After months of short staffing, the deputies of the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office can breathe a little easier after hiring a new, full-time patrol deputy, Austin Violette. The county hired Violette on Jan. 30, selecting him from a number of candidates for the position.
“We’ve been short-handed for so long, having Austin is just going to take a lot of heat off everybody else,” Wallowa County Sheriff, Steve Rogers said. “We’re happy to have him because he’s a great kid, and he’s going to do an awesome job for us.”
Deputy Violette comes to Wallowa County from Anatone, Washington, where he served as a law enforcement ranger with the state’s parks and recreation commission.
The new deputy said that he’s always gravitated toward working with a team while helping people through precarious and difficult situations.
“I enjoy being part of a team responding to those kinds of situations,” he said. “I also like working in a rural setting in an environment where there’s mountains and lots of recreational opportunities. I think I’ve found that here.”
He said his specific interest in law enforcement stemmed from working in the woods fighting fires with the Bureau of Land Management out of Reno, Nevada, where he also worked with a lot of BLM law enforcement.
“That drove me into becoming a law enforcement ranger, and as I did that, I realized I wanted to go into a primary agency, especially a primary agency like this where in my mind, it’s the ideal position with all the mountains over into Hells Canyon and all the rural setting.”
Part of Violette’s duties will include patrols of Joseph, which had gone months without extra patrol from the Sheriff’s Office as the city and the county tussled over payment of the sheriff’s services and hours of patrol.
“[The Sheriff’s Office] talked to me about the new city of Joseph contract and spending time there while making it a priority for us as well as county-wide issues,” Violette said. “Spending time in Joseph will be good, and that’s what the people want.”
Already having attended an 18-week law enforcement academy while working in Washington, Violette will not attend the intensive training of the Oregon Public Safety Academy. He is, however, slated to attend a two-week course in Salem that is required for all laterals and out-of-state transfers.
The new deputy already comes with some knowledge of the area as he and his wife were regular visitors to the valley when they resided in Anatone.
“We would recreate down here, go swimming at the lake, kayaking out at the lake and the south fork of the Imnaha,” he said. “Now that we’re calling it home, it’s just awesome.”
After a week on the job, Violette said that the deputy position is a little faster paced than ranger work, with a wider range of calls and situations to respond to. He also noted the similarities, which include covering a large swath of territory and traveling long distances to respond to situations.
“Being able to work as a team player here, not only with the other deputies, but also Enterprise [Police Department] and even Oregon State Patrol is great,” he said. “I didn’t really have that as a ranger.”
For now, Violette is enjoying his time as the new deputy on the sheriff’s team.
“I enjoy being here, and I look forward to being here through all the different seasons,” he said. “Wintertime has its own challenges, but I’ll be here in the spring and summertime as well.”