Six interim sheriff applicants tout experience
Six applicants for interim Jackson County sheriff are touting their wide-ranging experiences and goals as they vie to be appointed successor to outgoing Sheriff Corey Falls.
Falls, who has accepted a policing job in Gresham, will serve his last day as sheriff Friday.
On Tuesday, Jackson County Commissioners will begin discussing the candidates who applied to finish out the remaining two years of Falls' four-year term. Commissioners have yet to decide whether they will convene a community panel to review the applications and make a recommendation.
In his application, Jackson County Sheriff's Captain Nathan Sickler said he has the skills, ability, experience and temperament to be sheriff.
"My intention, if selected for this position, will be to guide the agency along a similar path that Sheriff Corey Falls has established for us," he said.
Sickler said he can offer a smooth, seamless transition for the sheriff's office and its constituents. He indicated he is likely to run for election when voters have the chance to pick a sheriff again.
"I have aspirations to serve Jackson County beyond this two-year appointment and look forward to the opportunity to serve the residents of Jackson County for years to come," he said.
Sickler oversees patrol operations for the sheriff's office. He said his accomplishments include spearheading the body-worn camera program and improving training and supervision in his division.
He previously worked for the Klamath Falls and Phoenix police departments and earned a criminology degree from Southern Oregon University in 1999.
Jackson County Sheriff's Captain Danny Penland has worked in the department's corrections division for 32 years, where he oversees 78 employees and an $11 million budget.
He noted corrections is the largest division of the sheriff's office.
Penland said the department's patrol, civil and records departments and search-and-rescue operations are running well, and he wants to maintain the strong standards. He also wants to continue the positive and cooperative relationship of employees within the department.
"We currently have a relationship with the Employee's Association that is the best I have seen in my tenure," Penland said in his application cover letter. "It has taken the hard work of the sheriff, myself, the other managers and our employees to improve what was a broken relationship."
Like Sickler, Penland said he would like to continue on the path set by Falls.
"Sheriff Falls brought a new direction to the sheriff's office, which I feel needs to continue," Penland said. "I believe the sheriff's office has a better working relationship in all aspects of its service in the community, and is viewed in a better light due to the inclusion of people of all backgrounds and cultures."
Penland, who received a criminology degree from SOU, said he understands the history of the sheriff's office, and he wants to seek continued growth and professionalism and work cooperatively with other county agencies.
Jackson County Deputy Sheriff Ian Lance, who also has a law degree, said he can begin work immediately as sheriff because of his broad experiences in the marine, patrol, investigations, administration and traffic divisions. He began working for the office in 2004.
Lance said he has experience working with the full budget of the sheriff's office and has worked on both sides of labor issues — the administrative side and in union leadership. He said he understands the financial constraints of the county, as well as the motivations of employees.
While working in traffic enforcement, Lance said fewer than one percent of people who received tickets sought a hearing at trial.
"This tells me that I am equitable and effective at my primary mission of gaining public trust and changing their behavior," he said in his cover letter.
Lance also said he was a thorough child abuse investigator, and one of his most horrific cases resulted in the longest sentence ever imposed in Jackson County. The child survivors said during the perpetrator's sentencing they would be able to move on in life because they were believed.
Winters was first elected sheriff in 2002, but dropped his bid for a fourth term after being defeated by Falls in the 2014 primary.
In his application, Winters said he already understands the workings of the sheriff's office and could continue operations without any interruption of services or threats to public safety.
Winters said he would return with greater strength and confidence, but also with humility and greater awareness of changing times.
Winters said he would ramp up traffic enforcement, which has been cut by Falls, in order to improve road safety and cut traffic fatalities.
Falls has said there was a public perception deputies on the traffic team were writing tickets to generate revenue. Sickler has also said the sheriff's office was dealing with staff shortages and it wasn't appropriate to have almost half of patrol deputies devoted to the traffic team.
Winters also pledged to reduce early jail releases by reopening a section of the jail Falls closed.
Falls has said the section could not be staffed without forced overtime, and employees there were unable to keep up with training requirements because of the workload.
Winters said he has learned he should have been more transparent while in office, instead of focusing only on solving problems and handling situations.
"If given the opportunity to serve again, for the next two years I plan to accomplish the necessary things not only for the safety of the citizens, but also to see, listen to, and share more openly whenever possible," he said.
Robert Sergi was in a three-way race for sheriff in 2014 with Winters and Falls, with Falls ultimately winning the office.
"I recently ran for sheriff of Jackson County to change the culture of the agency to include the community in our decision making, to make the office more transparent and to provide better communication with all segments of a diverse agency and community," he said in his application cover letter.
A lieutenant with the sheriff's office at the time of the race, he was terminated from his job after the Oregon Department of Justice investigated him for alleged illegal solicitation of campaign funds. The DOJ dropped the investigation because of insufficient evidence.
Currently a real estate broker, Sergi said he has 35 years of experience in law enforcement and can provide a professional transition if appointed sheriff. He said he worked as jail commander, patrol commander and administrative lieutenant.
"This broad experience gave me a unique and invaluable insight into the organization," he said.
Sergi said he prioritizes training because it makes employees more confident, competent and professional, and also reduces liability for the county and community.
William Froehlich, now a Rogue Valley resident, worked in law enforcement for West Valley City, Utah, from 1990 to 2008, when he retired as a lieutenant.
In a resume, Froehlich said his responsibilities ranged from supervision of sergeants and line officers to handling use-of-force reports and serving as a press information officer.
He has experience as a training coordinator, domestic violence investigator, a K-9 unit supervisor and in ensuring security for ice skating and hockey venues during the Olympics.
In a reference letter, West Valley City Assistant City Manager Paul Isaac said Froehlich is a man of integrity and honesty, was always concerned about the safety of the men and women who served under him, worked to ensure fair treatment for all employees and was a mentor to many in the department.