The man who has helped the Island County Sheriff run the department since taking office in 2007 is leaving.
Undersheriff Kelly Mauck recently announced he is resigning as second-in-command of a department of 67 people, including 37 commissioned deputies. His last day will be Sept. 10.
“He’s done a stellar job for me,” Sheriff Mark Brown said.
“He isn’t necessarily a ‘yes’ man. We discussed issues, gauged each other’s thoughts and worked out the problems. We worked well together. ”
Brown has no immediate plans to replace him. The two men worked out a new organizational chart in which a series of people will take on his responsibilities and report directly to the sheriff.
It’s a time of change in the office. Following the release of a report on the dehydration death of a jail inmate, the jail chief and two corrections deputies quit. Brown fired a lieutenant who oversaw jail operations.
But Mauck emphasizes that the tragedy at the jail and the ongoing reforms aren’t the reasons he decided to call it quits.
“If anything, the death at the jail made it more difficult to leave,” said Mauck, who’s been spearheading the reform process.
Brown admits that the timing of Mauck’s departure isn’t great, but he said it won’t impact reforms; many changes — from personnel to health care to documentation — were made at the jail immediately after the tragedy, he said.
Mauck explained that his wife, Brandi, is a firefighter on Camano Island. The fire department is sending her to paramedic school at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for ten months. He said he decided to support her career.
“Essentially I am going to be a single dad for two young children,” he said.
But it’s also something he’s been contemplating for some time. While he has a great respect for law enforcement, there are aspects of the job that clearly exasperate him.
“There’s a lot of frustration,” he said. “There’s an entire system that we work under that is misunderstood by many, many people.”
He’s upset with the current anti-police climate in the nation. Absent from the national debate, he said, is the acknowledgement of the challenges and dangers of the job, or the fact that more officers are good people who do a good job.
“That’s not to say there are not problems in law enforcement that need to be fixed or deserve to be fixed,” he said.
In fact, Mauck is known for holding police officers accountable. As the undersheriff, he’s the one who conducts disciplinary investigations and investigations of job candidates; he uncovered allegations against a Coupeville deputy that resulted in a criminal charge.
He also admits that budget constraints have made the job difficult. He’s been outspoken in arguing that the office is understaffed and that law enforcement should be the county’s top priority; he still feels that the commissioners haven’t made that commitment.
It doesn’t help that Mauck is underpaid. He said he’s known for years that he makes $3-$4 per hour less than other people in the same position in comparable departments. A county salary study recently backed that up.
He has 20 years of experience in law enforcement. His wife, by comparison, has been a firefighter for 10 years. He said she’s out-earned him for at least three years.
Nevertheless, he said the salary wasn’t the deciding factor — his family was.
“It’s not all about money for me,” he said. “It never has been.”
Mauck said he’s not sure if he’ll return to law enforcement someday. He said it was a great job for 20 years.
“It’s an awesome responsibility. You have a lot of discretion,” he said. “You have the ability to do an awful lot to help people.”