News-Register file photo
News-Register file photo

Sheriff Tim Svenson: Moving the office forward

The duties of the office of sheriff are far-reaching—from overseeing patrols and investigations throughout the county to managing the jail, as well as implementing a range of civil responsibilities. As sheriff, I take each and every one of these responsibilities extremely seriously. Ultimately, I am accountable for everything that happens on my watch.

The two deaths that occurred in the Yamhill County Jail will forever be a source of deep concern and regret for me. There is nothing I can say that will recover lives lost or make right the actions that contributed to these tragedies.

As your sheriff, I owe this county no less than to stand before its citizens and take full responsibility for the events that occurred on those terrible days.

I am further responsible for taking steps designed to correct the actions and omissions I determine to have contributed to these and any other negative outcomes within my jail and in any other area of my responsibility. I appreciate that the editorial staff of the News-Register has given me this opportunity to share my thinking and my plans going forward. In so doing I assure the citizens of Yamhill County that I make no excuses; I hear their concerns and I am committed to addressing all issues unflinchingly. The buck, as they say, stops here.

First, I would report I demoted each of the sergeants on duty at the time of the incidents leading to the two separate deaths that have been reported. I initiated a thorough review of jail procedures and policies with a critical eye to identifying areas for improvement that will ensure greater inmate safety. I secured funding from the commissioners to improve the jail medical coverage and ensure 24/7 availability of medical consultation to guide staff in addressing the range of inmates’ health concerns.

I implemented procedural improvements designed to assist jail personnel with triaging inmates both for physical and mental health issues. I am continuing to work on a plan to restructure my command staff is designed to assure that I assign commanders to areas that support their strengths, expand their knowledge base and motivate their best performance.

I am in the process of initiating a thorough outside review of all jail operations. Upon completion, I will make the recommendations from this review available to all citizens. My goal here, of course, is to identify areas for improvement, to adopt best practices in all aspects of jail operation and to assure our citizens that these facilities are being operated with the highest degree of professionalism.

Transparency and citizen input into all areas of the operations of the sheriff’s office is a priority for me. To that end, I am in the process of developing a Citizens’ Advisory Board. I will call upon citizens representing all regions of the county and all personal and professional backgrounds. I will seek their counsel and will encourage the board to advise on matters of concern.

I continue to view the opportunity to serve as Yamhill County sheriff as the highest privilege of my professional life. I cannot predict what issues may arise in the future. I can only promise the citizens of Yamhill County that I will stand up and own up when mistakes are made. I will identify needed improvements and demand the highest levels of professionalism from all those under my command and from me. I will listen to citizens and respond openly, swiftly and professionally to their concerns.

Guest Writer

Guest writer Tim Svenson is serving his first term as Yamhill County Sheriff.



I appreciate this editorial from the Sheriff. I think he is a good man and that he deserves a chance to make the improvements he mentions here.
What just irks me to no end is the double standard in our society. Two guys recklessly race their cars out past the steel mill and as a result of their recklessness and negligence two human lives are lost. The result? They are locked in a cage for several years. Fair enough. We value human life so strongly that even though they didn't intend to kill anyone their still has to be consequences.
Now at the jail...jail personnel are reckless and negligent (watch teh video if you can stomach it) and two human lives are lost as a result. The consequences? Instead of getting locked up in a cage for several years like the street racers, they get a demotion. How is that fair and just? Are some humans superior to others? Are some human lives more important than others?


The person whose name appears at the top of the letterhead for any organization technically can't pass the buck. Even if not physically present, theoretically he still is held accountable for the mistakes of his subordinates. And yet, there are simple, silly errors but then there exists outrageous malfeasance. In both Yamhill County Jail cases, the suffering inmate deteriorating for hours and the tragic suicide ultimately achieving success, demotion of those responsible remains unacceptable.

Horse with no name

Demotions, what B.S. Anyone else on any other job would be fired at least with criminal and civil charges to follow. That jail has been run professionally in the past and it should have been running that way under the current sheriff. If the sheriff had any professional honor he should tender his resignation, the rest is just talk.


You've demoted both sergeants on duty those nights? What an absolute crock! Two totally needless and wholly preventable deaths, one watched live for six hours by all on duty that night and you've made two demotions. Wow! Everyone working those two nights, including you, should be gone. You haven't done a damn thing in view of how egregious these situations were. Totally unacceptable!
Rest assured if you have the unmitigated gall to run again there are many of us already working to see that doesn't happen. You have proven yourself exceedingly unworthy and undeserving of this position.


Let's not forget the commissioners and county administration in this deal. They tour the jail, review the policies and procedures, and pronounce the jail safe. This is a statutory requirement. Obviously the jail is not safe and the policies and procedures are not adequate. Haven't heard from them have we? Oh that's right, they're hiding from the press these days.

Horse with no name

Maybe Sheriff Tim is taking his cues from Trump who has set the gold standard for law enforcement as Joe Arpaio. Maybe the Commissioners are responding to that same dog whistle. To heck with law and human decency, it's all about who's yer buddy.


Benny......if I'm recalling correctly(not guaranteed at my age), I believe I read a story in the NR recently that mentioned a gentleman going before the commission and asking what's going to be done. He got nowhere.


Joel2828 - you make a very good point. Imo, those on duty that night and the sheriff should resign. The callous indifference toward the two people who lost their lives cannot be overlooked. Any human being with an ounce of compassion for their fellow man would have acted...regardless of the rules or procedures in place. It's a matter of right and wrong and these folks were not only wrong, but cold and unfeeling. Their lack of action caused two people to die needlessly. They have no place in a jail where the test of character and conscience is called upon almost everyday.


Will the sheriff's department actually hold itself to the standard they have set forth in their mission statement?

From the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office Web Page:

Mission Statement
It is the Mission of the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office to provide our citizens with high quality law enforcement services, in an ethical and fiscally responsible manner.

To this end we will provide the highest quality of law enforcement services and will hold ourselves accountable to community and national professional standards. We recognize that our most valuable resource is our people and will strive to create a positive working atmosphere where creativity and participation abound. We will serve the people of this community striving for excellence in all that we do. We will not settle for mediocrity or second best. We are one of Oregon's Finest.


Furthermore, how were the two prehistoric assailants simply allowed to stroll into his cell for some wall-to-wall counseling? What's going on in the Yamhill County Jail? It sounds like cocktail hour on a Carnival cruise.


If the sheriff won't do the right thing and resign I guess we will have to terminate his employment at the ballot box.


With today's announcement we can now commence undertaking the termination process. I'll be doing whatever is asked of me in terms of assisting his opponent.

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