The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Proven lack of leadership


August 9, 2018

To The Eagle:

I find it very ironic that Sheriff Howie’s campaign slogan is “Proven Leadership.” After serving my community for 19 years in the Sheriff’s Office, I am sorry to say that the leadership within the Sheriff’s Office has been repressive and the current morale of most employees in the Sheriff’s Office is in serious trouble. Out of six deputies, one is retiring due to medical issues, two are in the process of leaving, and another two are looking to leave. All of them have dealt with not only the stress of surviving the day to day issues in law enforcement, but the stress of the lack of respect and support from leadership within the Sheriff’s Office.

I was let go in February 2016 and three deputies left the Sheriff’s Office prior to me. They left because of a similar work environment then. I survived as long as I did because of my military training, experience, and I loved my work. In the end, I elected not to fight, but to retire and serve my community in other ways. After 42 long years in law enforcement the toll on my physical health was a major factor as well. I see the same thing happening now as in the past.

The men and women of the Sheriff’s Office are incredibly dedicated to serve this community, but the toxic work environment has taken a toll on them that may well be difficult to recover from. Even the Washington State Patrol has had serious issues with the leadership in the Sheriff’s Office, once on my watch and at least once since then. When I left I told my colleagues in the Sheriff’s Office to watch their backs and remember that the respect of their leadership cannot be mandated or forced, that it is earned. It is obvious that has not occurred here. Seeing what is happening within the Sheriff’s Office profoundly affects me, my family, my neighbors, and my entire community.

I believe a change is so very needed. I believe Graham Phalen is the man who can make that change happen. He is far more experienced than Sheriff Howie, he knows how to take care of his employees, and he knows how to provide this community with honest, sincere, and professional law enforcement leadership. Listen to him talk, read what he has to say on his Facebook page, know that he speaks from 23 years of experience in a well-functioning Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department, a lot of which was due to his efforts and his leadership as a lieutenant. Check your ballots, make the change.

William R. Tawater



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