Photography and photojournalism in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

No such thing as a routine arrest

There’s no such thing as a routine arrest. That’s a big part of why Richard Sheldon, a deputy with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon enjoys his work. There’s also the bit about getting to take drunken drivers, such as the gentleman above, out of commission when they endanger everyone else around them. That’s even more of a treat for Sheldon, who has made detecting drunken drivers one of his specialties.

A certified drug recognition expert, he also is trained to ferret out drivers who might be high on prescription medication, methamphetamine or even the notorious bath salts. Sometimes, as in the photo to the right, there is nothing more than fatigue involved in someone’s erratic driving.

I recently spent a 10-hour night shift with Sheldon as he patrolled the south Portland metro area. It was a bit ironic to realize that the arrest of the gentleman above, who Sheldon witnessed driving erratically and at high-speed before he pulled into a Wilsonville apartment complex, was made possible by an act of leniency. Just minutes before, Sheldon talked to a 19-year-old who admitted to drinking alcohol despite his age. Instead of writing a citation, he gave the boy a lift home instead. That took us several miles out of our way to the south end of Wilsonville, where we dropped the boy off at his home and quickly witnessed the man above as he tore down a city street at over 50 mph.

Had I ridden with Sheldon the following night, instead of an intoxicated driver I might have been party to the manhunt for a Happy Valley man suspected of shooting his girlfriend and killing her mother. While a lot of people in the Portland area are quick to jump on local police agencies when there is a controversial incident, it’s definitely helpful to view the work of law enforcement from this side of the flashing lights. It might not make a difference to someone’s political leanings or opinion of the role of civilian policing in society, but it sure gives a better understanding of the human side of things.


2 responses

  1. Nony

    Nice story, nice pictures!

    August 12, 2012 at 22:59

    • Thank you!

      August 13, 2012 at 16:22

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