Deputies vote no confidence in sheriff — again

PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County deputies have made Sheriff Steve Boyer the subject of a vote of no confidence, maintaining the office is plagued by issues of poor communication and mismanagement.

Boyer, however, said his door is always open and he is available to address any issue his deputies desire. He said the deputies have trouble communicating their needs and concerns, and on several occasions have not requested the equipment they have complained about not having.

“We’ve had a departmental suggestion box out there, and no one’s put anything in it for years,” Boyer said.

While the deputies sent their 800-word statement to local media outlets on Wednesday, they did not send it to Boyer directly. He saw it for the first time on Thursday when shown a copy by a reporter.

After reading the statement twice, Boyer called it “thinly disguised politics, because the deputies want to elect one of their own as sheriff.”

Boyer is facing a challenge from Deputy Jim Rye in the September primary. If no Republican candidates declare for the position, the primary winner will become sheriff by default.

“This is not a mom-and-pop operation,” Boyer said. “It’s a complex organization with a $27 million yearly budget. And the deputies have twisted the facts.”

The guild’s complaints include:

• In his negotiations with the deputies, Boyer has “violated labor law and has failed to develop a sick leave tracking program.” Boyer also allegedly failed to bargain in good faith and interfered with employee rights. 

• Staffing levels are down, resulting in slow response times. Staffing issues have caused the precinct office in Kingston to be closed several days a week along with support operations in Port Orchard. 

• There are 7,000 active warrants that have not been addressed.

• There are several personnel-related issues, with disciplinary matters not handled fairly or in a timely fashion. 

• Deputies do not think Boyer is doing a capable job, with 93 percent of the deputies committed to supporting his opponent in the upcoming election. Eighty-seven percent of the deputies recently voted “no confidence” in him and his staff for the second time in his two terms.

Other employees of the Sheriff’s Office, as well as those of outside agencies, are also offering their support to his opponent, according to the deputies.

Boyer takes issue with each of the deputies’ points, repeating that they are politically motivated. As for the staffing issue, he said, “If they think we needed more people, they should have supported the law and justice levy last year. If that had passed, we would have been able to hire 16 more deputies.”

Throughout these disagreements, Boyer said he respects his deputies and their professionalism. He said he wanted to address the issues, and said there will be no repercussions should he win re-election.

“It’s important that the deputies take responsibility for their actions,” Boyer said. “They are a good group, and I have high expectations for them. Sometimes they need a little guidance.”

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