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Angela Brandenburg takes over as the new County Sheriff posted on 02/01/2021

Angela Brandenburg took over as the Clackamas County Sheriff last month, following the retirement of Craig Roberts after 16 years on the job. Brandenburg is the 33rd county sheriff since 1845, when William Livingston Holmes became the first.

Brandenburg has served with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) for 27 years, working up through the ranks from Reserve Deputy to Undersheriff, while also taking on roles including the Public Information Officer and as a member of both the Search & Rescue and SWAT Teams. She also served for five years as the Director of A Safe Place Family Justice Center and was responsible for leading CCSO’s Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team.

Brandenburg, who lives in Molalla, also served nine years in the Oregon Army National Guard.

Roberts, who joined the CCSO in 1979 as a reserve deputy, praised Brandenburg in a statement he released upon his retirement.

“Sheriff Brandenburg is taking command of an incredible operation,” Roberts said in the statement. “I know the Sheriff’s Office will only further its tradition of excellence under her leadership.”

Former Sheriff Roberts’ full statement is available on the CCSO website, www.clackamas.us/sheriff/news.

To introduce the new Sheriff to our readers, the Mountain Times (MT) emailed a series of questions to her, which are presented here:

MT: What has been your experience, both as a member of the CCSO and as a civilian, when visiting the Mountain?

Sheriff Brandenburg: “Early in my career I did a stint as CCSO's Public Information Officer, and I also had the honor of working closely with the Mountain community for several years as a Sheriff’s Office representative on the Mt. Hood Coalition Against Drug Crime citizen group. This relationship continued as a Patrol deputy and Sergeant, when I served on the front lines in the area. During this time, I became familiar with residents' deep love for their community, as well as their passion to keep it safe. As a Clackamas County resident, I know we're so fortunate to have Mt. Hood in our backyard. I love the outdoors and visit the mountain with my family often. I recognize this community survives in part thanks to visitors like my family.”

MT: You have spent 28 years with the CCSO, why did you choose this career path and what do you find most rewarding about your work in the CCSO?

Sheriff Brandenburg:  “After graduating high school, I joined the Oregon Army National Guard, following in the footsteps of family members who enlisted. That marked the beginning of my public service. I joined CCSO as a Reserve deputy and quickly realized this was the work for me. The ability to help people who cannot help themselves is absolutely rewarding. I jumped into full-time law-enforcement work with both feet, and I'm honored to serve my community each and every day.”

MT: Clackamas County includes urban, suburban and rural areas throughout a large land territory.

What are the biggest challenges in covering such a diverse area?

Sheriff Brandenburg:  “Although patrol is the most visible part of our office, we provide many services across the county. We are responsible for the jail, court security, civil service, investigations and search and rescue, and we have many special units and partnerships throughout the county. Managing all of these responsibilities, keeping performance at a high level and meeting the expectations of our diverse communities is a great challenge.”

MT: Members of the Mountain community have expressed concerns in the past regarding two subjects in particular: response time after calling the CCSO and speeders on Hwy. 26.

How can the Sheriff’s Office work toward improving these issues on the Mountain, and what are the challenges in doing so?

Sheriff Brandenburg: “Highway 26 is the major thoroughfare on the mountain, and I realize traffic related issues are of concern. 26 is a state highway, which makes it the jurisdiction of the Oregon State Police. As you know, their staffing is low at the moment, and they do not provide 24-hour service. Our deputies supplement in the area by providing patrol services, traffic and DUII enforcement, and crash response.

One of my priorities is to determine if we're using our resources effectively and efficiently. To that end we'll be working with an outside firm to conduct a comprehensive staffing study. We'll be looking at how we staff our patrol districts, including looking for any areas where service can be improved.

We're also talking to our Patrol deputies, who know their districts well and are familiar with areas that are likely to need more attention. In their available time, those are the areas they generally patrol. We stop a lot of criminals in the act by using these proactive approaches.

My goal (is) to use the information from this staffing study to drive our decision making regarding our resource allocations early in my administration.”

Editor’s note: The staffing study Sheriff Brandenburg mentioned was approved and began in early January. It is expected to take up to 15 weeks to complete.

MT: The Search and Rescue efforts have gone through restructuring in the past year: where do they currently stand and do you have any other plans for further changes to the structure?

Sheriff Brandenburg: “Year after year, we are seeing a 10-15% increase in the number of searches we conduct. Last year we restructured and formed Clackamas County Search and Rescue (CSAR), and still work alongside volunteer organizations such as Portland Mountain Rescue. We have great working relationships with our partners in the search and rescue community. That's key in accomplishing SAR missions, which often involve multiple agencies and organizations working in concert. I will continue to strengthen our relationships with our partners. This in turn will improve our capabilities to conduct safe and successful missions.”

MT: Police agencies face so many challenges in this day and age, what is the biggest challenge for the CCSO?

Sheriff Brandenburg:  “Currently the lack of resources to help those affected by mental-health and addiction issues is one of the biggest challenges, not only for CCSO but for all our local law-enforcement partners. The lack of these resources and the recent closure of the Hooper Detox Stabilization Center means more people are ending up in the jail and the criminal justice system, where they do not belong. You have to address these problems at the root, leading with addiction and mental-health services.”

MT: In the past year, there has been a discussion in this country about police reform and how police interact with people of color. Do you see any opportunities within the CCSO to make changes along these lines?

Sheriff Brandenburg: “Under my leadership, we will continue to be dedicated to serving all of our communities. One of my goals includes engagement with all of our communities by every level of my office – from deputies on the street to my command staff. What I do know and recognize is that many communities are fearful of law enforcement, and we have to meet them where they're at. Together, through open and safe dialogue, we can be more responsive to their unique needs, promote trust, and make improvements in the services we deliver.

Another priority of mine is to promote transparency and officer safety. I’m seeking funds to purchase body-worn cameras for our personnel. I want the public to better understand our work, and I believe these cameras will be a helpful tool and critical to transparency.”

By Garth Guibord/MT

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