Sheriff in Town”
Sheriff Gil Gilbertson
- Over the last few sheriff terms we were given promises of great community
service and beefed-up patrols. Unfortunately for this community it never
transpired and that administration quickly laid blame on the public
for not voting for higher property taxes in the form of levies to increase
its yearly budget. Now we have a new administration headed by Sheriff
Gil Gilbertson, and again we were promised great things prior to his
election and we are now faced with another possible levy.
new, you might ask? Everything. With the loss of O&C funding looming
Josephine County, on a whole, is facing a crisis, and Gilbertson hasn't
just made promises, he is keeping them.
the previous sheriff Dave Daniel - who seemingly still has the support
of the Daily Courier and seems bent on weighing in by slamming Gilbertson
in their letters to the editor - Gilbertson is working with the county
commissioners to solve the departments funding problems. According to
Sheriff Gilbertson, the commissioners are doing a great job and really
have the best interest of the public in mind when making decisions about
the direction of the county.
And also unlike his predecessor Gilbertson
has already improved patrol in the Illinois Valley and the Northern
areas including Sunny Valley and Wolf Creek.
absolutely clear Gilbertson is delivering on his promises and that his
interest truly lies with continuing to create the best department he
can for all Josephine County residents.
to Gilbertson he often works double shifts. Days are spent working administration
and afternoon and evenings are spent on patrol backing up his deputies,
attending public meetings and also community gatherings where he has
been the focus of people's frustrations with the past administration.
Gilbertson said to this, “The public wants to know that we'll
do our jobs. I've heard from many people that it took days for deputies
to take reports on burglaries, if at all. The people are frustrated.
They want to know that when a report comes in, a deputy is going to
get back to them and I'm assuring them that they can contact me personally
should they feel nothing is being done.”
A New Department
Committed to “Excellence in Service”
As part of his plan to revitalize the
sheriff's department and give it a needed “face-lift” he
wants the public to get more involved and invites them to sign-up for
ride-alongs with deputies as well as animal control and also volunteer
for search and rescue. Gilbertson stated, “This will allow people
to get involved and see first hand what it is we do and what we are
faced with. It's a great way to develop a rapport.” Gilbertson
has already put changes in place raising the cap at the jail without
sacrificing safety and has his deputies on patrol in 3 zones to provide
adequate coverage for county residents, something that has lacked in
Gilbertson along with his undersheriff
Don Fasching are working toward streamlining the administration and
hiring process and they are planning town hall style meetings for further
public involvement in the department and their administration. “Hey,
I want the public to know that we work for them. That's important to
me,” Gilbertson said of his desire to be as transparent an agency
as he can be. To this end Gilbertson and Fasching are in the process
of creating a “blue ribbon” panel made up of knowledgeable
community members to hold them accountable.
Both administrators believe that they
and their deputies need to be held accountable for any questionable
behavior and they are putting a plan together to inform the public on
how to file a complaint should anyone in the department act inappropriately.
According to a source inside the department who spoke on the condition
of anonymity, “There was never one internal affairs investigation
done by the previous administration. If someone filed a complaint a
statement was taken, but that's where it ended and it was put in a folder
and forgotten.” While Gilbertson would not comment on what the
previous administration did or did not do, he maintains that it is imperative
to look into allegations of misconduct whether internal or external
to protect the residents, his deputies and department. According to
by not looking into allegations it could open the county up to litigation
and would also threaten the relationship he sees so necessary with the
Gilbertson has ideas on how to be more
proactive in raising funds for his department and they include being
a very aggressive grant seeker, re-implementing the contracting of work
crews, and the formation of a Justice of the Peace. Currently, all but
a small amount of each traffic ticket written by a sheriff goes straight
to the state. Only by having a Josephine County Justice of the Peace
would the bulk of those monies generated stay here locally. As for grants,
Gilbertson says he has several volunteers who are writing grants and
he welcomes anyone else who would like to put their time in on this
effort as well.
This administration is putting it’s
right foot forward and is making the needed changes to fulfill Gilbertson’s
promise to give Josephine County the best Sheriff Department possible.
On the Road
A personal experience with the sheriff
I walked into the public safety administration
offices located on the bottom floor of the Josephine County courthouse,
walked up to the sheriff window and asked for Gil Gilbertson. “Is
he expecting you?” came the reply. I smiled and said yes.
Soon thereafter Sheriff Gilbertson poked
his head out from behind a nearby door, smiled and said, “how
you doing Ron?” He was dressed in, what some news publications
have a peculiar front-page fascination with, a pieced together uniform
that looked nothing less than absolutely professional. He joked how
pieces of his uniform were still on order and made a motion for me to
sit. “How are things going, Sheriff?” I asked. He kind of
chuckled and said, “busy.” For the next hour Gilbertson
and I talked about the sheriff's department and his plans for its future.
