Yakima County Sheriff’s candidate Dave Simmons of Zillah has never run for elective office before, but he’s convinced he knows what the department needs.
His overall plan is to increase the size of the patrol and investigative forces and improve the way deputies deal with the public.
“I can bring new leadership and direction to the organization and improve their customer service, their basic response times and priorities and fix the serious budgeting issues that have developed over time,” he said.
Simmons is strong in law enforcement experience, having started his career in 1987 at Eastern Washington University, while attending college. He retired as the Wapato Police chief in 2018.
He does not have as much experience in administration, but he has works as chief the last 12 years.
“My number one priority will to be a hire the deputies that have been budgeted for but not hired for several years,” he said.
Simmons said he has learned recently that the number of un-filled positions has fluctuated and changed several times. The number was 6 at the beginning of the year, he said. He said it’s obvious to him, by looking at the 2016-2017 and current budgets, that the sheriff’s office has utilized funding originally allocated for deputy salaries and benefits on projects and other non-salary items.
During this time, Simmons said, the sheriff’s office has been working fewer deputies on patrol. It has established additional “specialty” positions, such as four traffic enforcement positions, he said.
“In addition, at the beginning of 2018, they were under-staffed in detectives,” Simmons said. “The detective division was unable to adequately investigate serious crimes, such as sex offenses. At the beginning of this year, sex crime offenses had a backlog of over six months. This means that sex offense victims were not getting their cases investigated or handled in the speedy manner that they should have the right to expect from the Sheriff’s Office.”
“I have been told that this has been reduced by the addition of one deputy to their detective division,” he added.
“Again, this is way too slow of a response to a serious problem. As the Sheriff, I will change the allocation of resources and staffing to prioritize our basic responsibilities first.”