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Top Lawman

Wolfe wins 'Sheriff of the Year' honors

POLK COUNTY -- Polk County's sheriff takes public service literally.

Bob Wolfe was named Sheriff of the Year by the Oregon State Sheriff's Association in a Dec. 5 Portland ceremony.

"The main thing is getting trust from the community, taking pride in the organization, treating people with dignity and respect -- treating them as a family," Wolfe said.

"In doing all of that, I get recognized."

Wolfe is the first Polk sheriff to win the award. He shares it this year with Linn County Sheriff Dave Burright.

In serving on a number of committees, Wolfe strives to make law enforcement more professional. He's on the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training board along with OSSA corrections, legislative and civil committees.

Wolfe credits his staff for much of his successes. Sheriff's Office employees have won awards for marine patrol, emergency management and corrections.

"The acknowledgment that we receive in other areas of the sheriff's office speaks a great deal for the people we have here," Wolfe said.

The Polk County Jail also meets high national standards, he said. A recent jail inspection resulted in a near-perfect score.

Wolfe wants to bring the whole office to the highest standards, seeking recognition from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement agencies.

Doing so requires a rewrite of all policies and procedures. "It creates a more accountable organization and reduces liability for law insurance agencies," Wolfe said.

Polk County is currently in the lead among Oregon counties. "We should be the first in the state, and that's my goal."

Polk County commissioners and sheriff's staff nominated Wolfe for the award, taking him by surprise.

"I'm extremely humbled by it," he said. "I'm very proud of the staff for all the hard work they did to get the recognition for their sheriff."

Wolfe calls his office a "reverse pyramid, with the boss at the bottom."

Winning the award recognizes the whole structure. "I couldn't do that on my own -- I had to do it with the support of my staff.

And it goes both ways. "I work hard to support my staff."

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