The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
The Times 

Foley Joins Columbia County Sheriff Race

Former Deputy Don Foley will face Joe Helm and Jeff Jenkins in August primary


DAYTON-Former Sheriff's Deputy Don Foley has announced his candidacy for Columbia County Sheriff.

Foley will appear on the August primary ballot for sheriff along with Deputy Jeff Jenkins and Chief Deputy Joe Helm. The two candidates receiving the most votes will move on to the November general election.

Foley said his training as a forensic interviewer has served him well in investigations of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse cases, and will serve him well in his role as sheriff.

He says he has given a lot of thought as to what changes he would make, if he were elected.

The department has difficulty hiring and retaining deputies, needs to create a better relationship with the community, needs to address the county-wide drug problem, and needs to help make schools safer, Foley says.

He said he would like to establish a local reserve deputy program, to get local people interested in a career in law enforcement and provide the county with some extra help.

"We could also advertise for veteran officers. They burn out in bigger places. It's stressful," said Foley who believes the rural lifestyle and close proximity to the Blue Mountains to be an enticement.

Foley said he would also reinstitute the citizen's academy and form a citizens' advisory committee to help develop a quality relationship between the community, and law enforcement officers.

With adequate staffing in the Sheriff's Department, a school resource officer would be available for the schools, Foley says.

With regard to arming teachers, Foley said he would like for them to undergo the same training as reserve officers do and earn that right.

Behavioral health interventions, particularly suicide prevention for youth, are also important, he said.

Foley said the county-wide drug problem makes other crimes in the county more acute.

If he is elected, he will hire a full-time detective to investigate drug cases, while making sure all deputies are knowledgeable about methamphetamine and its precursor chemicals.

Foley said additional patrols, even on primitive roads in the county, could happen with a fully staffed department.

It would be nice to have a reserve deputy or deputy living in Starbuck. The people there feel like they've been left out," said Foley. "They deserve the same service the people get in Dayton."

Foley is excited about the potential for stackable jail cell pods to address the situation with the outdated county jail.

"We could build pods with two bunks each, a sink and toilet, stack them, place them on a concrete floor and place a walkway behind them for the electrical and plumbing," said Foley.

He said the county could then contract with state and federal inmate programs to house inmates in Columbia County, which would offset some of the additional costs. All of this requires a big push for funding with grants, he added.

Foley's motto as he enters the race for sheriff is, "Your family is my family", and he would like to see some of that family feeling restored to the Sheriff's Department.

"I was in a shooting in 2008, and the support I got could have been better. Everybody talks about the Thin Blue Line. This stuff sticks with you forever," he said.

Foley said he worked as a full-time deputy, starting under Sheriff Mike Bergland in November 2003, until he was terminated by Sheriff Rocky Miller last month.

Foley had been off work since January 2017 because of injuries he sustained in a fall while on duty. At that time, he was treated for a broken leg, from which he is still recovering. In addition, he sustained a shoulder injury which required surgery in October, and from which he is still convalescing.

"I am pursuing my options about wrongful termination," he said.

"I love this area. I like helping people," said Foley who has also served a reserve volunteer with Fire District 1.

Foley and his wife, Carol, live in Huntsville. They have a blended family, and their children are Kourtney, 28; Stephanie, 27; Matthew, 23; Stephanie, 23; Deejay Meyer, 18; and Daniel, 12.


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