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Melanie, The editorial in the Journal/Sounder is insulting to me as a reader. There is a reason this article was an opinion piece and not a true investigatorial news article. They begin by stating they have investigated the Parker situation for six months. My first concern is why the Journal didn’t investigate the Parker situation when the alleged misconduct was first brought to light. Why wait a few years until an election to try and understand the hiring process?

The Journal editorial states, “It’s unrealistic to ask the prosecutor’s and sheriff’s office to spend that much time on a background check.” What we as the reader aren’t told is, how much time was actually spent on the background check? Did the Journal review the application process that a prospective deputy provides for a background check and compare it to Washington RCW’s to make sure background investigations in San Juan County are even meeting the minimum standards required by law? Did the Journal reach out to other departments in the state to compare what the average standard is in a background investigation? How exactly did they determine what “too much time” is.

The fact of the matter is, background investigations are one of the most important aspects of the policing community. Spending the time to make sure you are hiring the right people not only ensures you’re providing the best to your community, it also reduces the risk of potential lawsuits in the future due to unethical and improper behaviors. These are people that not only wield the power to take away our freedoms, they also have the ability to destroy a department from within. Time should be spent to answer all questions raised. All leads should be followed to determine if a concern is valid - especially in a department where they are policing themselves with no outside oversight.

In their timeline of events, the Journal completely left out the email sent from Krebs to Gaylord documenting that they had information from Asher. The Journal then goes on to determine, “The Journal concludes that there is no evidence, at this point, to show that the county could have known of Parker’s proclivity toward misconduct.” But later in the article write, “They (Krebs and Gaylord) should have called Sinclair (Asher’s source).” So, basically, the lead wasn’t followed up and should have been. Since the lead wasn’t followed up on, there was no evidence of misconduct added to the file. Since there’s nothing in the file that shows misconduct, then there is no evidence. Are you following me here? What a circle of ridiculousness - of course the “county couldn’t have known” because they never followed through. You can’t avoid investigating something and then say you had no idea.

The Journal leads the reader to their assumption that, “Both (Asher and Power) seem to be prioritizing mistakes they attributed to the incumbents as opposed to bringing new ideas to the positions.” This is blatantly false. Yes, both Asher and Power are bringing to light serious concerns they have, but they have also laid out plans on what they would do in office/do differently. Asher has had a well documented plan on his website and discussed it at every forum. It’s insulting that the Journal purposefully keeps that information to themselves.

In regards to the Journal’s conclusion, “You cannot blame Gaylord and Krebs for disregarding documents that blackout critical names.” Actually, you can. All prospective employees sign legal releases allowing background investigators to acquire copies of documents without the usual redacting you would see in a public records request. The fact that there isn’t an unredacted version of the United States vs. Green documentation in Parker’s file to prove or disprove the concern further shows how the San Juan County Sheriff’s background investigators expected everyone else to do the investigation for them. Continually discussing how others should have given them the documents required, doesn’t negate from the fact that they, themselves should have been requesting these documents and following through on any and every concern.

Even more interesting, the Journal glides right past the concern about lying to the county council, “We do agree that Krebs and Gaylord should have been upfront with the county council that Asher told them Parker was corrupt. Transparency is always the best option.” Transparency is the ONLY option when you’re a public servant.

Nearing the end of the opinion piece, the author writes, “Power and Asher have perpetuated spreading false information”. What exactly is this false information that is being referred to? The Journal article admits that Asher gave information about Parker, the information wasn’t followed up on, and that Krebs and Gaylord should have been upfront with the council. This has been the basis of Asher and Power’s arguments in regards to better transparency and more thorough background investigations. 

What I didn’t see in this “endorsement” was a comparison of all the other issues discussed at the three forums. There is information about some of Krebs successes, but no real analysis about his weaknesses. The people in the community have concerns about the increased drug issues, reduced amount of arrests, and, among other things, faulty investigations with domestic violence welfare concerns. As journalists, why aren’t they covering more of the issues?

This endorsement, and self-described “investigation” is nothing more than a hack job by a few reporters who just want to push their own agenda through biased reporting that’s submitted as an opinion to avoid giving fair and balanced information about both sides. Thanks, but no thanks.

Thank you Sharon Kivisto for gathering information and leaving it for the reader to decide what weight to give to the different sides.