By Curt Chancler and Jeanne Wollman
Elections, especially on
the local level, are becoming more important each year. Those elected
have an enormous impact on the community they serve.
The sheriff in
any county has a difficult job that demands a strong, knowledgeable
leader. The two who have filed for sheriff in Jackson County, Oregon
are the current Sheriff, Mike Winters, and Medford Police Department’s
Lt. Tim George.
Sheriff Mike Winters
Sheriff Winters was elected
in 2002, on the promise to put more patrols on the road with a faster
response time in the rural areas. By instituting 12 hour shifts and
some key personnel changes Sheriff Winters was able to patrol and increase
protection for those located along the 1000 miles of roads that run
through Jackson County. Moving the patrol headquarters to the Medford
Airport has increased efficiency and decreased costs.
Another problem that had
to be rectified was an out-of-control Community Justice Department.
Director Robert Grindstaff had been served with a letter of no confidence
and charges of corruption by his staff and other county employees. Then
it was discovered Mr. Grindstaff had placed serious offenders at the
Star Gulch Ranger Station near Ruche, Oregon rather than the low level
offenders purported to be there. Sheriff Winters exposed the deception
to the citizens of Ruche by stating he worked for the citizens and he
refused to be a part of this deceit. Mr. Grindstaff has since retired
and Community Justice is now in the capable hands of Mr. Danny Jordan.
One of Sheriff Winter’s
many strong points is his commitment to serve the public. He continually
seeks input from not only his department but throughout the county.
He demands progressive and proactive leadership from himself and those
Needed improvements in the
jail and an increase in inmate housing is a work in progress but much
has been accomplished. The addition of state-of-the-art computers in
patrol cars has given deputies tools that were only dreamed of a few
years ago. Sheriff Winters didn’t stop with his department; he
has tied other departments to this highly productive technology.
Sheriff Winters implemented
a County Child is Missing Alert system which can place up to 1000 calls
a minute to homes around the area where a child is missing, which complements
the more widespread Amber Alert.
Budget cuts over the years
have reduced patrol deputies to a current low of 28 at a time when the
number of calls for a deputy have dramatically increased. In the first
nine months of 2003, there were 20,497 cases handled by 28 deputies
in the 2,801 square miles of Jackson County.
In comparison the
Medford Police Department reports that during that same period they
responded to 19,983 cases with approximately 100 fulltime officers covering
only 22 square miles.
Lt. Tim George
Also running in the sheriff
race is Lt. Tim George a 28 year veteran of the Medford, Oregon Police
Department (MPD). George, 49, is married and the father of two. He moved
from Portland in 1974, to attend Southern Oregon College and then accepted
a position with the Medford Police Department. He was in charge of patrols
and his current position is supervisor of detectives. Lt. George also
hosts a MPD show, Rules of the Road, on the local RVTV Public Television
As reporters we can say
that Sheriff Winters is very accessible to the public and the press.
We have found that it is very difficult to meet with Lt. George. It
might be noted that Medford Police Department maintains very tight security
and little public interaction with citizens. It appears that Lt. George
is in agreement with those policies. If it appears that we are short
on information regarding George it could be because of his inaccessiblity.
This is definitely a drawback for George.
As for complaints of corruption,
an area the US~Observer specializes in and therefore receives far more
calls than mainstream presses, we have had no complaints against Sheriff
Mike Winters administration during his first term in office. We have
had 36 complaints to-date regarding the Medford Police Department, however
only two against George personally, one of which was unfounded.
The US~Observer has recently
adopted a policy of not endorsing political candidates. However, having
dealt with sheriffs across the country we have not witnessed one where
a sheriff has been as open to the public as Winters and where a sheriff
has actually kept all his election promises. Mike Winters is a first.
One last area of concern
for voters regards a sheriff or high level officer actually getting
out and working with his deputies, handling cases, etc. In dealing with
law enforcement on a daily basis those of us who work at the Observer
have witnessed both the need and the positive results when those running
any department share personally with law enforcement duties. A close
look at Mike Winters record shows that he excels in this category and
a close look at Tim George’s history shows clearly that he does
has brought you, the voter, the important facts you need to make the
all-important decision of who to vote for in the upcoming election for
sheriff in Jackson County, Oregon. Make that decision wisely, as these
days it is a very expensive decision indeed!
UPDATE - EDITOR'S NOTE: My, my, how things change... In these 5 years since this write-up on Mike Winters he has proven that he turns a blind eye when it comes to the wrongdoings of those beneath him and that he is not the man that was once thought of so highly. Sheriff Winters should reread the Constitution, and act accordingly.