On Wednesday, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office complex was formally dedicated as the Les Stiles Justice Center.
The dedication in honor of Les Stiles, who served as the seventh sheriff of Deschutes County from 2001 to 2007.
But there was much more to the former sheriff than police work.
“He was a pillar of the community. A force for good. Larger than life, which is how I thought of Les,” said Rod Ray.
Until now, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office didn’t have a name.
It’s now named for the seventh sheriff to serve the county.
“The entire main office complex is known as Les Stiles Justice Center,” said current Sheriff Shane Nelson. “That includes our automotive, building maintenance, our jail, our SWAT facility. All of that is encompassed on our main sheriff’s office campus.”
During his tenure as sheriff, Les Stiles went to the voters three times to securing stable funding for the department.
With a predictable budget, the agency evolved into a full service organization that provides patrol, criminal investigations, corrections, civil services, search and rescue, marine patrol and special operations to 200,000 residents in the unincorporated parts of Deschutes County.
“He always said ‘First you take care of your people.’ Back in the days when we had to go out for levies when we had to fund people, it was awful. Employees would get pink slips,” said Carole Stiles, Les’ wife. “How can you build a stable professional organization when they think they are going to get canned the next week. Being here and seeing this is so…I can’t express it. Surreal almost.”
Sheriff Stiles and his wife Carole established the Shop With a Cop Program which serves more than 100 children and 600 family members every Christmas.
They also started the Central Oregon Partnership for Youth, known as the COPY program, which links community volunteers with the children of people who are incarcerated.
“One day he pulled me aside and said something he learned as a cop: ‘Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.’ To this day through work, through life, through anything, I keep that with me and it helps me keep my memory of him within me,” said Zach Stiles, Les’s grandson who the former sheriff raised as his own child.
Sheriff Stiles taught leadership courses at Central Oregon Community College and Concordia University.
“Les practiced and taught a concept called servant leadership. Servant leadership is a stewardship concept. It means leave your people better than you found them. That was Les, for sure,” Ray said.
Stiles left the sheriff’s department better than he found it and for that the complex is named in his honor.