Island County sheriff bows out of boat grant

Sheriff Mark Brown withdraws from a joint grant sought by the Port of South Whidbey and Island County Sheriff
Sheriff Mark Brown withdraws from a joint grant sought by the Port of South Whidbey and Island County Sheriff's Office for a police boat.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Marine safety will continue to hit the water with a couple of near antique boats owned by the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Mark Brown officially informed the Port of South Whidbey his office would not further pursue a FEMA grant for a marine response boat. The grant required a 25 percent match, which Brown hoped would be funded by the sale of a couple of his office’s current boats. Those initial estimates came back well under what Brown needed to cover the match.

“If the opportunity ever comes again for me to be involved in an interlocal agreement for a grant, I will be,” Brown told the port commissioners at their meeting May 14.

Avoiding the cost of a new marine response vessel would also help his office deflect public criticism of the sheriff spending money on equipment rather than officers. Brown requested funding to hire deputies from the Island County commissioners at several meetings as a member of the county’s law and justice council. Island County commissioners are considering a sales tax to increase funding for the county’s sheriff’s office, jail and prosecutor’s office.

“I’m sorry we can’t work together and provide a police boat on the South End,” said Port President Curt Gordon. The port had the FEMA grant secured, all it needed was the sheriff’s go-ahead. Most of the grant money will go toward a fire and rescue boat for South Whidbey Fire/EMS, which has approved a bidder.


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