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Meet the CSOs

Community Service Officers (CSOs) man our public desks, teach crime prevention and offer crucial backup to deputies investigating crimes. In a new series of Sheriff’s Office web profiles, you can learn more about these unsung employees critical to CCSO’s daily operations.

Meet our Community Safety Officers
Community Service Officers Sara McClurg (left) and Letitia Walker.

One of the most public-facing jobs at the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office is also one of the least understood.

You meet them when you go to a Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office station desk to file a police report or ask a question. You meet them when you attend a crime-prevention presentation or start a Neighborhood Watch. You might talk with them during a criminal investigation.

They’re Community Service Officers, or CSOs. And they’re critical to the day-to-day operations at the Sheriff’s Office and in the Clackamas County Jail’s public lobby.

“A CSO is a non-sworn, uniformed officer with limited peace-officer authority,” explains Letitia Walker, who’s worked as a CSO for over a decade and is currently stationed out of Happy Valley. “Basically, we can work on criminal investigations up to the point of an arrest.”

They're also, as CSO Rose Parkhill explains, "the first point of contact for the public who come to the Sheriff’s Office — we man the two walk-up windows.”

“We’re often the voice of the Sheriff’s Office on calls for service that don’t require immediate assistance,” says Lorenzo Medina, a CSO who’s worked for both the Patrol and Jail divisions over a 12-year period.

CSOs enjoy a broad range of duties. They’re prepared to answer questions from the public on a dizzying array of issues — everything from directions to criminal law to procedural questions, such as the process for filing a restraining order.

They also register sex offenders, take police reports, and back up Search & Rescue Coordinators by helping corral resources.

They even conduct their own investigations.

“We help free up deputies on the road by responding to so-called ‘cold crimes,’” often involving property crime, explains CSO Julie Fanger, who works out of Wilsonville (and also keeps track of cases for CCSO’s popular “Can You ID Me?” webpage). “Because we respond from the desk by phone in all districts, we may also be the first to recognize certain crime trends — such as package thefts, scams or acts of criminal mischief.” This can be critical when coordinating a police response to, say, a package-theft crime spree targeting a specific neighborhood.

CSO Sara McClurg is a critical public face for the Sheriff’s Office. As CCSO’s Crime Prevention Coordinator, she gives safety presentations across the county, leads office tours for visitors, and helps residents set up Neighborhood Watches. She’s also part of the “Neighborhood Livability Project,” a multi-agency initiative targeting nuisance houses across Clackamas County.

“The Neighborhood Livability Project has been especially rewarding work,” says McClurg. “We devise and implement plans to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of highly problematic residential properties. Since its inception three years ago, we have 126 properties no longer considered a threat to the community, and another 24 still needing our attention.”

The rewards of CSO work can also be smaller-scale but deeply satisfying. “My favorite moment as a CSO was when I was able to reunite someone with a wallet he’d lost while hunting a year earlier,” remembers Walker. “A year later, another hunter had found it and returned it to us, dirty but intact. The $400 inside was a bit faded, but still there. It’s always a good feeling to reunite victims with recovered property.”

Want to learn more — much more — about Community Service Officers and their day-to-day work? The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office just profiled five CSOs in detail on their website and Facebook page. You can find the profiles below:

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How long have you served in your position?
19 years.

How would you describe what a Community Service Officer does for the Sheriff's Office?
The CCSO CSO helps free up deputies on the road by responding to cold crimes. And because deputies are assigned specific districts, and CSOs respond from the desk by phone in all districts, he or she may also be the first to recognize some trends, such as thefts of packages from porches or acts of criminal mischief, i.e.:  egging, graffiti. A CSO also provides vital resources to the public when it comes to civil and criminal events, such as who to talk to about housing rights, mental health issues, concerns regarding elderly persons, where to find information regarding ID Theft and scams, where to turn for help resolving neighborhood issues, or help navigating what to do when one is being stalked or experiencing domestic violence, or who to talk with at the DA’s Office when a case has been referred.

