PART 2: Sheriff’s Department… Safety of Island County Citizens Diminished Since 2008 Due to Commissioners Failure to Properly Prioritize Funding of Programs: many Not Even Mandated

 In 2008, the reality of our failing economy hit  Island County  and  Government  hard. After years  of being able  to fund  many   nice programs, but in 2008  Island County Commissioners were forced to reduce expenses

They failed to use proper budgeting techniques such Zero Base,  Priority budgeting, etc

Commissioners claim they have been using their version  of prioritizing spending but few, if any, non mandated  programs  have  been eliminated;  more have been created.

Too many “top rated” funding needs, aka no  rankings, exist in every department and no priotity rankings for anything is established by the Commissioners 

DUH, Every  funding  need  can’t  have a  #1 in ranking; what ever happened to numbers 2 3 4 5 6 etc, etc?

Ex-Commissioner John Dean set the stage for County’s budgeting approach for 2008, with this gem, “I have friends who are deputies and friends who are Beach Watchers, therefore I must treat them equally”

Dean’s  approach to  budgeting  continues  even today.  County has continued to fund non mandated programs and “Feel Good” socially Justified programs for special interest groups from that date until now

Since 2008, the Sheriff’s department staff has been decimated

The detectives division was reduced (re-assigned detectives to patrol) by 2 Detectives and 1 Detective Supervisor. 

Criminal Investigations (detectives) are no longer able keep up with currently ever increasing workloads.

Prosecutors office requests  for detectives to conduct additional follow-up investigation before charges can be filed, or in preparation for trial are  most often not available

Detectives are required to respond to newly committed major crimes, and follow-up requests from the Prosecutor take a back seat, not withstanding court and statutory deadlines, including rapes and homicides, where follow-up has been delayed for weeks and even months, due to emergent new cases.

Sheriff’s ability to assist the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on follow-up requests is hampered and the detectives are making difficult choices on a daily basis about which crime to investigate.

The complexity of criminal cases has increased over the years with technology.

White collar criminal cases often involve data-intensive and time-consuming investigations that are simply prioritized lower than violent crimes

Some of this genre have taken years to complete because of prioritization issues.

Almost every felony now, includes some technology element(s) that require forensic examination etc.

Compounding the Sheriff’s problems is the significant increase in major crime over the past 3 years and as I’m sure by now you know several of those included homicides which are extremely labor intensive.

In Langley and Coupeville, there are no dedicated investigators, although they are required follow-up on their felonies just like anyone else’s. That new demand also added extra work on the sheriff’s reduced existing staff

The civil/records unit is strained significantly. Since 2008 they have lost 1.5 records staff members and other staff members try to fill in, as available, but the job results suffer accuracy and missed schedules

Workload in the jail also dictates minimum staffing during specific times in order to accomplish mandated duties (i.e. taking prisoners to court, medical appointments, etc), but they are at least 3 corrections deputies understaffed to accomplish required minimum obligations.

Citizens need the Sheriff’s organization to be pro-active, progressive, and community involved.

They need Law and Justice to change and make Island County safer.

Job overload results in staff burnout and personal stress problems

Their employees must be properly trained and they deserve most importantly the back-up they deserve. 

The Sheriff‘s priority is to be on the service of providing emergency response; not after the fact report writing.

The Sheriff Department’s primary job is not to provide Citizens with heavy-handed traffic officers! They need trained personnel who will be problem solvers not ticket writers!

We deserve better

This problem can not be solved in just one year but  it  must start NOW

It’ll take at least 3 years because of lack of availability of trained police officers, training requirements of inexperienced officers and normal force attrition

Now is the time for action; not just talk

Part 1,  of this series  of  articles,  Prosecutor’s  problems,  is  at this link:



  1. “They failed to use proper budgeting techniques such Zero Base, Priority budgeting, etc…”

    When cuts were made to the Sheriff’s staffing some years ago now, (ostensibly, due to needed budget cuts), I penned a letter to the local newspaper suggesting that whenever Island County saw its revenues increased, that replacing the Sheriff’s staffing should be priority #1. I ran into Sheriff Brown shortly after that letter appeared, and he made a point to thank me for the public support. My position has not changed, yet the Sheriff is still being revenue-short-changed by the powers-to-be at Island County who think they know better than the non-elected peons.

    “Citizens need…Law and Justice to change and make Island County safer..”

    Where do some people get the idea that everything always is still A-OK in Island County with Law and Justice? Well, for one thing, the Sheriff is up against a well-oiled media machine that perennially serves to paint his operation as some sort of rinky-dink, “keystone-cops” law enforcement agency.

    For example, the local Black Press newspapers not only regularly print selected excerpts of 911 calls that often make it seem like crime on Whidbey is a joking matter, but at least one local radio station – 92.9 KISM, Bellingham – has a regular on-air feature called “Whidbey 911” which generally makes fun of the numerous reasons people call 911 on Whidbey Island. The radio station specifically credits the Whidbey News-Times (WNT) for the information they use in that regular segment.

    So, we have a local press which perennially dedicates dozens or perhaps even hundreds of inch-columns to information that forms the basis for a popular radio comedy routine which, at their essence, both serve to undermine positive public perception of the need for increased Island County Law and Justice revenue and staffing.

