Sheriff's Offices Train Together


Members of the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue were sworn in as special deputies for the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office by Sheriff Terry Rowan during a joint team operations training mission.

The Walla Walla County team members will now have the authority to operate in Umatilla County searching for missing or injured persons, and augmenting the existing Search and Rescue team capabilities in Umatilla County. Though they have worked together before, this exercise was their first mission together under the special appointment.

“This is a great opportunity for two successful teams to come together, operate in unity, train with each other, and get to know one another with the intent to enhance their success.” said Rowan.

Rowan, Walla Walla County Sheriff John Turner and Umatilla County Emergency Manager Thomas Roberts were present at the exercise to view the teams’ successes. “Both teams have a long standing history of success”, said Turner. “Joint training and combined operations will only enhance our capabilities and better serve our communities.”

The scenario of the mock mission was to respond to a report of a mother and son that were missing. Both teams convened in the area for the joint exercise and used their combined skills and resources to complete the search, including ground searches, K9 searches, equestrian searches, and motorized searches. An incident command post was established to coordinate these activities and practice interagency communications. The boy was ultimately found alive in the woods. The scenario of the exercise changed though when items were discovered that led the teams to believe that a crime scene had been discovered related to the search. This practiced the teams in preservation of evidence techniques in addition to searches.

Former Undersheriff and FBI Agent Eddie Freyer assisted with coordinating the training. “The key is for these teams to maintain a high level of readiness. Keeping teams engaged through training and exercises, ensures that they are prepared for when they are needed”, he said. Freyer is now affiliated with the California Peace Officer’s Standards and Training.

With the addition of the Walla Walla County personnel to the resource capacity of Umatilla County, Rowan hopes to decrease response times to search and rescue cases in the northeast part of the county, as well as increase the overall efficiency during these responses. The teams are led by Umatilla County Sergeant Dwight Johnson and Walla Walla County Chief Deputy Shanda Zessin.