Beidler vows to change sheriffs office
August 27, 2008 · Updated 3:58 PM
MARYSVILLE Hes the youngest lieutenant in the Snohomish County Sheriffs office and now he wants the top job.
And it looks like most of his peers want Rob Beidler there too.
The 40-year-old Arlington resident has garnered the support of just about every law enforcement guild, union or deputies association, and frankly admits that he was prompted to run by his fellow deputies.
He repeatedly used the word we in a recent interview, citing a lack of direction for the sheriffs office, a morale problem causing too much turnover in sworn deputies, and outdated technology that wastes the time and efforts of those men and women.
He is the youngest of three candidates on the Aug. 21 primary ballot, and makes it very clear he would shake things up from day one. He said many of the departments tasks can be done by using less expensive technicians rather than sworn officers, and that a new computer system would eliminate repetitive and redundant chores while providing deputies with timely access to information.
Beidler also said he is the man to rebuild relationships between various county agencies and that his union support reflects the confidence law enforcement workers have in him to let them do the job they were hired to do.
We are the ultimate crime documenters, not crime fighters, Beidler said bluntly in a recent interview. Thats another reason our attrition rate is so high its not what we signed on for.
According to Beidler there is a triangle of death composed of the sheriff, the county executive and the Snohomish County Sheriffs Deputies Association.
These three agencies have been fighting for 20 years, Beidler said. One big happy crime fighting family would be great.
The 17-year veteran noted a turnover rate in his department that is much higher than turnover rates in other agencies and that something needs to be done about it. It is mostly morale-based, according to Beidler, who said his peers want to know that there is a game-plan and that the top dog knows what he is doing. In recent budget talks the County Council sent back the sheriffs budget because it didnt list the departments goals and objectives. Sworn officers deserve better than an ad hoc system, he added.
We dont have a direction, he said. We are the only agency I know of that doesnt have a plan or a direction.
Some officers have quit with only two days notice and many resent a rising sense of futility, he added.
We just put out fires, Beidler said. The people on the road do not know our administration.
If elected sheriff Beidler said he would relieve deputies of many onerous or repetitive tasks, by using a corps of cadets, younger employees who might be on a track to become police officers. They can answer phones and direct people to the right department, and officers who are injured or waiting to get into an academy can take reports by phone or transcribe reports dictated by deputies. Sworn officers cost the county $75 per hour, and Beidler said he can provide five crime scene technicians for the annual cost of two deputies. In addition, community service officers can perform many functions more efficiently and less expensively. The CSOs will be reinstated ASAP, according to Beidler.
About 37 percent of all incidents dont need a deputy, but the callers do want to know theyve been heard and that the department is responding.
We send a gun and a badge and a fast car to every call, Beidler said. If they insist on a deputy theyll get one, but for the third that dont need a badge there should be options. Every call handled by a CSO or a technician frees up a deputy for a more serious crime. He said the county has three times more SWAT teams than it needs, and that those specialized resources like SWAT and canine teams could be shared by smaller city police departments.
Beidler is a bitter opponent of community policing, saying its a waste of time and money and is a fad that has run its course. But he would still work on building relationships with citizens by holding block watch parties and meet and greets with organizations.
That is such a connection that we lost, Beidler said. I do it for free.
Like the other sheriffs employee in the race, assistant chief Tom Greene, Beidler is staying away from pledges to put more boots on the ground. On the contrary, he joins Greene in calling for more back office workers to do the routine and monotonous tasks deputies are over qualified for. But those chores will be done more efficiently than they are now under his leadership, citing data that has to be entered manually up to four times with the current computer system. Deputies cannot file reports from their cars, and cant retrieve reports from their laptops, at least not very easily. And most damning, the crime analysis and intelligence units system is antiquated.
For $2.1 million Beidler will put the sheriffs office on the same data entry and dissemination system used by the Skagit and Island county agencies.
We just keep throwing band-aids at it, Beidler lamented.
Those systems have fallen behind because of a lack of priorities in the office, he said. That hurts because often the sheriff doesnt know where resources are being used, according to Beidler, who said the department busted its overtime budget by more than $500,000 this quarter.
Nobody can tell you why, because we dont track it, Beidler said.
Looking at the last nine fiscal budgets he said they are all individual segments that did not build upon each other and that there were no long-terms goals incorporated in them.
Its not only dumb but these things fiscally kill us, Beidler said. It also kills morale when they find out these things happen.
He said support from the deputies union doesnt mean he is beholden to them, and that an endorsement now during the race wont effect department discipline. The police unions have endorsed him because of his leadership abilities, he said, and not because of any promises. He has given discipline to officers as part of his job and that will continue if he is elected.
They dont expect me to be their friend, Beidler said. They expect me to do the right thing. They believe in my leadership, they believe in my strength and integrity.
That goes for the support of the two major political parties, which should not be a factor in a nominally non-partisan race that has seen brass at other departments support Greene and the Democratic Party support Lovick. Republicans have not endorsed any candidates, although Bart, a party member, serves on Greenes steering committee.
I owe nobody anything, Beilder said. I am a non-partisan guy.
That wont impinge on the need to work effectively with the county executive and Council. Past bickering was done via headlines and sound bites, but Beidler said under his administration the sheriff will give and take as well.
Well do it like adults, Beidler said, adding that there wont be any public shouting matches.
An Arlington resident for 10 years, Beidler is married and has two children aged nine and four years. He received his bachelors degree in business administration from Western Washington University.