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Sandy Police Chief Kim Yamashita took her message directly to Estacada residents as the Estacada City Council nears a decision on law enforcement coverage.

The city of Estacada has long contracted with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office for police services, but councilors are considering changing that arrangement by going through the Sandy Police Department instead.

Yamashita was the guest speaker at a Thursday, March 21, luncheon event set up by the Chamber of Commerce in the council chambers of City Hall. Around 40 people attended, including city officials from Estacada and Sandy, the Estacada Rural Fire Protection District, Drug-Free Estacada Families & Youth and members of the business community.

As guests dined on pizza, Yamashita provided background information on her career. She was on active duty in the U.S. Air Force until 1990 and has worked in law enforcement since 1993.

Yamashita, 51, began as a reserve officer with the Washougal, Wash., police department before working there for 10 years, eventually earning the rank of sergeant. During her brief stint with the Vancouver, Wash., police department, Yamashita was encouraged to apply as chief for SPD.

That agency has a case closure rate of about 75 percent, Yamashita said. Sandy officers are eager to meet new people and become familiar with Estacada if given the chance.

“This is exciting to them,” she said.

Three Sandy officers have submitted letters of interest for being assigned to Estacada if that agency is awarded the contract. Yamashita said officers will be subjected to a competitive process in order to be assigned to cover Estacada, and that city officials also will be involved in making that decision.

Yamashita invited anyone interested in doing a ride-along with Sandy officers to do so. She added that the agency is working toward achieving a state accreditation, with a final inspection scheduled for this week.

Sandy has been seeking accreditation for nearly three years, Yamashita said, characterizing it as a “huge process.” The agency has had to redo its policies and procedures as part of that project to reflect the best industry standard practices as well as current case law.

Estacada City Councilor Sean Drinkwine reflected on his recent ride-along with a Sandy officer.

“You’ll be amazed at the respect and integrity that these offices will give you every day,” he said. “I sincerely was impressed.”

During a question and answer session, Yamashita said Sandy has 14 sworn officers, including her. If the agency is awarded the contract, Yamashita said two of its officers would be assigned to cover Estacada.

Sandy officers don’t routinely leave Sandy, she added, and wouldn’t leave Estacada unless there was an emergency call. The transition of services from Clackamas County to Sandy “really would be fairly seamless,” Yamashita said.

City Manager Bill Elliott told audience members that the contract will be decided in May by city councilors.

“We really wanted to hear from the business community,” Elliott said. “If you’ve got issues, we want to hear from you.”

A representative from the sheriff’s office will address the chamber and its members at their April gathering.

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