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Kittitas County Sheriff

The county sheriff has a number of duties relating to: (1) law enforcement and public safety, (2) jails and confinement facilities, and (3) civil functions for the court system.

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  • Candidate picture

    Clay Myers
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Bart Olson
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

1. What experience makes you suitable for this position?

2. Do you believe a sheriff has the authority to decide whether a law is constitutional or not?

3. How will you ensure the Sheriff’s department does not racially profile our citizens?

4. What could be done to make policing more balanced?

5. What is your solution to the increasing need for substance abuse and mental health services in the jail?

Party Preference Republican
Experience (Max 500 characters) Sheriff Clay Myers has spent his entire 34-year law enforcement career with the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office. Starting as a Corrections Officer, he moved through the ranks: Line Deputy, Sergeant, Commander, and was promoted to Undersheriff by former Sheriff Gene Dana in 2004. As Undersheriff for 16 years, Clay ran the day-to-day operations of the office. Clay Myers is uniquely well-qualified because he has served in nearly every position in the KCSO both operationally and administratively.
Campaign Phone (509) 426-3087
Campaign Email campaign@claymyers.org
Town where you live Ellensburg
I have spent my entire 34-year law enforcement career with the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office. I have served as Corrections Officer, Patrol Deputy, Detective, Patrol, Sergeant, Chief Criminal Deputy, Undersheriff, and Sheriff. Also the Special Response Team, Dive Team, Swift-water, Ice Rescue, Crisis Negotiations, and State Marine Patrol Instructor.

As Sheriff, I manage 90 employees and the office budget which is currently $10 million annually. I have executive-level training related to preventing bias in policing, managing Internal investigations, use of force policy and training, jail management, substance abuse, mental illness, and restorative justice.

I currently serve on or work with the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs’ Legislative Committee, Washington State Boating Safety Committee, Washington Drowning Prevention Coalition, Wenas Wildlife Advisory Board, Upper County Traffic Safety Task Force, and the Domestic Violence Task Force.
No one individual is granted the authority to determine if a law is constitutional, only the people and the judiciary are legally granted that authority. The Sheriff does have the authority to determine types, levels, and priorities of enforcement.

The separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches was intended to remain clearly defined so that no one branch could assert control over the others or the people. The people are also granted the authority, through the ballot box, to create law and to determine if the government has become 'tyrannical'.

The Sheriff is identified in statute as the top executive and purveyor of peace in the county. The Sheriff is sworn to protect the people and uphold the Constitution and the Laws of the State; laws which are occasionally in conflict with each other. This is where the Sheriff is obligated to use all means and discretions to protect the public and individual rights.
Racial profiling is generally the result of an individual officer's beliefs combined with their disregard for the law. It cannot be accomplished by accident. The culture of the agency has the largest impact on the mitigation of those types of unacceptable behaviors. The culture of the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office is defined by the Sheriff, influenced by the community, carried out by the staff, and supported by the law.

This Sheriff's Office does not racially profile now and I will ensure it does not in the future by selecting command staff and supervisors with the ability to identify improper behaviors, a willingness to intercede, and the courage to correct or remove them. We will continue to use and build on training and policies that promote equality and fairness from our selection process all the way through our promotional and retention process.
We must strive to have the internal demographics of our law enforcement agencies complement that of their community. We must also select leadership with the experience and courage to create and maintain an agency culture that is dedicated to the fair and unbiased application of the law.

Though law enforcement agencies must adapt to the specific values, needs, and expectations of their community, core requirements should be consistent across all jurisdictions. The adoption of uniform standards, especially in the areas of search & seizure, use of force, and anti-bias policies is paramount. Washington State law enforcement is among the nation’s leaders in this area with the creation and adoption of accreditation standards for policy and the Peace Officer’s Certification Program.
First and foremost, to continue meeting the need.

We introduced the Hub & Spoke program to improve the Medically Assisted Treatment Program by increasing the availability of providers, counselors, and navigators. We train jail staff on appropriate responses to behavioral issues and indicators of withdrawals, substance use disorder, and dual diagnosis de-escalation techniques.

The department has established agreements with Central Washington Comprehensive Healthcare, Community Health of Central Washington, Compass Direct Healthcare, and offer mental health services.

We are developing community-based resources for Medical Assisted Treatment and mental health to create a warm handoff when inmates transition out of the facility. We also have an agreement with HopeSource to develop and implement re-entry resources for inmates as part of the 2nd Chance Grant Application.