    No, it’s not some kind of conspiracy theory between the WNT and KISM that I am suggesting, but, year after year, clearly, this sort of selectively chosen “free publicity” does not help the Sheriff convince people that he needs more resources. Whether done intentionally or not, this “free publicity” does serve to suggest to people that Island County is some sort of backwoods place where law enforcement is simply sitting around, with little to do of any real importance.

    Will the WNT now endeavor to stop this published information from being pejorative toward island County Law and Justice? Of course, they will NOT. They would claim that their “reporting” somehow serves the public’s interests, to which I say: “rubbish”.

    “The Sheriff Department’s primary job is not to provide Citizens with heavy-handed traffic officers!”

    When on weekdays I spy sheriff’s deputies hidden on a pullout out at 5:30 AM along Golf Course Road, or at 8:45 PM along Clover Valley Road, with Ka band traffic radar blazing away, I do find myself saying to myself “Seems to me maybe we have more than enough of those guys”.

    Perception is often reality for may folks. I get a great deal of more information about what the Island County Sheriff’s office is up to while with my own eyes while on my way to the NASWI or from KISM (courtesy of the WNT) than I do anywhere else.

    I know that’s not all that Law and Justice in Island County is doing, but if I believed only what I mostly see and what I mostly hear and read about Law and Justice on Island County, I might be led to believe otherwise.

    “Now is the time for action; not just talk”.

    As long as “action” does not become a cry for more taxes to provide this core service that we are already paying for, I agree.

    1. BillB, “As long as “action” does not become a cry for more taxes to provide this core service that we are already paying for…”

      Citizens must exert a lot of pressure every day on the Commissioners to force them to eliminate unmandated, and their “Feel Good” programs. This and only this will demonstrate to citizens that they have done their best job of fiscal management for a change!!!

      That action will prove to the citizens that whatever Brown and Banks require will not be as much of a tax burden as it would have been before their cost reductions of unmandated programs
      Maybe by eliminating programs the total tax burden to citizens could even decrease their TAX load

      Face facts; in this economy there is too much competition for the citizens’ Dollars; they spend only what is necessary
      We need to make the case that dollars for Brown and Banks should be included as a necessary item in their limited spending plans

      Commissioners have started to respond to Public pressure with a big NO to Homola’s gun ordinance
      maybe soon reversing the much discussed increased cost but unwanted Recycling fiasco

      The best move the Commissioners could make would be to also eliminate the Clean water PUD that they approved on a Christmas Eve without it requiring voter approve

      This move was to get even with voters for their 72% overwhelming rejection of Prop 1

      Once again our know-it-all tax and spend Commissioners did what they wanted to do TO island County citizens; not FOR the citizens

      Maybe with Homola gone Emerson and Johnson will be able to serve citizens and THEIR needs for a change

      1. “The best move they could make would be to eliminate the Clean water PUD that they approved on a Christmas Eve without it requiring voter approve…This move was to get even with voters for their 72% overwhelming rejection of Prop 1”

        Exactly. The so-called Clean Water PUD was shoved down the property owners’ throats against the wishes of a CLEAR SUPER-MAJORITY at the polls, and it was so-named such so that anyone who speaks up against it could be erroneously lambasted as being against “clean water”, even though it has really NOTHING to do with preserving or creating clean water!

        But, let’s not also forget that the “Clean Water Utility” was only one of THREE BRAND NEW taxes brought to Island County voters during the Homola/Price-Johnson dynasty!

        As of this year, on a typical, $100,000 piece of undeveloped property in unincorporated Island County, the THREE NEW property taxes brought to Island County residents (and their 2013 costs to a property owner) are:

        Clean Water Utility $39.13
        Island County Conservation Future $5.57
        Whidbey Conservation District $5.50

        Total per $100K of valuation: $50.20


    2. “This is the same WN-T that has annoyed the new CO of NASWI as “sensational”.”

      What does this even mean?

      What does it have to do with the article?

  2. I find it very unsettling that this post has generated zero comments on a weighty topic.

    Yesterday, coming home from Navy League on 411W, I saw a guy on that bus who was very likely a gang-banger. Shaved head, white t-shirt, lots of tats – especially around the eyes like gang-bangers (I have personal, intense experience with this and when I see tats around the eyes my heartbeat quickens). The guy just made me want to get off the bus, it looked like he was sizing up other passengers from the front with his head on a swivel. I also understand gangs run rampant around the Island.

    I also hear rumors Aryan Nations and other white supremacist terrorist groups are moving onto Whidbey… especially on the south end. If true, time to increase the law enforcement forces.

    Gotta run, my ride to NASWI & the OLF is in dire straights. Frankly, I left this tab open so I could tone down my comments.

    1. “I also hear rumors Aryan Nations and other white supremacist terrorist groups are moving onto Whidbey… especially on the south end.”

      In the past, we’ve already had events occur on South Whidbey regarding white supremacists, so those recent rumors may have some basis in reality:

      “Robert Jay Mathews, founder of the white-supremacist group The Order, is killed during an FBI siege on Whidbey Island on December 8, 1984.”

      “I saw a guy on that bus who was very likely a gang-banger.”

      Island Transit = “The Felony Flier”. Now, you know why.

      1. “The Felony Flyer”,LOL. I remember decades ago in Baltimore City looking at a map that depicted the radius of crime around bus and subway stops which was far more concentrated than in other areas. We import criminals for Skagit county for free, they commit their crimes, and then it’s back on the bus. It’s not like they are going to be stopped for a tail lamp that’s out that would lead to further investigation, i.e warrants ect…

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