ATV and Snow Patrol
Within Umatilla County, there are hundreds of miles of established trails and roads for off road vehicle, such as ATVs, motorcycles, four wheel drive vehicles, and snow mobiles. Several large OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) areas are located in the Blue Mountains. These areas draw many outdoor enthusiasts and recreational activities every year.
With that use, there can be issues related to careless operation and accidents, some are serious in nature and the fact that many incidents occur in areas accessible only by four wheel drive vehicles or other specialized equipment.
Three seasonal deputies patrol these areas, looking for safety, registration and operation violations, and generally promoting safe and sane use of these areas. They also educate where needed, ensuring that operators are in compliance with Oregon state law. Funding for the OHV program comes from an annual contract with Oregon State Parks. This funding helps provide personnel and equipment for the local program.
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s ATV and Snow Patrols became part of the Sheriff’s Office in 1987. Their mission is to maintain the safety and the security of the inter-trail systems thereby allowing all trail users to have an enjoyable outdoor experience in and around the Umatilla County area. The Snow Patrol Division is currently supervised by the Reserve Patrol Division with the assistance of a hand full of special deputies. All man hours are voluntary. This division is primarily funded through grants obtained from the Oregon State Snowmobile Association and local snowmobile clubs.
The Sheriff’s Marine Unit patrols the waterways and shore lines at the major bodies of water in Umatilla County, including approximately 195 miles of shore line on the Columbia River, both above and below the McNary Dam, and at the McKay Reservoir and Dam, located south of Pendleton. The Marine Unit consists of three dedicated deputies who have over 50 years of combined experience, and who work on a seasonal basis. They enforce Oregon boating laws, such as Boating Under the Influence (BUI), speeding complaints, careless operation and boating in restricted areas, and water-related accidents. They assist the public by conducting search and rescue operations and helping lost or stranded boaters. Each season, the deputies conduct hundreds of boating safety inspections, offer boating safety classes year round to the general public, and also teach water safety classes for K-6th grade students, Boy Scouts and religious and civic groups when requested.
The Sheriff’s Office believes that education is a key factor in our efforts to keep the waterways safe and enjoyable, and to maintain a family-oriented environment for all who live here, and those who visit Umatilla County and the surrounding area. The program is primarily funded with grants from our partners at the Oregon State Marine Board.
Rural Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention
The Rural Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention Program began operations in January 2006. It is staffed by two volunteer deputies who are presently coordinating thirteen major Rural Neighborhood Watch Units, consisting of nearly four hundred citizen members and applicants located in Western and Northern Umatilla County, and some residents of Morrow County who have land interests in Umatilla County.
The Rural Neighborhood Watch Program is affiliated with the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Sheriffs’ Association, empowering citizens to take an active role in homeland security and crime prevention at the local level. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, "Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country, bringing citizens together with law enforcement to deter crime and make communities safer.”
The Rural Crime Prevention Program organizes and brings together rural county farmers, ranchers and residents to provide tools and education in crime prevention and reporting, in areas of limited law enforcement services. While it provides assistance and support to Rural Neighborhood Watch Units, its mission is to assist and prepare citizens in creating and operating their own Rural Neighborhood Watch programs within their own areas. Rural Neighborhood Watch members are trained to be alert and aware of their surroundings, as well as identifying and reporting suspicious persons and activities in their unit to law enforcement agencies for further investigation and enforcement if necessary. The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office and the Rural Neighborhood Watch Program are committed to keeping citizens and property as safe and secure as possible.
The Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office consists of three full-time sworn deputies that are assigned and specially trained as detectives, and a non-sworn Evidence Technician. Two members of this division are assigned as General Law Detectives, who investigate all types of person and property crimes. The third detective is assigned on a full time basis to the Blue Mountain Narcotics Team and investigates drug related crimes. All of our detectives are members of the Umatilla/Morrow Major Crimes Team. Typically, cases that are assigned to the Investigations Division are those that require particular expertise, or may require extensive or lengthy follow up, thus freeing patrol deputies for other duties.
Blue Mountain Narcotics Team (BENT)
A regional drug task force that is comprised of detectives from several police agencies including, the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Hermiston Police Department, Pendleton Police Department, Milton-Freewater Police Department, and the Umatilla Tribal Police Department. The detectives assigned to this unit specialize in narcotics related crimes and activities, and are also available to work on major crimes investigations. UCSO has been, and continues to be committed to the BENT team, in personnel and resources, since the team’s inception over 25 years ago.
The person in this full time position collects, documents, securely stores and maintains custody of all evidentiary materials. At crime scenes, the evidence technician assist by gathering and securing evidence and also documents its relationship to the scene, which allows officers more time to concentrate on other aspects of the investigation. In the evidence room, they prepare evidence for secure storage and/or transportation to forensic testing laboratories, and to the courts for presentation at trials. The evidence technician also maintains secure custody of lost and found property. Items that are either considered lost and found property or evidence, which has been cleared by the courts may be released to the legal and rightful owners.