Describe a typical day for yourself as a CSO.

  • Respond to calls for service regarding cold thefts/criminal mischief/assault/sex abuse/suspicious events
  • Interview victims and witnesses, find any available evidence, research tips
  • Register sex offenders
  • Appear in court
  • Provide resource information
  • Recognize mental health issues and respond accordingly—alert BHU, calm and redirect the person, get a deputy to the residence or the lobby, whatever is appropriate             

 My day in Wilsonville is slightly different than it would be if I were at Brooks, and each CSO has his/her auxiliary duties. I can be found—

  • Managing Can You ID Me from the contributing end (photos, tips)
  • Working on transcription
  • Managing office details
  • Supporting the Lt, Sgts, and Det by attending community meetings or functions, tracking down info or details, bumping deputies/sgts/dets/Lts in/out in March and September

How much of your work is interfacing with the public? What sorts of questions are you typically answering for them?
On a weekly basis in Wilsonville, I estimate that more than half my time is actual interaction with the public. It’s by phone or walk-in, with victims, witnesses, and persons providing information (Loss Prevention, Customer Service, Fraud Departments). Sometimes this is taxing. It’s rare the person who calls or comes in to the office that’s having a great day. Most people who initiate contact with police have lost something, property, trust, someone close to them, and is in crisis to some degree. The contact we initiate is on behalf of that person, trying to track down evidence, witnesses, or useful resources.

What's a favorite moment or "win" in your work for CCSO?
When I hear or see that moment when someone moves from crisis to feeling a little bit safer. It’s the relief in their expression or in the sound of their voice--whatever it was that helped empower the person or restored their peace of mind.  

It’s important to me that people be seen and heard. That’s all anyone really wants, to matter. I can think of no place more important than when someone has been victimized. Even if all I can do is let that person know, “I’m really sorry this happened.”

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How long have you served in your position?
I have been the Crime Prevention Coordinator for nearly eleven years. Previous to that I was a desk officer for a year and a half.

How would you describe what a Community Service Officer does for the Sheriff's Office?
I have a unique role as a community service officer, as my focus is on Crime Prevention related efforts. As such I do a lot of community outreach. I share information on Neighborhood Watch, Social Media/Internet Safety, ID Theft and Scams, Personal Safety and other related topics. I also serve on several coalitions, boards and steering committees, as well as the Sheriff’s Neighborhood Livability Project. In addition, I attend many community safety events and provide tours of the Sheriff’s Office to Cub Scouts and other groups.

Describe a typical day for yourself as a CSO.
There is no typical day for me. One day is never the same as the next. On an average day I might attend a coalition meeting, a board meeting, provide a social media presentation to a school, and meet with community members in the evening to discuss reducing crime in their neighborhood. In between those tasks, I am often on the phone or responding to the many emails I receive from community members.

How much of your work is interfacing with the public? What sorts of questions are you typically answering for them?
The bulk of my day is spent interfacing with the public. I spend about half my day in the office and the other half out in the community. My meetings with the public take me from Wilsonville to Welches and all points in between.

What's a favorite moment or "win" in your work for CCSO?
I don’t know that I have a favorite ‘win’ in my time with the Sheriff’s Office, as there are a lot of them. I feel the work the Neighborhood Livability Project does for the community has been especially rewarding. The NLP is an interagency effort to identify and then devise and implement plans to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of highly problematic residential properties. Since the creation of this team three years ago, we have 126 properties no longer considered a threat to the community, and another 24 properties still needing our attention.

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How long have you served in your position?
I have been a CSO for 12 years.

How would you describe what a Community Service Officer does for the Sheriff's Office?
CSOs work in both divisions of the sheriff’s office providing service to the community and assisting deputies with their daily tasks. I have had the pleasure of working in both divisions so I will try to explain how they assist in both divisions.

