When much-loved Sheriff Diana Simpson retired this summer, her under-sheriff Scott Jackson took the reins and vowed to continue to provide citizens of Benton County with law enforcement dedicated to the safety and protection of our community. However, Sheriff Jackson also has big ideas about what the sheriff’s office should be in Benton County in the future.
“Our focus in the coming year: To keep our community safe, to continue to work collaboratively with our community and public safety partners, to continue effort aimed at replacing Benton County’s seriously inadequate jail, to be fiscally responsible, operationally transparent, and responsive to community needs,” Jackson said.
Sheriff Jackson came to Corvallis in an interesting way. When he returned from serving in the Army overseas, he settled back home in Arizona and got a job working with the Department of Corrections— something he didn’t think would be long term. However, after four years of working with the prison systems in Arizona, he was traveling through Oregon in the winter of 1995 and a snowstorm stranded him here in Corvallis.
“I pulled off the highway and followed Highway 34 until I got to Corvallis, planning on spending the night and allowing the roads to clear up. I immediately loved Corvallis; there were people walking their dogs in the evening, people enjoying the snowfall, and it appeared as a neat little community. I ended up staying here a few days visiting the community. I located the sheriff’s office, which is on Jackson Street, and just knew I had to live here,” Jackson said. When he returned to Arizona, he submitted a 30-day notice to work, and returned to live in Corvallis just a month later. His career with the Benton County sheriff’s office began in July 1995 as an on-call corrections deputy, and he has worked with the department ever since.
“I rose through the ranks to manage the jail in 2005. In 2008 I was promoted to under-sheriff and in 2013 I was appointed sheriff,” Jackson said. In addition to his law enforcement accomplishments, Sheriff Jackson also holds a bachelor’s degree in Management and Communications from Western Baptist College (now Corban University). He is also continuing his education towards earning a master’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Western Oregon University.
The promotion to Sheriff has made some interesting changes for Jackson, who isn’t quite used to being recognized on the street. “I have people approach me who recognize me, that I don’t think I have ever met before. This is not a bad thing; it is great that community members are that engaged. It is just different for me,” he commented. Jackson has used his position in the county to build relationships amongst community and public safety resources. “We live in a community where people want to help and people want to be involved. I am enjoying sharing the great things going on in the sheriff’s office with people I meet in the community.”
Jackson is also no stranger to civic involvement in our community outside of the sheriff’s office. He is the president of the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis and the incoming chair for Leadership Corvallis — an organization that helps citizens learn about government and non-profit resources in our community. He is also a member of the Corvallis Elks, Rotary, and the Willamette Criminal Justice Council.
While many may expect a sheriff to be an imposing figure, in an October meeting of the Benton County Democrats, Jackson presented himself in the way most citizens would hope: direct, polite, considerate, and kind to his constituents, answering everyone’s questions fairly and honestly. Jackson has recently attended meetings of the Benton County Democrats and the Benton County Republicans to give out information about the sheriff’s department, about the tremendous need for improvements in our county jail, and to encourage members of the community to get involved and become familiar with the processes of local law enforcement.
Sheriff Jackson has apparently ushered in an age of transparency in the sheriff’s office, encouraging his deputies to become connected to community activities like the Chili Cookoff this fall, and continuing programs such as the Citizen’s Academy. His motive is simple: “As sheriff I will strive to engage community involvement and ownership of the sheriff’s office while providing public safety services worthy of the trust placed in the sheriff’s office.” Sheriff Jackson has performed exemplary service for our county during these last 18 years as a public servant, and hopefully he will give us many more as our sheriff.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Benton County Sheriff’s Office should look at their website http://www.co.benton.or.us/sheriff/ or their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BentonCoSheriff.
by Candy Smith