Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Dec. 6, 2022

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Former sheriff candidate will helm new Clark County Jail Services department

By , Columbian staff writer

Former Clark County sheriff candidate David Shook has been named to head the county’s new Jail Services department. County Manager Kathleen Otto announced the decision in a press release Monday.

Shook will helm the department as director of jail services, Joe Barnett will be manager of jail administration and Bryan Pilakowski will be manager of jail operations. Shook will report to Deputy County Manager Amber Emery.

According to the press release, the team will begin the work of transitioning management of the Clark County Jail from the sheriff’s office to Jail Services on Oct. 17.

With the county council having just approved creating the new department at its Sept. 20 meeting, Monday’s announcement came as a surprise to some; several posts on social media questioned why the hiring process was done so quickly.

County Councilor Temple Lentz cautioned against rushing to judgment before getting all of the facts.

In an interview Monday, Lentz noted the county charter gives hiring authority of department heads to the county manager. Additionally, county policy allows positions requiring unique or specific skills or training to bypass the competitive application process.

While she understands the process may look rushed, especially as the November general election is now six weeks away, Lentz said the move has been a long time coming. She said ongoing concerns about the state of the jail meant action had to be taken.

“This isn’t a new conversation. It’s been going on for quite some time, in different iterations, over many, many years,” she said during the Sept. 20 meeting.

Lentz said the new structure will make for a better and safer jail for both employees and inmates. Lentz also said the county council shouldn’t have a role in making those hiring decisions.

“This is under the purview of the county manager. The council shouldn’t be meddling in it. What we do need and expect is regular updates from the county manager on the process,” Lentz said Monday. “Those updates should be held in public so that we, as well as the community, can track the process and ask questions as it goes.”

Efforts to reach Otto for comment Monday were unsuccessful.

Shook resigned Monday from his position as a deputy with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Prior to coming to Clark County, Shook spent 25 years with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon, where he worked in enforcement and corrections and held leadership roles in training and operations, the press release states. He ran for Clark County sheriff but lost in the August primary election to candidates John Horch, the chief criminal deputy at the sheriff’s office, and Rey Reynolds, a corporal with the Vancouver Police Department.

“I am humbled and excited to have been chosen for the director position of the newly formed Jail Services department. I look forward to working side by side with the jail staff and community stakeholders,” Shook said in the press release.

Efforts to reach Shook for further comment Monday were unsuccessful.

Barnett has worked for Clark County for more than 30 years and is currently a commander in corrections. Pilakowski has been with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years and is currently a corrections deputy. Barnett and Pilakowski have been instrumental in providing leadership in their respective positions in corrections, the press release said.

The process of transitioning management of the jail will take several months.

“Intentional conversations will commence, and a transition plan will be developed in partnership with all relevant internal and external partners, so within the county, as well as our partners in the community and other agencies,” Otto said during the Sept. 20 council meeting.

Otto said it was vital the county sustain the operations of the jail while maintaining continuity of service.