Patrol CSOs take phone reports and act as the face of the department as we are the first face that they see when they come in for service and we are often the voice from the sheriff’s office they talk to when the call for service does not require immediate assistance. We assist with the search and rescue coordination and obtain information from citizens needing search and rescue assistance to help distribute resources where needed. We answer phone call from public and coworkers and are the gate keeper for the office. Our CSO’s take close to 40% of the calls for service and there are only 9 of them in the patrol division. These 9 individuals help keep deputies in the district by taking the call and following through on the preliminary investigations up and until there is enough information to contact a suspect in the case. Our patrol CSO’s also coordinate community relations with safe neighborhood presentations and neighborhood watch coordination.

CSOs in the jail assist with public lobby duties. They write arrest reports for people turning themselves in for court ordered sentences to warrants. They maintain a safe environment for citizens to come in and visit their inmates as well as coordinate attorney visiting and outside contacts with inmates and court related exams for legal proceedings. CSO’s in the jail read every piece of mail that comes in and leaves the jail for content and to make sure inmates are not contact victims or intimidating witnesses. In addition CSO’s assigned to the mail room also make sure citizens or inmates are not violating jail policy. CSO’s also will review phone contacts and monitor visiting and when violations of policy are observed write reports documenting the incidents. CSO’s in corrections are tasked with being the face of the Jail and are the gate keepers for who is allowed to come in and who is not.

Describe a typical day for yourself as a CSO.
I work in Patrol. A typical day for me starts with our dispatch software. Making sure to log in and look at the list of calls for service. There are often calls for service from the night before that need to be answered so we look at the call that has been holding the longest and start making the phone calls. We write reports and conduct investigations related to crimes being reported by the victims we contact. Our reports can be lengthy and involved when involving cases where we have suspect information. Many of our cases will be short and to the point especially if we don’t have any leads that could lead to an arrest. We will seek leads on our cases and when we have information that could lead to an arrest we obtain all the necessary information that a deputy would need to contact the suspect.

We answer phone calls from citizens and internally. We assist sergeants with shift scheduling by handling notifications to patrol deputies regarding overtime opportunities on shifts that need to be filled as well as being the point of contact for the shift bid every 6 months. We help deputies with putting together photo lineups and viewing video of criminal activity in an attempt to identify suspects. We also answer questions pertaining to criminal laws, traffic laws, parking, code enforcement, internet and phone scams.

How much of your work is interfacing with the public? What sorts of questions are you typically answering for them?
The majority of our day is interfacing with the citizens of Clackamas County. We answer questions related to Criminal Law, Traffic Law, Code Enforcement, Neighborhood Watch as well as internet and phone scams. We advise them of other resources available to them in Clackamas County such as mediation services, mental health and Housing assistance. We also registers sex offenders and process vehicle releases.

What's a favorite moment or "win" in your work for CCSO?
One of my favorite moments is when I find a suspect and have everything prepared for a deputy to go and make the arrest. I love the investigative side of being a CSO and it is these tiny victories that make this job worthwhile and fun. I had a case where a grandmother had called the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to report she was a victim of forgery and her granddaughter was responsible. She had all the checks and all the documentation to back it up all I needed was to get a photo of the person who cashed the check. When I got the photo it was indeed my victim’s granddaughter. Grandma advised me at that time that she was in the process of getting her granddaughter into treatment for her drug problem and asked me how long this would take. Knowing that it could take a few weeks to get assigned for follow up I advised her I would complete my part of the investigation and send it for follow up however I was unsure as to when it would be assigned. I did tell her that it takes some time to get assigned so she needed to make sure that she got her granddaughter into treatment. To my knowledge that did occur and when the deputy assigned went to interview her granddaughter she admitted to the crime and was subsequently taken to jail and charged for the crime after receiving treatment.

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How would you describe what a Community Service Officer does for the Sheriff's Office?

