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By Max Erikson

Sheriff: KCSO saw increase in prowling, fraud, and burglaries


January 3, 2018

The Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office had a busy and accomplished 2017, and trends in statistics show that 2018 might see an increase in more drug related crimes.

Calls for police services in 2017 for Klickitat County saw an increase in reports by victims of home invasions, car prowling burglaries, and fraud, according to data compiled by the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO). There was also an increase in calls for incidents of criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and people under the influence of controlled substances. However, there was a drop in calls for domestic disturbances and harassment.

Drugs and drug related crimes continued to be a big problem in 2017. Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer says his team will continue addressing that problem as a priority in 2018.

“We will make a bigger push against drugs in 2018,” Songer says. “As Sheriff, I’m going to put a lot of pressure on people involved with drugs, but I hope they make the right choice and get out of that lifestyle. I encourage people who have drug addictions to get help or go to treatment, but if you’re involved with it, eventually we will catch up with you.”

Songer projects the county will see more home invasions and car prowlers in 2018 and that nearly all of those types of crimes are drug related.

“Some people think I don’t have a heart because of my tough stance on drugs, but I fully support treatment,” Songer Says. “It’s just that a lot of the criminal activity that we deal with is drug related.”

In addition to the continuing effort by the KCSO to crack down on drugs and drug related crimes, the Sheriff’s department also was able to fund and staff a full-time Sheriff’s Office in White Salmon in 2017. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; the new office has benefited west side residents who can now do some county business there instead of driving to Goldendale.

“The west end office was an accomplishment to a promise I made when running for Sheriff,” Songer says. “I have gotten a lot of good feedback from citizens who can now get various permits and do other county-related business there instead of making the trip to our offices here in Goldendale.”

During Songer’s tenure as sheriff, he has cultivated strong working relationships with the city police departments in Goldendale, Bingen, and White Salmon. Part of that cultivation was using his authority to swear in local city officers as special deputies for the county.

“That really helps out the county and gives local city officers jurisdiction to follow up on crimes in the county that aren’t in their normal area,” Songer says. “In such a large county, it can be hard to respond quickly to calls that we get. We only have three or four deputies on duty at one time. By coordinating with the city officers we can cover a lot more ground, and we have a great working relationship with those departments.”

His approach to how he manages the KCSO seems to be working, as Songer says the morale of the department is good moving into 2018.

“From the deputies, to the corrections officers, the front desk, and the entire staff, we all play a major role in the morale issue,” Songer says. “And I’ve heard nothing but good things. When you treat people fairly and allow them to do their jobs, that goes a long way to creating a positive work environment.”

In 2018 Songer will be exploring ways to create a system for victims of crimes to get updates to the status of the investigation into their criminal case.

“Sometimes weeks or months can go by after a crime has been committed, and people often call us wondering what is going on with the case,” Songer says. “I would like to address that issue and create a way for people to access information either online or some other way. But if we make an arrest or find evidence related to the case, we always contact the victim.”

In total the KCSD received 4,817 calls for services in 2017 and served 1, 571 civil papers.


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