Swift Water Rescue

Residents and tourists alike are beating the heat this summer by hitting the many rivers and lakes that Central Oregon has to offer. While a river float is a great way to cool off this summer, it does come with potential hazards. The increased traffic on local rivers is why Bend Fire and Rescue holds swift water rescue trainings several times throughout the year beginning in early spring and continuing throughout the summer.

The 14-member rescue team specializes in class three, four and five whitewater, which include rapids and strong currents that make it more difficult for people to self-rescue. The team runs four to five practice sessions a year to prepare for any potential rescue situations.

Mike Baxter of Bend Fire Rescue said that whole summers have passed where no rescues are necessary but between Bend Fire and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s search and rescue team they’ve already performed between 3 and 5 assists across Central Oregon this year.

Just last week the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Bend Fire Department pulled a 13-year-old boy to safety at Lava Island Falls after the teenager became stranded on a rocky island in the middle of the Deschutes River south of bend and was surrounded by class five whitewater rapids.

When initiating a rescue the team will begin with the lowest risk option for both the rescuer and the victim. So each year they practice several different rescue techniques. One technique, which was used to rescue the teenage last week, involves a tether system and a raft. Another, which was tested out during Tuesday’s training on Central Oregon Daily’s own Anyssa Bohanan, involves a 75 foot long rope and a member of the rescue team.

Anyssa can attest that should the worst happen and you do need rescuing, you’re in solid hands. However, the best way to stay safe and have a good time is to be prepared and be aware.

New Cars for Sheriff’s Office

Three 2018 Dodge Chargers Hit the Road

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s office unveiled the newest additions to their patrol car fleet on Friday. The three 2018 Dodge Chargers are painted in the classic black and white. The new color scheme is meant to be more than just a retro look with a modern flare. Sheriff Nelson says the new graphics are there to make it very clear they are Deschutes County Sheriff vehicles.

The newest vehicles hit the streets Friday afternoon and are the first of 30 total new vehicles expected to roll out between now and the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Because the design is simply a black vehicle with a white sticker, the chargers cost the same as all the others in the sheriff’s office fleet and one vehicle even uses all recycled equipment from a prior law enforcement vehicle. However, they do feature several newer details than their previous models including the addition of the thin blue line, social media tags and changes to the flashing lights.

This is the first year that all of the new vehicles being put into service with the Sheriff’s Department will either be all-wheel or four wheel drive capable, making the new fleet more capable of traversing the 3,000 mile area the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office covers, particularly in winter driving months.

With the Sheriff’s Office’s automotive fleet regularly driving over a million miles each year, these new rides have a long road ahead of them.

County Still Struggling with 911 Radios

After replacing the outdated analog radio system for Deschutes County first responders, the county hoped its 911 radio issues would be solved. However a number of issues have arisen including lack of reception in buildings, no reception in other areas and volume variations. Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel sat down with Deschutes County Commissioners to see how they hope to tackle the issues that could threaten lives.

New Bike Patrols in Sisters

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office wanted to increase their patrols in Sisters but thought patrol cars weren’t the right fit for the small, intimate downtown area, so they traded four wheels for two.

As Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan reports, you will see deputies proudly pedaling on duty in Sisters this weekend at the Quilt Show.

Yoga Behind Bars

When you think of yoga you probably think of a peaceful, tranquil, place. However this yoga class takes place behind bars.

Welcome to the Deschutes County Jail yoga program.

Inmates already have access to other programs with a focus on drug and alcohol treatment and religion but jail officials identified anxiety as one of the top stressors for inmates. They thought yoga could be part of the solution.

Today was only the program’s second class but it seems to already be making an impact on those who are taking it, according to some inmates.

Due to safety concerns and the fact that both yoga instructors are female the class is currently only currently offered to female inmates. However there are plans to bring in male instructors in order to expand the program.

The program is completely free. Local yoga instructor, including instructor Nancy Lumpkin who normally teaches at Namaspa volunteer one morning a week to teach a practice to inmates.

Deputy Involved in Fatal Shooting

The Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office is investigating a deadly shooting involving a sheriff’s deputy west of Bend on Wednesday night.

The incident began around 6 p.m. on Wednesday night at a campsite on Forest Road 4610, off Century Drive, when a woman walking her dog overheard an argument between a man and a woman and then heard gunshots. According to District Attorney John Hummel, the woman called 911 and with in 14 minutes, Deschutes County Deputy Randy Zilke was at the scene and was confronted by 44-year-old Springfield resident Jesse Wade Powell. Powell, an ex-convict that had been recently released from a 13-year sentence, was found with a stolen U-Haul and two trailers filled with stolen items.

