots of knowledge from those officers."
Dearmore said he has been interested in law enforcement since he was a child. "My major focus since I was a kid is to protect and serve," he said. "My job as a police officer is to serve the people of my jurisdiction; as sheriff, it's service and to provide public safety. "As a law enforcement officer, if you don't have a heart for service, you won't be effective." In his career in Wahkiakum, Dearmore cites as a major accomplishment "the cohesive partnership we have with the citizens of the county." The department has reached out to citizens through the school resource officer and drug prevention program, through the establishment of the Citizen Police Academy in which citizens go through a scaled back version of state Basic Law Enforcement Officer Training, and through the development of the Search and Rescue program. "Officers have more visibility in the public and are more interactive with the public," he said.
Those programs, however, have fallen to budget cuts as the county and state deal with declines in revenues that have cost the department two deputy positions. "Unfortunately, money is the driving factor," he said. "I want to re-establish those programs. I want to find grants to increase patrol visibility. I want to set up a branch station in the Westend, probably at Johnson Park, where citizens could meet an officer to fill out forms or talk about issues. "I want the department to be more approachable and accountable. I want to support our volunteers. The sheriff's office lives off its volunteers; without them, we couldn't function nearly as efficiently as we'd like. "The way I measure success," he added, "is whether I leave my corner of the world better off than when I found it. "As an individual and as sheriff, that is my goal." He is running as an Independent. "I believe the office of sheriff should be non-partisan." he said. Dearmore lives in the Grays River Valley with his wife, Lori; they have a daughter, Kaelee, age 17.