It is our belief that when a mistake is made, the best thing to do is take full responsibility, look at why it happened and implement changes to prevent it from occurring again.
It’s a process that we are happy to see the county also follows. In the wake of a disastrous error in judgement during a 911 call, the Sheriff’s Office has responded exactly the way it should. We applaud Sheriff Ron Krebs for addressing the issue head-on, holding a town hall meeting and making changes within his department.
An Orcas man was the victim of a home invasion when a masked, gloved assailant allegedly broke into the house we was staying in and threatened him with a gun in the early morning hours of Feb. 9. After the victim and his brother called 911, the dispatcher contacted the sergeant on call to determine if a deputy needed to be sent out. She was told not to notify a deputy, since the assailant was no longer on the premises, and that the incident would be handled at 8 a.m. that morning.
The dispatcher and the sergeant made a significant error in judgment. The call involved a break-in, a gun and death threats, so it’s pretty clear that a deputy needed to respond immediately. This kind of gross negligence should never happen again.
But human beings make mistakes, and we believe that this oversight was not done maliciously or with ulterior motives.
When Sheriff Krebs heard about the incident, he and his detective took the next ferry to Orcas to meet with the victim and his family. Over the course of the investigation, they have devoted hundreds of hours to locating a suspect. The reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the assailant has now reached $25,000 thanks to a $10,000 donation from OPALCO and money from the sheriff’s office as well as community contributions.
Krebs held a town hall meeting on Orcas last week. He answered questions from the community and explained what he is doing to improve the dispatch center. He explained that in the past, when deputies are not patrolling (usually between the hours of 3 and 6 a.m.), a dispatcher will call a sergeant to determine whether or not a deputy should be paged. Krebs says that while this has historically been successful, it is now time to change procedure. Dispatchers will no longer have to ask permission to send out a deputy, and Krebs has instructed his staff to not hesitate in making that decision.
When Krebs was elected to sheriff in 2014, he implemented new training practices for all dispatchers. Instead of an online course, they attend classes on the mainland and learn from professionals in the field. And with recent funding from the county, the sheriff’s office can now afford to have two dispatchers on call 24 hours a day.
Since he took office, we have been impressed with Sheriff Krebs’ communication with the community, leadership within the department and weekly submission of sheriff logs to the press. The way he has handled this current firestorm affirms our belief in the Sheriff’s Office.