8 Sheriff Career Interviews

Criminal Justice Degree Schools interviewed 8 Northwest Sheriffs to learn their advice for aspiring police officers and their observations of the changing landscape of the law enforcement profession. They also share their thoughts about the importance of a criminal justice degree in having a successful career in law enforcement.

1. Sheriff Gary Raney of Ada County in Idaho

2. Sheriff Glenn Palmer of Rural Grant County in Oregon

3. Sheriff Steve Boyer of Kitsap County in Washington

4. Sheriff Rick Grimstead of Skagit County in Washington

5. Sheriff Bill Elfo of Whatcom County in Washington

6. Sheriff Dave Brown of Skamania County in Washington

7. Sheriff Frank Rogers of Okanogan County in Washington

8. Sheriff Mark Nelson of Cowlitz County in Washington


Criminal Justice Thought-Leader, Professor and Veteran Sheriff Gary Raney Discusses The State of Law Enforcement

Sheriff Gary RaneySheriff Raney joined the Ada County Sheriff's Office in 1983 and rose through the ranks until he was elected Sheriff in 2004. His agency is recognized locally and nationally for its best practices in planning and organizational leadership, and often hosts leaders from visiting agencies who look to Sheriff Raney's team for advice. Ada County is the most populated county in Idaho. His department has more than 600 employees and a 1,217-bed jail. Sheriff Raney is an adjunct professor for Boise State University and Northwestern University's Center for Public Safety, a guest speaker and trainer-consultant.

Why and how did you get into law enforcement and become a Sheriff?

By the time I was 14 I knew I wanted to be involved in the community, but I lived on a farm, so participating in traditional activities like organized sports wasn't easy. I was at an event one day and saw some kids wearing police uniforms as part of an Explorer Program. That planted a seed. Three weeks later, I joined a new Explorer Program in our community. I trace my interest in law enforcement directly to that. I then went to Boise State University where I studied Criminal Justice. While in college, I networked with local law enforcement officers and also served as a Reserve at a small department when I was 19. I found that the approach at the Sheriff's Office suited me best with its focus on service. At 21, I was able to apply to be a full-time deputy and got my first job working in the Ada County Jail as a detention deputy. Later I worked in patrol and as a detective. I solved a case that ended with a conviction for the only woman on death row in Idaho. (more…)

Rural Grant County Oregon Sheriff Glenn Palmer Interview

On November 2nd, Criminal Justice Degree Schools interviewed Sheriff Glenn Palmer on His Career, Issues Facing Grant County and Career Advice. Sheriff Palmer is a third-term Sheriff in rural Grant County Oregon. Like other rural counties dependent on timber and tourism, it faces challenges that impact how the Sheriff Department pursues its mission.

Why and how did you get into law enforcement and become a Sheriff?

My Mother was a 911 dispatcher for 20+ years and so I had exposure to law enforcement. I was in the Air Force from 1980-1984. Just after returning, I had 3 or 4 part time jobs including in the timber industry until a group of us was laid off due to being snowed out for the season. As I was in job search mode, I happened to poke my head in the Sheriff's office to ask about a job. On the spot, I was asked if I could work that night in the jail and I did after receiving some basic instructions. So, it was a fluke of sorts, but the next day I was sworn in as a Correction Deputy and a reserve patrolman in the city of John Day Oregon. I will say that night was not great as I had never been in a jail before. But over the next 15 years I went from part-time corrections officer, to Deputy Patrol, to Senior Patrolman and finally to sheriff. (more…)

Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer Interview

On October 18th, Criminal Justice Degree Schools interviewed retired Washington State Trooper and current Kitsap Sheriff Steve Boyer on his views on law enforcement. He provides his insights as someone with a strong view on what needs to change for local law enforcement agencies to effectively deliver on their missions. He also suggests some great resources for coping with stress as well as thought leaders on the direction of law enforcement.

Kitsap County Sheriff BoyerYou have been Kitsap County Sheriff since 1998. Your career has spanned being a State Trooper for 27 years and then as Sheriff for the last 12. How did you get started in law enforcement and how did your law enforcement career progress?

From age 15-21, I worked at a gas station in Bellevue, Washington near I-90. There I got to know some of the state troopers as they stopped by the station. I was also stopped by Highway Patrol in my '67 Fastback a couple times, but the experience with them was always positive. It seemed an honorable profession to me at an otherwise turbulent time. I joined in the early 70's and progressed over time to Lieutenant. I was promoted to Captain but then reconsidered the promotion, as I didn't want to move. I had a long career at 27 years and started considering other options. I was thinking of running for Sheriff and some people suggested I should. There were a lot of issues at the time and I felt it would be a good challenge. I was elected in 1998 and have been Sheriff of Kitsap County since. (more…)

Interview with Skagit County Sheriff Rick Grimstead: 36-year Veteran State Trooper and Sheriff Provides Career Overview and Tips on How to Become a Successful Law Enforcement Officer

Sheriff Rick GrimsteadYou have been Skagit County Sheriff since 2003.  How did your career path lead to law enforcement and how has your career evolved?