  • Investigations into crimes taken by CSO’s (doing our own follow ups).  Including: obtaining investigative subpoenas, photo throw downs, obtaining video surveillance, coordinating with outside agencies on investigations, getting suspects identified, logging evidence, etc.
  • Receive, coordinate and forward court subpoenas
  • Assist Crime Prevention (collateral duty)
  • Contacting suspects on Hit & Run report and some misdemeanor crimes.
  • Testifying in court and grand jury.
  • Take reports on VROs, domestic violence and assaults that are not in progress.
  • Responsibility for receipts from Vehicle releases and print the financial report.
  • Emptying the PRX (drug) box in the lobby and sending to property.
  • Responsible for maintaining Non-sworn fleet cars.
  • Picking up food boxes from Sunshine Division.
  • We are the first point of contact for the public who come to the Sheriff’s Office and we man two walk up windows.
  • We write reports for all of the cold property crimes that get reported through dispatch.
  • We handle calls dealing with harassment, landlord/tenant issues,  juvenile custody issues, some traffic issues, and other civil issues.
  • We register sex offenders.
  • Handle overtime call outs via Twitter.
  • Special projects as assigned by supervisors.

Describe a typical day for yourself as a CSO.
My day starts with going to shift briefing for 3rd shift.  After that I start taking calls from the desk queue.  Depending what is pending I will call the reporting party back and take a report or direct them to other actions.  I write a lot of reports.  Between calls I work on follow up reports doing investigations for my assigned cases.  I handle requests to assist deputies that include preparing photo throw downs or database researching.  My goal is to clear the desk queue by the time my shift ends at 2100.

How much of your work is interfacing with the public? What sorts of questions are you typically answering for them?
90% of my job is interfacing with the public, either by phone or in person.  Questions include: 

  • directions to other locations, 
  • How do I…..?, 
  • Can I get records, reports, etc.,
  • signing for deliveries, 
  • custody issues,
  • info about traffic laws,
  • criminal laws,
  • what resources are available for their situation,
  • code enforcement questions,
  • can I file a report?   

What's a favorite moment or "win" in your work for CCSO?
After 15 years as a CSO I have several “favorite cases”.   A recent case I was working on involve a housekeeper who stole credit card from her employer.  The cards were passed off to a man and woman who went on a multi-state spending and gambling spree in the amount of over $29,000.  I worked with 8 outside agencies and was able to eventually identify the subjects with the help of Washington State Patrol.  This case is now at the DA’s office and pending prosecution.   Identifying a bad guy is always a win.

Another favorite moment is handing out stuffed animals and blanket to kids who come into the lobby with their parents who are dealing with a difficult time in their life.  It makes my day to see the little kids smile.

How long have you served in your position?  
14 ½ years.

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How long have you served in your position?
I’ve been in my position 10 years and 5 months.

How would you describe what a Community Service Officer does for the Sheriff's Office? 

A community services officer is a non-shown uniformed officer with limited peace officer authority.  Basically, we handled criminal investigations up to the point of an arrest.

Describe a typical day for yourself as a CSO.  
A typical day of a CSO consists of assisting the public with whatever they need for the day.  That could involving taking a crime report, providing victims with resources, registering sexual offenders, assisting with vehicle releases, or simply being a listening ear.

How much of your work is interfacing with the public? What sorts of questions are you typically answering for them?
100% of our work interfacing is dealing with the public.  We are the first line of contact with the public as they entered the Sheriff’s Office.   We are asked simple questions like where’s is the restroom to more complex questions about domestic violence and personal safety.

What's a favorite moment or "win" in your work for CCSO?
My favorite moment as a CSO was when I was able to reunite a customer with his lost wallet and over $400 in cash.  He had lost his wallet while hunting and a year later, another hunter found it and turned it in… Dirty but intact.  The $400 was a bit faded but still there.   It’s always a good feeling to reunite victims with their recovered property.

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