By Brock Hires
Former Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow stepped into the uniform of Okanogan County Sheriff Jan. 1, and plans to lead by example.
Early last year, Budrow mentioned the prospect of running for sheriff, but most expressed some hesitancy.
“Talking to my peers, they said that would be stupid because you can’t beat an incumbent,” Budrow recalled. “I was, like, ‘I have to at least try. I just can’t sit back and let something happen that needs to be fixed; Friends that I have were all like, we think you’re crazy for doing this because this is a huge shot.”
Budrow said his top order of business - aside from arresting bad guys - is to “bring back the moral.”
“The Sheriff’s Office is looked at as being one of the premiere entities in the county as well as the state,” he said in late December ahead of swearing-in. “Bad guys will have consequences.”
Staff recruitment and retainment, along with revamping jail protocols are two areas Budrow hopes to address in the immediate.
“The next two months we're going to build moral and get bodies to work,” he said. “We’ve had conversations with quite a few of them (former deputies). Now that they know there’s a different administration, they’re willing” to come back to the sheriff’s office.
He named Dave Yarnell as undersheriff and Rick Balam as third-in-command.
He also plans to look at ways to improve the county’s Search and Rescue team, along with animal control and the drug task force.
“And there will be a PIO (public information officer) and there will be much more communication,” Budrow added.
Budrow also plans to better bridge the gap between the Sheriff’s Office and the community.
“I’m part of the community,” he said. “I plan to get with the community and give them as much information as possible and why we don’t do certain things. There’s going to be a much more open community presence.”
He said he envisions designated deputies to certain areas of the county to help build officer-community interaction.
“When there’s something going on we’re not the bad guys coming in,” he said. “If there’s something that needs to get back (to the sheriff’s office) right away, it can be relayed right through that officer.”
Budrow has a long history in law enforcement. He has served as the chief of police in Twisp for 11 years. Before moving to the Methow Valley, he was an instructor at Skagit Valley College and served as the chief of police for Upper Skagit Tribe for eight years. Budrow was also an instructor for the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, among several other leadership roles throughout the state and a U.S. Navy veteran.
“Family is huge,” he said. “My wife has been the backbone for this whole family.”
Together he and wife Aimee have 12 children ranging in ages from 4 to 33.
“I’m extremely thankful to all of the people who voted for me and the ones who didn’t vote for me,” He said. “For people who voted for (former Sheriff) Tony (Hawley), I have no problems. I hold no grudges because that’s part of democracy. We keep an open mind and strive to be the best law enforcement entities in the county and in the state of Washington. Thank you all for voting. It’s going to be my honor to severe as their next sheriff.” ♦
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