About The WCPOA
What is the Washington County Police Officers Association?
The Washington County Police Officers Association, or WCPOA, is the public safety labor association representing non-supervisory employees at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Who do you represent, specifically?
Members of our Association include Civil Deputies, Deputies (Patrol and Jail), Corporals (Patrol and Jail), Detectives, Forensic Technicians, Forensic Analysts and Evidence Officers employed at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Our current membership hovers around the 350 mark. We do not represent first line supervisors (Sergeants) and above.
What do you do?
Public safety unions exist for the purpose of facilitating a smooth operation of a vital part of government. Public safety officers are forbidden by law from striking or otherwise not working, which we can all agree is a very, very good thing! It is also difficult for a police officer to “just change departments” due to the way seniority, promotions and assignments are structured. Because public safety officers would otherwise have no recourse against rogue employers (we all have had bad, vindictive or unfair managers) the legislature established a set of statutes allowing public safety officers in Oregon to engage in collective bargaining with their employers. What this means is that we have a statutory responsibility to protect the rights of those who protect society. We are responsible for bargaining wages, benefits, working conditions and safety conditions of our members. We are also tasked with representing and defending members accused of wrongdoing.
Along with all that, we love to give back to our community! We engage in thousands of dollars worth of charitable giving campaigns every year and our members donate countless off-duty hours to local youth organizations, charities and other worthy causes. It can’t all be business!
So you defend guilty cops and get their jobs back?
No. But we are glad you asked. We represent and defend members as they are being accused of wrongdoing and ensure that investigations are done fairly and evenly across the board. How many of you can think of a time you worked someplace where a manager was horribly unfair and disciplined or fired someone for seemingly “no reason”? Well, that can happen in law enforcement as well. Plus, there are hundreds of things that can get a public safety officer in trouble and not all of them are “career enders”. Public safety officers are held to a much higher standard of conduct, both on duty and off duty, than people in many other professions. That is for good reason! They are tasked with a difficult and dangerous job that carries with it a ton of responsibility and power. They are also human beings who make mistakes, have bad days, get depressed, and forget themselves for a minute along with other normal human things. We stand to make sure that the discipline fits the infraction. And the bottom line is if one of our members commits an intentional criminal act, there isn’t much we can do for them, nor would we really want to. We are proud of our profession and want it to be as untarnished as it can be. Members who act out to “tarnish the badge” embarrass all of us and make us just as mad as they make you. I’d say maybe even a little angrier.
We bargain wages and benefits to make sure our members can afford to live in the communities they police and to keep salaries and benefits commensurate with cost of living. Nobody wants their police officers to be an “occupying force”… a group of people who live 60 miles away and commute to work in communities they have no connection to. We have seen that happen in other places in the United States and it is NOT good. With a huge number of us living right here in Washington County, we are members of the same parent organizations and youth sports leagues that you are. We work to see our community remain one of the best places to live.
We have all seen and felt the pinch of widening income gaps and watched health insurance companies post record profits while raising premiums under claims of “cost”. It is just a big mess out there and we feel for everyone dealing with it without representation. We know most of you are in that boat. In a perfect world, employers everywhere would treat their employees fairly and pay them living wages. We have all seen that is not the case and in public safety, we organize to negotiate with employers on behalf of our members for a fair wage, fair benefits and fair treatment. We chose a career in public service and strive to provide the first responder service you expect under the safest conditions possible. We also want to attract smart, talented people to the profession and comparable pay and benefits is the best way to do that.
We welcome questions! Please contact us if you would like to know more.