There has been a lot of controversy lately surrounding White Salmon Mayor Roger Holen and actions he took regarding the police chief of the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department. The controversy has led to a recall campaign against the mayor.
This recall process will take its course, and in the end, the voters of the city of White Salmon will determine whether the mayor will continue in office. That's one of the glories of our political system, as the action takes place relatively peacefully, at the ballot box, rather than with fistfights (or worse) in the streets.
Yet there is another issue involved here. It appears that our Bingen-White Salmon Police Department is being unfairly tarnished by the fallout from the police chief controversy going on in White Salmon.
One thing needs to be made very clear: The seven men who are now serving in our local Police Department are all dedicated, well-trained, and professional in their approach. Their continual service on our behalf is vital to our community, and it's completely wrong and unfair that our police force is being reflected in a bad light.
Although we live in a relatively quiet town, these officers -- who combined have more than 50 years of law enforcement experience -- are serving in harm's way. There is never any way a police officer can know when a "routine" traffic stop can turn into something potentially deadly. Yet every day and night they are out there, patrolling our streets and neighborhoods, helping at accident scenes, offering assistance to citizens on an unending variety of calls, watching to keep pedestrians safe in crosswalks and to prevent motorists from speeding through school zones. The list goes on and on.
The bottom line: These men are serving all of us in a professional manner, and they deserve our support and appreciation. When political issues way outside their control threaten to undermine the morale of our police officers or distract them from their duties, that's wrong. These officers are not responsible for what is going on with the police chief's position. They have no say in that process. They are simply trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and they deserve to be left out of the crossfire from this ongoing political intrigue.
As far as we're concerned, all the members of the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department are heroes for the work they do every day. It will be our community's loss if any of them get fed up with the political strife and move to other agencies.
Here are the names of the men serving with the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department: Jim Andring, Mike Belvin, Bruce Brending, Garique Clifford, Ben Harvey, Gary Manning, and Dwayne Matulovich. When you see them, let them know they are appreciated.