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Boyer sticking up for deputies in spite of it all
You have to hand it to Steve Boyer. Against all odds last week, the embattled Kitsap County sheriff came out in a published report and professed to be very proud of his deputies.
Boyers statement of support came following a particularly embarassing week that saw a deputy accidently shoot a man in the leg after hed climbed a tree and been reported as acting irrationally. The deputy apparently was trying to subdue the subject with her Taser but unholstered her 9-mm pistol instead and pulled the trigger, resulting in a non-fatal wound.
Earlier that same afternoon, another deputy was speeding to a bank holdup in East Bremerton when his patrol car hit another vehicle, crashed into a concrete barrier and went up in flames. The deputy was unhurt, but the car was destroyed and the accident is under investigation.
Just a month before, two deputies responding to a 911 call around 4 a.m. shot and killed a 26-year-old man said to have been wielding a machete. That incident, too, remains under investigation.
A lesser sheriff might have pointed out the irony of his deputies, of late involved in so many misadventures, simultaneously waging a particularly nasty campaign against Boyers re-election bid, in which theyve accused the two-term incumbent of incompetence.
But Boyer, the subject of a vote of no confidence from the Deputy Sheriffs Guild earlier this year, prefers to take the high road.
Meanwhile, Kitsap County last week issued a press release announcing it had reached a settlement agreement in its protracted contract neogiations with the deputies. According to a county spokeswoman, the Guild had endorsed the deal and planned to submit it to the rank and file on July 7 with a recommendation that the members ratify it.
However, according to the Guilds president, Deputy Mike Rodrigue, that isnt entirely accurate.
We havent made a decision whether to accept their latest proposal,Â said Rodrigue. We were surprised to see the countys press release. It gave the indication that it was a done deal, which is far from the truth.
Of course it isnt a done deal. That wont be the case until the deputies sign off on it assuming they do. But presumably the settlement has the Guilds tacit blessing or Rodrigue wouldnt have agreed to put the matter to a vote. Thats why unions elect representatives in the first place. If all hes doing is relaying the countys offer to his membership without a recommendation, what is Rodrigue doing that a fax machine couldnt?
Rodrigue, of course, finds himself in an awkward position anyway. According to most observers, hes the logical candidate to be named undersheriff if the Guilds hand-picked choice, Jim Rye, defeats Boyer. Nothing wrong with that except that the Guilds main gripe against Boyer is his inability to broker a contract deal beween the deputies and the county.
This would seem to create a conflict of interest for Rodrigue, who, on the one hand, is responsible for negotiating a new contract for the new deputies but also stands to benefit personally if the impasse continues at least until after the election. Which could explain Rodrigues seeming ambivalence to the deal struck this week.
As has been noted here before, tension between the sheriff and his deputies is nothing new in Kitsap County, and theres no question the deputies are taking very seriously their concerns about Boyer. The question is whether you should take those concerns seriously.
From where we sit, it seems like Kitsap County residents are being served pretty well by Steve Boyer. A lot better than hes being served by his deputies anyway.