Jason Pollock swears in as Jefferson County Sheriff
A giddy crowd of supporters welcomed a smiling Jason Pollock into the Jefferson County Commission chambers Monday, June 20. When the digital clock flipped to 5:01, the contractual moment of the transfer between sheriffs, County Clerk Kate Zemke administered the oath of office.
"Now the real work begins," said Pollock. "I'm going to do everything I can to make this community better." One of his first jobs, Pollock mentioned, will be to fill two key positions. Last week Jail Commander Lieutenant Amber Hanohano turned in her resignation, along with Sgt. Ryan Grote, long seen as resigning Sheriff Marc Heckathorn's right hand man. Both will be gone at the end of the month, with rumors of more leaving. Mark Foster, reserve officer at Camp Sherman, also turned in his resignation, but says the transition simply gave him a good opening to do what he's been considering for a long time. He needs more time to care for family members. "I need to reassure people that things will be fine," said Pollock, who says his top priority is to restore stability to the office. "At any time of change, especially in law enforcement, people get concerned whether they still have a job or whether they'll get demoted. I think it's important for people to feel comfortable where they're at."
Pollock wants to quiet the rumor mill. "Unless they hear it from me," he said, "they shouldn't believe everything they hear."
Retired Sheriff Jim Adkins has gone through the transitions of six sheriffs. Almost every time, the transitions prompted resignations and threats of resignations. "I respect those who resign rather than stay and make trouble for the new administration," said Adkins. Adkins stepped in to take a photo with Pollock and as he stepped away, patted Pollock's bullet proof vest and whispered, "Just keep doing the right thing." What does doing the right thing look like to the new sheriff?
"Being open and willing to learn from others, and not always believing that you have the right answer," said Pollock. "It could be the smallest guy on the totem pole that has the right answer. Your willingness to listen to that person, your humbling yourself to be able to do that is important." Pollock says he's tried to make a habit of doing the right thing. He points out that law enforcement particularly must learn to make split second decisions between wrong and right decisions. The ability to make the right decision, he said, "comes with experience, life and work experience," Pollock said, "It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and takes only a moment to destroy it."
Uniformed officers from other agencies lined up to take their photo with Pollock, among them Senior Trooper Clint Prevett with Oregon State Police. He expects Pollock to create good working relationships with other law enforcement agencies in the area. "Enough people don't like police. We should like each other and work together as a team," said Prevett. He also gave Pollock advice. "Great leaders don't need to know everything. Surround yourself with people who know things."
Pollock says other agency heads have already reached out to him: sheriff's from other jurisdictions, the county council, county administrator, the business manager of the office. "There's a lot of knowledge in what everyone does around me," said Pollock. "I plan to surround myself with anyone who has advice." Pollock spent the last week as acting sheriff, "So, I've already started drinking from the firehose of all the things I need to do." Pollock recognizes he has a huge job ahead of him. "I'm going to take this one day at a time."
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