During TV coverage of the recent wildfires, I noticed that the Multnomah County sheriff wears two stars on his uniform. I checked out other Oregon sheriffs, and some wear up to four stars! Is our guy outranked? I am proud of Portland and I want the best! —Andrew
Your letter got me thinking—what sheriff has the most stars of all? That distinction belongs to the sheriff of Los Angeles County, who sports no fewer than five stars on his overburdened collar.
It's a bold move, considering that only five men have reached five-star rank in the entire history of the U.S. Army, and three of them of them were Dwight Eisenhower. Still, the LASD is the largest county sheriff's department in the nation. Perhaps the number of stars corresponds to the size of the department?
Not in Oregon. As Andrew notes elsewhere in his letter, the sheriffs of both Jackson and Josephine counties rock three-star insignias. It's possible that Josephine County's notoriously tight-fisted voters gave their sheriff an extra star in lieu of health insurance, but there's no reason for Jackson County's sheriff to outrank Multnomah's guy.
And what about that preening satrap, the sheriff of Lane County? What pie-eating contest did he win that he should stagger under the weight of no fewer than four stars?
"The number of stars is specific to each agency and not standardized or regulated," says Lane County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Carrie Carver. Basically, the number of stars reflects nothing except the department's founders' fondness for bling.
Carver went on to note that while she'd never seen her boss in a pie-eating contest, "We think he's pretty cool and would probably be able to hold his own."