New deputy joins Sisters patrol
Last updated 12/12/2023 at 9:28am
Deputy Jerad Bearson is on patrol in the town where he lives, having joined the contingent of Deschutes County Sheriff's Office (DCSO) deputies assigned under contract to the City of Sisters.
While Deputy Bearson is a relatively new face in Sisters, he's a law enforcement veteran with considerable depth of experience. He came to DCSO from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in September 2021. He has previously served in the Sisters area as the west county deputy.
"I opted to work west because I live out here," he said. "I fell in love with coming out here. I already was kind of a de facto Sisters guy."
When an opening became available with the City of Sisters contingent, he jumped at the opportunity.
"The hours are better - more time with my kids," he said. "I love working with the lieutenant (Chad Davis) and the team."
The work itself is more gratifying than police work in the area he left behind. Like many law enforcement officers, Bearson found the work less and less respected and less and less rewarding post-2020.
In 2020, during the throes of COVID-19, downtown Portland was convulsed in the nationwide turmoil that followed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The climate became very hostile to law enforcement - and the city began to unravel under months of unrest.
"Our riot team was downtown for half a year, it seemed," Bearson recalled. "The whole downtown area during those months was a disaster."
The atmosphere was downright threatening any time Bearson had to go downtown.
"It wasn't a good place to raise our kids," he concluded.
Deschutes County - and Sisters in particular - has a very different attitude toward law enforcement.
"It's night and day from Multnomah County to Deschutes County," Bearson said. "The citizens are very friendly. They wave with all five fingers."
While there are advantages to living and working in the same community, it can also pose challenges when you're a law enforcement officer. You're bound to come into contact with people off-duty with whom you've had contact on the job - good or bad.
"That's why it's important to treat everyone with respect, and the way you want to be treated," Bearson said.
The deputy has never contemplated another line of work. He's wanted to be doing this work ever since he was a kid.
"I just knew from day one that I wanted to be a police officer," he said.
Bearson's work in a major metropolitan area, including two years working in downtown Portland, has given him exposure to the full range of law enforcement actions and experiences. That serves him well in working in the lower-intensity environment of Deschutes County.
While the climate here is different, and the tempo is slower, this area deals with the same kinds of issues found in other parts of the state. Bearson said it is gratifying that deputies have the time to really work with people and solve problems, instead of just running from call to call, trying to keep up.
"Here, I can facilitate things," he said.
Bearson worked amid the state's largest homeless population, and he brings that background and experience to engaging with Sisters' comparatively small, but not insignificant, homeless population.
"Right now, as it sits, the homeless population is manageable," he said. His advantage is "kind of knowing what works and what doesn't" in engaging with the varied population. Some folks living in the forest want help, and some don't, and it helps to be able to distinguish how best to approach any issue that comes up.
Outside of work, Bearson enjoys hunting and fishing.
"My kids keep me pretty busy too," he said.
As he patrols the streets of Sisters, Bearson can reflect on having made the right move leaving Multnomah County to come here.
"I just feel very blessed with how people are," he said.