When Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter was shot in the line of duty in 2011, various law enforcement agencies from Oregon and Washington responded to assist.
Afterwards, however, questions arose surrounding the extent of their authority once they crossed state lines.
Following the incident, sheriffs from five surrounding counties met to draft a mutual aid agreement. On July 22, 2019, sheriffs representing those counties, the majority of them elected since 2011, reconvened at the Wahiakum County Courthouse to renew and sign the agreement.
“Only one sitting sheriff, Sheriff Bergin from Clatsop County, remained from the original signers,” Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley said. “The sheriffs involved collectively believed this was something that should be renewed for the newly elected sheriffs.”
According to Pixley, the agreement continues the long-standing tradition of cooperation between their jurisdictions, and their commitment to providing emergency aid assistance.
The five local sheriffs who signed included Pixley, Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, Cowlitz County Sheriff Brad Thurman, Pacific County Sheriff Robin Souvenir, and Wahiakum County Sheriff Mark Howie. The meeting marked the first time the agreement had been addressed since it was established in 2011.
The agreement allows responding agencies the authority necessary to respond to emergencies in these neighboring counties but does not apply to routine policing activities.
“Mutual aid agreements such as this one encourage collaboration and provide agencies from different states the ability to render necessary aid in emergency situations,” Pixley said. “It is my pleasure to renew this agreement and pledge the assistance of Columbia County.”