The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office has four vacancies leaving the remaining officers to move up in rank as they take on new hires.
“We have a lot of officers who have been here for 20 to 30 years, so it isn’t surprising they are retiring at the same time,” said Sheriff Ron Krebs.
With new employees come new attitudes, perspectives and behaviors.
Undersheriff Brent Johnson retires March 16, and Sgt. Zac Reimer will take his place. Deputy Scott Brennan will retire April 1.
“Brennan was going to retire sooner, but when he realized how close it was to April Fools’ Day, he couldn’t pass the opportunity,” Krebs said with a chuckle.
Deputy Felix Menjivar left the department in February to pursue a different career, according to Krebs. Orcas Island Deputy David Holland was injured over a year ago and has not been able to return to work. What that means, Krebs said, is that he was taken off county payroll, a standard procedure. Holland remains hopeful he can return to work eventually, according to Krebs, but in the meantime, the spot needs to be filled.
Krebs won’t be surprised if over the course of the next three to five years, more officers, like Jeff Asher, will also retire, who are pushing the 20- to 30-year mark.
“I am hoping to hire a mix of people so this [mass retiring] doesn’t happen again,” Krebs said, explaining it isn’t unusual, in fact, Washington State Patrol is undergoing a shortage for the same reason: people are hired at the same time, and then retire at the same time.
The interview process has already begun, with the undersheriff and at least one sergeant sitting in. Krebs said there are many highly qualified candidates, adding he is hoping to find officers who will be invested in the community and willing to get to know islanders.
“We are looking for people that are thoughtful, who will listen and enforce the law in a caring way,” Johnson said, noting that it can be difficult to tell from one interview if they will be a good fit with the community.
The county’s current housing crisis, which has already impacted seasonal and low wage-workers, is a concern.
“Right now there isn’t a lot available, so I could fill these positions and not have a place to put them,” he said.
Beyond that, he is looking forward to taking time to shape the department and choosing deputies that will be positive assets to the community.
“I hope my legacy will be successful, productive officers, and that I will leave the department in better shape than when I arrived,” Krebs said.