My father was in law enforcement where he retired as Captain in the Washington State Patrol and so I was exposed to law enforcement growing up. I attended and graduated from Washington State University in 1967 with a degree in History and Physical Education with the intention to become a teacher. But then I went into active military service in Vietnam where I flew the CH-46 helicopter on 600+ combat missions. I was shot down several times but fortunately never injured. I spent six years in the Marines as a pilot and then remained in the reserves thereafter until I retired as Lt. Colonel. After my active military stint, I returned to Washington, but then considered a career in law enforcement. I both applied to the FBI and also became a cadet in the Washington State Troopers in 1973. (more…)

Interview with Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo: The Value of a Criminal Justice Degree in Law Enforcement, Law Enforcement Career Tips and the Challenges of Managing a Border County

How long have you been a Sheriff?

I have been Sheriff since January 2003.

How did you get into law enforcement and how did your career evolve?

My interest in law enforcement was first sparked when I became a member of a Police Explorer post at age 16. I joined the Florida Department full-time when I turned 19 and was the youngest officer ever hired by the agency. I worked my way through the ranks and retired as a Captain/City Prosecutor to accept the position as Director of Public Safety/Police Chief in 1996. I remained in Blaine until assuming the position of Whatcom County Sheriff in 2003. (more…)

Interview with Skamania Sheriff Dave Brown: How a Criminal Justice Degree Can Help Your Law Enforcement Career and Other Important Law Enforcement Job Tips

How long have you been a Sheriff in Skamania County?

I have been Sheriff for 8 years.

How did you get into law enforcement and how did your career evolve?

I started volunteering with the fire department in 1979 as a teenager. After the eruption of Mt St Helens (which is in Skamania County) there was big effort to do salvage logging in the blast zone. This supported EMS services with fees from that effort due to expected logging accidents. So, from 1982-1987, I was an EMT in this location. At that time, there were five deputies working the red zone. In working with them, I became interested in their job. Eventually, I went to Clark community college and then Washington State University and studied Criminal Justice. I eventually finished my degree while working. In 1987 I started as Deputy Sheriff in Skamania and served as a patrol deputy for nine years. In 1996, I moved to the detective unit until 1998. Then I was promoted to Chief Criminal Deputy – supervising patrol and detectives. I served in that capacity until 2003 when I was elected Sheriff of Skamania County. All tolled, I have been with the Skamania County Sheriff's office for 23 years. (more…)

Interview with Veteran Sheriff Frank Rogers: Insights and Advice on a Law Enforcement Career

On September 28th, 2010, Criminal Justice Degree Schools interviewed Okanogan County’s Sheriff Frank Rogers on his successful law enforcement career that spans over 25 years as a Sheriff, Sergeant, Investigator and Patrol Officer.  The goal in this interview series is to get expert input for CJDS readers who are considering a Sheriff’s Deputy or Police Officer career to help answer if and how to become a law enforcement officer.

Sheriff Frank RogersCriminal Justice Degree Schools:

How long have you been a Sheriff in Okanogan County and how did you get to your current role?

Sheriff Rogers:

I have been in law enforcement for almost 27 years and I have been Sheriff of Okanogan County for almost 8 years.

Criminal Justice Degree Schools:

How did you get into law enforcement and how did your career evolve?  

Sheriff Rogers:
When I was growing up I always wanted to be a cop and in 1984 I got my start. I started my career with the City of Okanogan as a patrol officer and in 1986 I transferred over to the City of Omak where I worked for 17 years, 15 of those years I was a Sergeant for the Police Department. (more…)

Police Sheriff Interview: Sheriff Mark Nelson Shares Advice on How to Become A Sheriff’s Deputy and Challenges and Changes in the Profession

On August 23rd, Criminal Justice Degree Schools interviewed Sheriff Mark Nelson of Cowlitz County, Washington to learn first hand about a law enforcement career and what it is like to be the elected Sheriff and head of Sheriff's Office. This is the first of a series of such interviews, as we believe that those looking for a career as a sheriff's deputy or police officer career will learn from those making hiring decisions. Topics covered include the value of a post-secondary or criminal justice degree and tips to improve your odds of getting hired. (more…)

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