Opinion

Kitsap was — and is — lucky to have Boyer

About this year’s election for sheriff, let me say what I said eight years ago when the seat was open. We were lucky, lucky, lucky to get a man the caliber of Steve Boyer to run for it, and luckier yet that he was elected.

He then was Lt. Steve Boyer, district commander of the state patrol for nine years with extensive experience in administration, criminal investigations, SWAT team command and disaster management.

At 47, he was overdue for a promotion to captain but promotions in the WSP required moving the officer to another location — for him it would have been Spokane, and he liked it here.

His wife, a nurse, and their three kids, in junior high, high school and the UW, liked it here, too. So he chose instead to file for the top county law enforcement seat being vacated by Democrat Pat Jones.

Why anybody would want to be sheriff here I don’t know. Jones, the son of a past sheriff, Dean Jones, suffered a massive case of burnout from all the trouble he had with the deputies, who have always felt, as I see it, that they should be running the show as they did under sheriffs more inclined to management from afield.

The department was in constant turmoil and Jones got a stress retirement.

Filing to fill the vacancy were three deputies, a security man, a Bremerton cop and Boyer. Jones endorsed Democrat Mike Davis, but Boyer bested him in the primary and beat Republican Charles Avery in the general election. He was re-elected in 2002.

So did the deputies settle down under their new boss? Perish the thought. They have managed two votes of no confidence in the sheriff. They are bickering with the county over pay and health benefits to the point where the county commissioners authorized the filing of an unfair labor practice charge against the Deputy Sheriffs Guild, claiming its members have not bargained in good faith. The Guild says it’s the reverse.

Boyer has added 26 deputies to the force, which now numbers 260 plus 200 volunteers. When he became sheriff, a recruit with no experience and requiring nine months training, was paid $33,000 a year plus benefits.

Today, the newcomer with no experience goes on the payroll at $47,000 a year. He gets $1,000 a month for medical benefits. His uniform and cleaning of same, his weapons and a car are provided.

If or when he’s promoted to sergeant, he gets a minimum raise of 5 percent more.

Sounds like an attractive package to me and probably is the reason that no matter how much they cry about how poorly they’re treated, none of them has left except to become chiefs of police or some such elsewhere.

Mike Davis is now the police chief in Gig Harbor and has endorsed his former rival for the Democratic nomination. Former Sheriff Jones also has endorsed Boyer.

The Guild’s candidate to become sheriff is Deputy Jim Rye, a veteran of 32 years with the department, which to me is more of a minus than a plus. We needed someone outside the department in 1998 and got the best man going for it.

Even the Guild admits in its propaganda that Boyer is popular with the people. I met with Boyer before writing this and practically everyone who entered the restaurant where we had lunch knew him and came over to greet him. It’s important that people admire and respect the officials they choose to look out for their own safety and well-being. We chose well in Boyer and, as I said before, we’re lucky to have him.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at PO Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.

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