Tillamook County Board of Commissioners approved during a board meeting Wednesday, June 9, an agreement between the City of Rockaway Beach and Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office for the sheriff’s office to provide police services.
Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Matt Kelly said Rockaway approached the sheriff’s office about contracting for law enforcement services for the city due to personnel issues. According to the sheriff’s office, Police Chief Charlie Stewart resigned to take a position with Adventist Health Tillamook. Two officers from the police department will be hired at the sheriff’s office soon.
“The state requirements for hiring law enforcement make it challenging,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be difficult for a small town to have a small department. In the next few years, I think it will be very rare that a department of 10 men will exist in the state of Oregon.”
The agreement is in effect as of June 10, 2021 through June 30, 2023. It may be extended for an additional term by mutual agreement by the city and county in writing. The sheriff’s office will assign one full-time deputy sheriff to make patrols and provide law enforcement within the city. As staffing resources become available, the sheriff’s office will assign up to four full-time city patrol deputies.
Kelly and Sheriff Josh Brown will be covering a couple of shifts from Rockaway.
“I know what I’m in for,” Kelly said. “We’ll make it work. I can see the reward coming out the other side.”
Brown spoke about the partnership during the Rockaway Beach City Council meeting the evening of June 9 and answers questions from the council and citizens. He said Kelly grew up in Rockaway. Stewart has helped with the transition.
“What you guys are going to be able to gain is the full force of the sheriff’s office,” Brown said. “We’re county wide. We have a large department.”
The sheriff’s office deputies working in Rockaway will have an office at city hall to be ready to respond to calls and write reports, Brown added. Response time would be from city hall for the most part.
The sheriff’s office is currently looking to hire more staff to get to a point of having four deputies in Rockaway.
“It is an active process,” Brown said. “We’re aggressively recruiting to make sure we get those positions filled with quality candidates.”
Brown said Kelly would serve as a deputy sheriff working in Rockaway to help the deputies understand some of the city’s ordinances. The sheriff’s office wants to build a relationship with the city.
The contract is for four full time deputies for day and night shifts, with some time in between for on-call.