During the confrontation Deputy Zilke fired his gun once, killing Powell. Shortly after a second deputy, Liam Klatt, arrived on the scene. So far investigators have not said if Powell had a weapon or fired at Zilke.

The woman who had been heard arguing with Powell had fled the scene by the time Zilke arrived. However, investigators have located her and Hummel said she is cooperating with the investigation.

Deputies Zilke and Klatt have been placed on administrative leave pending the result of the investigation, which is standard Oregon protocol for any shooting involving law enforcement officers. Both Zilke and Klatt are Marine Corps veterans. Zilke has been with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office since 2005 and Klatt since 2001. Neither deputy was injured in the incident.

The Kozowski Files

Sheriff’s Office Talks to Central Oregon Daily About Termination if Former Deputy

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Oregon is the defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by former deputy,Eric Kozowski. Kozowski alleges that the department retailiated against him for running in the 2016 election against Sheriff L. Shane Nelson.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan sat down with a member of the Sheriff’s Office to talk about the hundreds of pages of documents the department released to support its termination of Kozowski.

The Kozowski Files

Deschutes County Sheriff Responds to Federal Lawsuit from Former Deputy

Former Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Kozowski filed a formal complaint in federal court against both the county and Sheriff L. Shane Nelson last February, citing retaliation, whistleblowing and wrongful discharge.

On Friday, Sheriff Nelson released his official answer that was filed in federal court.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has details on the sheriff’s response.

Lost Toddler Placed in State Custody

Bradley Michael Thomas, the toddler who was found in the woods south of Bend on Thursday morning, is now officially in the custody of the state after being removed from his parents following the arrest of the baby’s father.

One-year-old Bradley was miraculously found unharmed Thursday afternoon after he’d been missing for nearly six hours along China Hat Road in Bend.

According to Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson, Bradley was located alone and naked nearly a mile northeast of the vehicle the toddler was living in with his parents. The detective who found Bradley took him in an ambulance to St. Charles Hospital, where the child stayed until this afternoon.

The Sheriff’s Office said Friday that Bradley is doing well and is currently in the care of the Department of Human Services.

The Central Oregon community quickly came together following news of Bradley’s disappearance and has continued the outpouring of support for the toddler. Due to this outpouring the Sheriff’s Office is now accepting donations of clothing and other items to give to Bradley until he has a permanent home.

Bradley’s father, 25-year-old Brandon Blouin, was placed under arrest and charged with criminal mistreatment, neglect, endangering the welfare of a minor and an assault charge police say is associated with an injury Bradley likely received prior to going missing while in his parents’ care.

Blouin has a long history of run-ins with the law across multiple state lines and, according to Bradley’s extended family, a history of abuse towards Bradley’s mother Katelin.

Bradley’s maternal grandmother and aunt, who live in West Virginia, have been searching for Bradley for months. Bradley’s grandmother Mellisa Jordan said she was granted full custody of Bradley in March, but in early February Katelin requested a play date with Bradley and never returned.

The family heard nothing of Bradley’s whereabouts for three months, and while they haven’t been able to see Bradley, Jordan did hear from Blouin on Friday when they were both dialed in to a custody hearing at the Deschutes County Courthouse.

Jordan said Blouin sounded distressed, just as he did on Thursday after Bradley’s rescue, however Jordan said this show of emotion is nothing but manipulation.

The family hopes to be reunited with little Bradley soon, but for now he will be put in foster care.

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Redmond Police are accepting donations for Bradley while he is in state custody. They said they are in need of any clothing size 18 months, shoes size 6 to 7, and size 7 diapers.

Search and Rescue of One-Year-Old Boy Leads to Arrest

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 25-year-old man in connection with a frantic search for a missing one-year-old boy south of Bend off China Hat Road on Thursday morning.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan was there when a Deschutes County Sheriff’s detective found Bradley Michael Thomas naked and cold, but safe, in the woods.

Thomas is in good condition after being evaluated at St. Charles Hospital, and he is now in the custody of the Department of Human Services.

25-year-old Brandon Blouin has been arrested in connection for his involvement in Thomas’ disappearance. Blouin is being charged with Criminal Mistreatment I, Neglect II, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, and an Assault Charge for an injury that authorities believe happened while Thomas was in Blouin’s care.