Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

Worry over election atmosphere

Dear Editor:

My name is Tim Quigg. For those of you who don’t know me, I am currently the Chief Civil Deputy for the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Allow me a moment to present my bonafides. I started my career with the Sheriff’s Office in 1981. I served as a Communications Officer in dispatch for 29 years. 25 years of that I was also a state-certified Reserve Deputy Sheriff, being afforded the unique opportunity to work both sides of the microphone. I was wounded in the line of duty, and am the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal from the National Association of Chiefs of Police. I was the Communications Center Supervisor for three years, and have been the Chief Civil Deputy since 2013. For those of you keeping count, I have been employed by the Sheriff’s Office for 41 years...let that sink in for a moment. That means I have had the opportunity to work for seven Sheriffs of Columbia County. I therefore believe that more than qualifies me to voice my opinion on the following.

I’m retiring soon, so I don’t have a dog in this fight. I think everyone will agree that the current election atmosphere in Columbia County has been extremely rancorous. Never in my 41-year career have I witnessed such bitterness and resentment! I’m sure you have seen the posts on Facebook and in letters to the editor in the local newspapers. These posts and letters were posted by people who would have you believe they have intimate knowledge of the internal workings of the Sheriff’s Office, when in actuality their experience with this agency has been limited to both Internet and front counter requests for public records. I can assure you that none of them have conducted any ride-alongs with deputies, or have spoken one on one with Sheriff Helm. As a result, their narrative has been limited to half-truths, character assassination and misinformation obtained from a couple of disgruntled individuals who would have you believe that the current administration leaves much to be desired. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

As stated previously, I’ve been in the Sheriff’s Office for 41 years. I’ve worked for seven Sheriff’s. I’ve literally seen hundreds of officers come and go, and I am here to tell you, this is by far the best administration I have had the honor of working for. Sheriff Helm is a man of commitment to this community. Within the past year, we have added six new officers to our ranks, allowing us to begin to consider true 24-hour coverage. During the pandemic, Sheriff Helm was working the road, responding to calls, putting in 16-hour days in order to make sure there were no lapses in service. I think you would be hard pressed to identify any other Sheriff in the State of Washington that did that. We have gone from a stepping-stone agency to one where officers from other agencies are calling us wanting to come work here! Does that sound like an agency with a hostile work environment to you?

Sheriff Helm’s philosophy includes the concept of providing officers with the equipment necessary to do the job. We all have new soft body armor to replace our old, outdated ones. We have department-issued side arms. New Tasers have been acquired to replace our old failing ones. Our staff is currently working to identify grants to replace our aging patrol car fleet. With over 100,000 miles on many of them, it often times feels like they are in the shop more than they are on the road. Sheriff Helm has re-established the Search and Rescue program. He has obtained a side by side vehicle free of charge to help better equip this program, as well as a drone through grants that will help aid in the search of missing people. With the help of other agencies, Sheriff Helm is creating a Sheriff’s Posse from which we can draw volunteers to cover special events in our community. All of this and not going over budget for the last 4 years.

Does the Sheriff’s Office have problems? Sure we do, as do other law enforcement agencies across the state right now who are coping with expired certifications, policy and procedure updates and other points as a result of the pandemic. However, unlike what has been portrayed recently online and in the papers, none of these lapses affects the quality of service provided by this agency to the community. None of these presents a clear and present danger to those we serve. These lapses are currently being addressed and taken care of. But it takes time and cannot be resolved overnight. We are at the mercy of other state and regional agency instructors and their training schedules, which are constantly full due to everyone trying to catch up from the pandemic. To this end, Sheriff Helm is sending key members of our agency to various instructor schools so that in the future we can maintain our certifications and training in-house, thereby no longer being reliant on other agencies.

I’m sure the majority of you out there have already read the Facebook postings and letters to the editor and have determined for yourself what they truly are. However, if there is the slightest doubt in anyone’s mind, I urge you to come to the Sheriff’s Office and speak with Sheriff Helm personally. Sheriff Helm is a man of integrity. He has always had an open-door policy, and stands ready to hear your concerns and address any issues you may have.

Tim Quigg

Dayton, Wash.


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