Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan is running unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election.
Rowan is seeking a third term as sheriff, a position he’s held since first being elected in 2012. In 2016, he defeated challenger Ryan Lenhert.
Rowan’s experience in law enforcement is vast and diverse. He has 23 years of law enforcement experience — all in Umatilla County, with service as a dispatcher/control room operator, corrections officer, transport officer, civil deputy, criminal patrol deputy and criminal investigator. Rowan also worked with the Hermiston Police Department as a police officer, detective and agency leader.
Rowan also served as the undersheriff for the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s an impressive resume, for sure, and overall, we feel the sheriff has done a fine job in office, but there are some areas that could be improved.
We hope in his next term that his office is more transparent and more communicative. Case in point, when a man was killed in an apparent road rage incident outside Hermiston on June 20 it took three days before the sheriff’s office released any information or even acknowledged there was a shooting. By the time the sheriff’s office released an initial statement that there had been a shooting, they had already worked with other law enforcement agencies to locate and arrest a suspect — a central detail they failed to tell the public for almost three weeks.
In this era of social media, rumors fly and it is important for the sheriff’s office to be controlling the narrative — and you need to do that through reliable media outlets.
We also have heard rumblings of growing issues out of the sheriff’s office, dispatch center and county jail that include staff resigning for ethical concerns and an unhealthy work environment due to a lack of accountability and transparency from the office’s leadership.
It’s important to note, again, that at this point they are simply “rumblings” and nothing concrete. However, if they prove to be true, these are concerning issues and deserve immediate — and transparent — attention from Rowan and the county commissioners.
The sheriff’s office needs to always be a work in progress. Its leader needs to be striving to improve. Rowan has the leadership experience that gives him a chance to deliver, and we hope if — as is likely — he serves another term as sheriff that he takes these criticisms seriously and works to improve his department.