The easiest thing to do in an election cycle is to circulate criticism of the opponent. What is more difficult, but more important, is to speak to the specific changes and plans that will take place following an elected official taking office.
Jeff Asher has spent 33 years serving and listening to the needs of the community, and never more diligently than in the last four years. After speaking with countless community members and public stakeholders, he has heard the public voice loud and clear, saying changes are needed.
That change needs to begin with transparency and is a value much needed in the Sheriff’s Department. That transparency is the cornerstone of the commitment he makes as a candidate. That transparency begins with sharing his vision for a better, stronger and more committed Sheriff's Department.
When elected, Jeff's first year in office will bring four new programs to the department and strengthen internal operations:
(1) Citizens Advisory Board,
(2) Sheriff’s Department Youth Explorer Program,
(3) Create a non-profit foundation to fund additional services
(4) Strengthen internal operations.
Citizens Advisory Board:
The first and most important goal will be the creation of a Citizens Advisory Board. Citizen Advisory Boards are an appointed group of individuals who meet for the purpose of looking at public issues in their communities over a period of time. The Advisory Board works to develop alternative solutions and recommendations in a comprehensive way. The goal of the members is to represent public interest and the diversity in our community. The overall mission for the board will be to restore trust, have policy oversight, raise personnel standards, and create transparency. Successful Advisory Boards throughout the country will be used as models for development. Members will be nominated by respected community members and represent a cross-section of our islands.
The Advisory Board will also serve as a Citizen Complaint Review Board. They will have the power to review citizens’ complaints and make recommendations to the Sheriff. Complaints will have a clear procedure implemented from the beginning, for investigation and follow-up. The community will have a restored faith that their concerns are being heard and not met with a “they protect their own” mentality as it is so often perceived. In addition, deputies and department members will know that their actions are investigated without inner departmental bias as well. Agencies who have utilized Advisory Boards find they result in more democratic and effective organizations. As Sheriff, Jeff will encourage active and engaged citizenry to improve legitimacy and trust, since the best public programs and policies emerge from collaborative efforts of citizens and government together.
Youth Explorer Program:
A Youth Explorer Post will be created on San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez Islands. The program is open to youth ages 14-20. According to the National Explorer Program, “The program offers young adults a personal awareness of the criminal justice system through training, practical experiences, competition and other activities. Additionally, the program promotes personal growth through character development, respect for the rules of law, physical fitness, and good citizenship.” Volunteer leaders have already stepped up to express interest and funds are available making it a budget neutral program.
Jeff has often been approached by supporters asking how financial support can be provided to the department. As a governmental agency, this creates challenges that many departments have overcome by creating a non-profit foundation to accept donations, secure grant funding not available to governmental agencies, and fund programs and opportunities for department members that are not able to be funded with government fund restrictions. Some examples might be additional training resources, equipment, costs of attending funeral services for line of duty deaths, or participation in State and National conferences.
Internal Strengthening of Operations:
Within the first year as Sheriff, Jeff will commit to the development of a robust recruiting effort for officers and reserve officers that extends beyond attendance at a job fair. This will allow for both the hiring of new deputies when vacancies occur, and also in the development of a strong reserve force to assist the deputies in meeting the agency and community needs. Strengthening the reserve force will be a primary focus of year two, once the groundwork has been laid. Jeff will also develop and implement a standardized background investigation protocol for all new hires. He intends to conduct monthly face-to-face staff meetings on each island rather than relying on email communication.
Transitioning to a subject that is a countywide concern and a problem that comes up with every person Jeff has spoken to: the problem with drug abuse on the islands. The drug issue threads itself through the crimes we experience in the community today. "Getting tough on drugs" has been used as a slogan with no teeth for far too long. Everyone knows who is dealing drugs and where they are being sold, and it seems to most people that nothing is being done to address this most serious issue. We know who the dealers are and we know where they are. What we need is the will to take the fight to them, rather than continue sitting back and keeping an eye on them. We need to focus on the places where drugs are being sold and used, rather than waiting until the users become a "crime in progress" report. And we need to get serious about the stolen property crimes that are financing so much of the drug use on the islands. The initiatives Jeff has planned will do just that.
Jeff is convinced his plan and vision will bring together community, young and old, with the department. No problem is solved alone and Jeff will not pretend to have every answer to every challenge; but together we can do better. Jeff believes that this community has an opportunity to become a model community for others to follow, but it will take all of us working together. In the words of Sir Robert Peel, “The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” This is the public promise Jeff is making to you, and we know he is looking forward to having you holding him publicly accountable for getting the results we expect and deserve.
Paid for by Jeff Asher for Sheriff (NP) https://www.jeffasherforsheriff.com/