KELSO, Wash. - Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon law agencies are going to be good neighbors - officially.
A new mutual-aid agreement covers Cowlitz, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties in Washington and Columbia and Clatsop counties in Oregon. It allows deputies from any county to enforce laws on either side of the river until a local officer can get to the scene.
The sheriffs saw a need for the agreement after the shooting last year of Scott Johnson, a Washington State Patrol trooper in Long Beach, Wash., and the fatal shooting in January of the Rainier police chief, Ralph Painter.
The move was spearheaded by Cowlitz County (Wash.) Sheriff Mark Nelson and Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson.
They contacted Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, Wahkiakum County (Wash.) Sheriff Jon Dearmore, and Johnson, who has since been elected as Pacific County Sheriff, to schedule a meeting.
The group met for the first time in Clatskanie and in little over an hour the five leaders had penned an agreement for their respective legal advisers to review.
The agreement allows those county deputies from the agencies in Oregon and Washington to enforce laws on either side of the river, until a local officer can get there; at which time the case would be turned over to local authorities. They also agreed that responding agencies would absorb the costs as appropriate.
The document was also written to allow cities within the counties to join in with the agreement.