We participate with the County Health Network on strengthening access for opioid use disorder patients.
Party Preference Republican Party
Experience (Max 500 characters) I have served over 28 years in law enforcement. Three years with the Kittitas County Sheriff's Dept., as a Reserve and Corrections Officer & 25 years with the Washington State Patrol. I have spent majority of my career in Kittitas County, but have worked in 8 counties in our State on various details or special assignments. I promoted to Sergeant with the WSP in 2013. I was on the Law & Justice Council, Grants Committee & WSP Safety Team. I have a BA in Law & Justice & Psychology Minor from CWU.
Campaign Phone (509) 312-0635
Town where you live Thorp, WA
I have served over 28 years in law enforcement, recently retired from the Washington State Patrol. Throughout my years of service, mostly in Kittitas Co., I have built a progressive reputation of trust, integrity, honesty, accountability, and professionalism. I have worked on solutions and partnerships to make roads safer, have supervised a wide range of criminal investigations, and have trained many law enforcement officers with a focus on accountability and safety. My career began at CWU, having received a BA in Law & Justice, Psychology Minor. I served as a KCSO Reserve Officer, KCSO Corrections Officer, WSP Governor’s Mansion Cadet, and WSP Trooper in North Bend and Kittitas Co. I promoted to WSP Sgt in 2013. I had supervisory authority over a detachment in Monroe and then Ellensburg. I have served as Field Training Officer, was on the Aggressive Driver, Serious Highway Crime and WSP Safety Teams, and member of Kittitas Co Law & Justice Council, Grants Committee.
In WA, County Sheriff’s swear an oath to “…support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Washington, and … [to] faithfully discharge the duties of the office …” It is a well-established legal principle that laws passed by the legislature are constitutional unless the law is clearly unconstitutional or a fundamental right is implicated, and whether or not a law is constitutional is a decision within the purview of the judiciary. Use of responsible, fair, and measured discretion is vital in law enforcement. As Sheriff, my discretion would not only be guided by my conscience and many years of experience, but by regular and competent legal advice following a thorough legal analysis. I would not expect the department to spend time or resources on violations of law with questionable or unsettled constitutional validity, and would prioritize those matters of particular concern facing the citizens of the county.
Education, training, and auditing of contacts are critical to eliminating and understanding whether and how racial bias is playing a role in the discharge of our duties as law enforcement officers. Listening to affected communities, and truly understanding the impact felt and the perceptions held will be at the core of my leadership. I will engage in dialogue with the community, gather facts, and deploy audit practices that will provide informed and factual feedback. Every self-initiated contact should be documented with reason for contact, the sex and race of the subjects, and whether an arrest, citation, or search occurred. Video records will be leveraged for objective review, complaints followed-up on, and arrests will be audited. I have been formally trained on implicit bias and how it impacts law enforcement; and commit to annual training for all who serve within the Sheriff's office to ensure just and fair treatment to those with whom we come into contact with.
The job of a law enforcement officer requires a unique personality capable of making split second decisions often in dangerous or uncertain situations, and capable of making tough decisions that greatly impact personal liberties. Contrary to popular belief, most law enforcement officers are in it for the right reasons, to serve and protect their community, and do so with empathy and compassion, but with a strong sense of justice. Abuses of power should not and will not be tolerated. Equal publicity should be given to police successes and community outreach. Increased emphasis should be placed on Crisis Intervention Training; focusing on De-escalation and Peer Accountability, to recognize and reduce use of force incidents. As well, the citizenry should be educated on how behavior at the time of police intervention can contribute to escalating a situation and undesired outcomes. This, of course, assumes a level of trust in law enforcement that needs to be earned over time.
A Mental Health Counselor and a Substance Abuse Counselor should be assigned and available in every jail across our state at all times. I would like to see people incarcerated in the jail have the opportunity to be seen immediately by such counselors. This would allow those with mental or substance abuse issues to be diverted to programs aimed at helping reduce the issues often underlying their criminal behavior. I have seen many people with mental health problems self-medicate with illegal substances and further complicate recovery, when assuring an appropriate and supervised legitimate and prescribed method of treatment would have been more effective. Diversion programs and recommendations by law enforcement to such programs can greatly help reduce recidivism and the burden on law enforcement agencies.