The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
The Times 

Jeff Jenkins Seeks Columbia Co. Sheriff Post


April 26, 2018

DAYTON – Jeff Jenkins says he has many ideas about how to address an understaffed and underfunded Columbia County Sheriff's Department, an inadequate jail facility, illicit drug use in the community, community trust and participation, working with other agencies to solve crimes, and restructuring the department to better serve the community.

"I ride around in a patrol car all day, and what else is there to do but think?" he said.

Jenkins will be on the 2018 election ballot this fall to replace Columbia County Sheriff Rocky Miller, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Jenkins said his nearly 19 years with the Sheriff's Office has led to a variety of training and assignments. His current assignment is as a narcotics deputy, working in tandem with Walla Walla, Garfield and Asotin counties on the Southeast Washington Narcotics Taskforce.

If elected, Jenkins said he will establish a "zero-tolerance" policy regarding illicit drug use. "There was a time when you could not get meth in the valley," he said.

Jenkin said, 95-97% of the crimes being committed in the county are drug-related, and 60% or more is related to methamphetamine. He said this has become more of a problem after funding from a pilot program to help rural areas combat illicit drug use ended in 2011.

"Grants are worth going after and staying after. I would like to have a grant writer in the county," said Jenkins.

Jenkins said the Sheriff's Office needs to be more transparent with the community, so people are aware of crimes taking place, and in which areas.

Crimes are more easily solved with public input, he said, and he plans to bring the community on board to help identify patterns of drug use and distribution.

Jenkins said an open line of communication between school administrators and the Sheriff's Office is important. He would especially like to get a school resource officer on board at the schools, and he said he is in favor of arming teachers to protect students in classrooms. Having deputies trained in newer techniques and trends is also important, he added.

Jenkins said that when crimes are committed and charges are filed, he would like to see greater follow-through. Hiring a part-time detective would help when investigations stall.

"Officers also need to be trained on what to charge. We're going to charge all crimes, DUI and drug charges. If we reduce drug crime we reduce overall crime," he said.

Jenkins thinks there is a role for staff to be more involved in other aspects of community service such as the Citizen's Academy.

Jenkins and his wife, Dina, have a 16-year-old son, Alex. He said his own community service has been family-oriented.

He has served as Touchet Valley Little League president, as youth soccer and summer swim league coach, and in 4-H as a leader, council member, and officer.

Jenkins said he loves serving in law enforcement and he wants the community to be a safe and welcoming place. "I look forward to the opportunity to serve the people of Columbia County to the best of my ability," he said.

Jenkins is a 24-year law enforcement veteran who began his career as a reserve deputy for the Payette County Sheriff's Office in Idaho. He became a jailer in 1995, attended and received his Detention Certification at the Idaho Post Academy, in 1996, and advanced to deputy the following year. He received his patrol certification in 1998 before being hired by the Columbia County Sheriff's Office in June 1999.


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