The efforts of OSP Private Keena Washington of the Clackamas County Water Rescue Team are recognized.
The Clackamas Sunrise Rotary Club recognized Oregon State Trooper Keena Washington, along with the Clackamas County Water Rescue Team, at its annual Law Enforcement Day awards ceremony on May 20. at Bob’s Red Mill.
“We hold this annual event to show our appreciation to those who put their lives on the line every day for us as they face circumstances that most people avoid and run from. The past two years have been particularly trying for law enforcement, as we know, so this will be our chance to highlight the great things they do while serving our county and our state,” said Rotary Club event organizer Dave Sohm.
OSP Lt. Patrick Huskey introduced six-year veteran Washington, who was nominated by his peers in 2020 and 2022 but had to wait until this year to be officially recognized due to COVID. Huskey said the department is 50% understaffed and Washington fills it in when needed in addition to being the field training manager and part of the mobile response team.
Over the past two years, the Clackamas County Water Rescue Team has responded to 80 calls for help in Clackamas County and 30 missions across the state of Oregon, ranging from locating weapons in the search and recovery of people lost in water and in natural disasters. They have helped in Multnomah, Marion, Yamhill, Washington and Clackamas counties, as well as the towns of Hillsboro, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Salem, Bend and Milwaukie. Deputy Josh Hattan said the average tenure on the team was six to eight years.
“Our calls are literally, a pager rings, and I tell the guys ‘let’s go’ and they drop what they’re doing – family, work and all that stuff. So it’s amazing that these guys can go from there. before and do this for years,” Hattan said.
Hattan told the Rotary Club about two missions, one was the team’s search in the Columbia River Gorge for a woman who was swept away in a landslide. Most of the team members had no prior experience with mud but, nonetheless, used their training to navigate their way through the debris and eventually found the victim.
“These guys adapt to anything. They’re able to do so much and it’s been such an amazing experience with them,” Hattan said.
Hattan said divers generally have no visibility, tie themselves to a line and search by touch. The team dives in 40 feet of water or less and operates in dry suits, thermals and other layers that completely isolate their bodies from water and potential contaminants and help them stay warm. As for the duration, divers stay underwater between 20 minutes and an hour depending on the conditions and the level of mental fatigue.
“Designated security guards in our team monitor the divers. So if we feel it’s becoming a burden on them, we remove them,” Hattan said.
Mental fatigue is a concern that the team makes sure to address when off duty as well. While the team has many stories of successful dives, they have just as many – if not more – experiences where they witness unforgettable deaths.
“You never forget those dives. I can visualize some of mine,” Hattan said. “The way the mind processes and stores information doesn’t always know where to place events and memories. So, unaided, they will just sit on a desk. And the more memories you have accumulated, the less memory you have. workspace. for your daily activities.”
Hattan said mental health is an issue that must be constantly addressed by law enforcement. Agents come to terms with what they are going through by discussing with specialist advisers, with their loved ones and with each other.
Hattan called the dive team a second family for team members.
“We do things off duty, we do things together and we trust each other,” he said. “If I’m the diver underwater, I trust the guy on the surface who helps me. I trust the guys who support me if I need them. It’s an extra family again closer than the guys we work with on the road and on patrol.”
In light of the Defund the Police movement, CCSO Lt. Marcus Mendoza said that when the movement continued and Portland lost funds, Clackamas County voters approved the sheriff’s office tax in May 2021. In tax, there was a request for increased funding, which gave them additional assistant positions.
“We needed it, and we thank the voters for their decision on this, so we will give you the best possible service with the funds you provide,” Mendoza said.
After July, Clackamas County will hire additional deputies. The training lasts a year and a half, so the benefits will not be visible until next fall.
“Luckily for us in Clackamas County, we know we have the support of the community. We hear that from you day in and day out, and from all of us, I will say thank you,” Mendoza said.
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