One of the main points he wanted to express was how important citizen
involvement is and that he'd like to be open to having citizen ride-alongs.
I suggested allowing journalists to ride-along and report on what they
experience. To my surprise Gilbertson said he was going on patrol at
4 p.m. that day and he would be happy to have me join him. After the
interview I cleared my schedule, picked up a quad vanilla mac. mocha
from DB's, and headed back to the courthouse for what was going to be
an eventful evening.
I met Gilbertson at his mud-covered
patrol vehicle. A city officer approached us and began making fun of
the condition of Gilbertson's ride. Gilbertson laughed and turned to
me, "I really do need to get it washed. I just haven't had the
time." As we set out on the road he went on to say that the vehicle
had gotten muddy when he had recently been on a search and rescue call.
As we pulled out onto 6th Street he told me we would be patrolling in
the Williams area and then we'd head North before going to a meeting
off of Jump Off Joe Creek Rd. As we drove we continued the interview,
and shared ideas on pilot programs for the department when a call of
a two-vehicle accident came in.
no time we were on the scene and I was recruited to help with directing
traffic. Luckily no one had been hurt in the ice-caused two car collision
which resulted in cars spinning off into a ditch. Both cars had impacted
a local resident's fence and soon the owner of the property came up
to get information from the drivers. The property owner came over to
me and told me that his fence had been destroyed in an accident the
previous year and that he was never contacted by the sheriff's department
at that time and subsequently had to pay for the repairs himself, something
that should have been covered by the driver's insurance. He was pleasantly
surprised to see that it was Gilbertson himself on the call and offered
that he had voted for Gilbertson.
After the vehicles were loaded onto
tow trucks and the incident was cleared we finally hopped back into
the warm sheriff's bronco and headed north. On our way I asked Gilbertson
if he had read the recent letter to the editor published in the daily
courier written by Dave Daniel the previous sheriff which was less than
flattering of Gilbertson. He laughed and said that he didn't want to
stoop, so he had no comment.
Driving North on I-5 Gilbertson noticed
a vehicle exceeding 80 mph on several occasions and decided to make
the stop. I watched as he approached the driver, cautiously, but with
a smile. After a few moments of conversation with the driver Gilbertson
headed back. When he got in he told me he let the man off with a warning
even though the man had initially started arguing with him until he
realized he wasn't going to be ticketed. Away we went ...
While I've been in this area since 1996
it was my first time in the town of Wolf Creek where we patrolled the
local businesses, through the neighborhoods, and drove through the school.
Soon it was time for us to head to a
public meeting off Jump Off Joe. Local residents had gathered to talk
about recent burglaries in the area, and soon Gilbertson was being asked
why deputies never followed-up on past reports, all of which occurred
prior to Gilbertson taking office. Gilbertson shared with them his goal
for the department and what they could do together to help each other
and in all it seemed as if everyone left the meeting feeling better
about the state of their county.
As soon as we headed out, a burglary
call came across the radio. The home was nearby and Gilbertson parked
down the street from the home. He told me that he wanted to see how
long it would take for the deputy to respond. Within approximately ten
minutes of the call being dispatched (within 5 minutes of us getting
there), the deputy arrived and he was shocked to see the boss waiting.
Gilbertson smiled and said of his sneak inspection, “I have to
keep my guys on their toes!” The deputy took a report from the
homeowner and was honest and genuine in answering questions and according
to Gilbertson the deputy had done a great job handling the situation.
When my ride was done I had spent more
than 5 1/2 hours with sheriff Gilbertson and all of it was good leaving
me with a want to ride-along again. Hopefully sometime soon. As for
the direction Gilbertson is taking the department, he has the want and
will to make this a safe place for all residents and I for one don't
doubt that he will if we support him.
involvement in their own protection is a sure way to have a safer community
and the sheriff's department has volunteer positions available.
the Josephine County Sheriff's Office Administration at 541-474-5120
to see how you can help.
Snook’s Note: Sheriff Dave Daniel made many promises during his
campaign - most turned out to be lies. I helped Daniel get elected,
in fact on election night he told me couldn’t have done it without
my help. I deeply regret this mistake and I apologize to taxpayers for
believing in Dave’s lies. Gil Gilbertson hasn’t made too
many promises, but those he made he is keeping. To Dave Daniel I say
good riddance; to Gil Gilbertson I say good luck.
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