About Mark

Hello Polk County Citizens,

For those of you who don’t know me, I would like to introduce myself to you. I feel that it’s important for people to know more about me than just my work history. It’s necessary for people to truly know who I am as a person and what my values and belief systems are because I will be asking you to make a very important decision, in asking for your support to continue to be your sheriff.

I have lived my entire life in Polk County and grew up in the community of Pedee, which is about 16 miles south of Dallas. I lived with my parents, Alan and Susan Garton and my older brother Eric. My parents now live in Dallas and my brother lives in Indiana. Growing up with a father who had been in the United State Army and later an Oregon State Police Trooper and a mother who was an elementary school teacher they were able to teach me how to be respectful, to listen and to make good choices as I was growing up. I owe my parents a tremendous amount thanks for teaching me how to be an adult and I would not be in the position I am today without them.

I attended Pedee Elementary School and later went on to graduate from Dallas High School in 1997. When I was 16 years old I started working at Starlite Lanes Bowling alley in Dallas until I was 21. Also in 1997 I applied to be a volunteer Cadet at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and was later hired to that position by then Sheriff Ray Steele. It was during that volunteer program when I learned that I had the passion and drive to enter the field of law enforcement. I saw the pride and honor that the Polk County Deputies showed on a daily basis and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that organization so that I too could provide a level of honorable service that people of this county come to expect.

While attending Dallas High school I began to date and later married the love of my life, Stefanie Garton (Koloen). In 2000 I was hired as a part time records position at the Sheriff’s Office where I was still volunteering my time as a cadet. Later in that same year, I applied and was accepted into the volunteer Reserve Deputy Program at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. I learned that if I continued to work hard I would earn a deputy position at the Sheriff’s Office.

In 2001 I transferred to the Polk County Jail where I worked as a Corrections Technician while also volunteering as a reserve deputy. Later in 2002 I was promoted to a Corrections Deputy. Since I was promoted to a corrections deputy I was not able to continue working as a reserve deputy with Polk County. So, while working as a corrections deputy I was able to volunteer my time as a reserve officer with the Dallas Police Department so that I could still give back to my community on a different level.

In 2003 I transferred to back to the patrol division where I worked as a patrol deputy, detective, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant and up to my current position as your Polk County Sheriff. As the detective sergeant, I supervised the Polk County Inter Agency Major Crimes Team and I also supervised the Polk County Inter Agency Narcotics Team (POINT) until it was deactivated due to staffing issues. Even as the detective sergeant, I continued to work general investigations and I also supervised our general detectives.  During my time at the Sheriff’s Office I have supervised the Reserve Deputy program and the SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) and Cadet programs.  I found it very rewarding to work with volunteers within Polk County as that is where I found my passion and began my career in Law Enforcement.  I have never wanted to work anywhere other than Polk County and I am very dedicated to this profession and to the citizens of Polk County.

I have over 2200 hours of training in the areas of supervision, leadership, firearms, Drug Investigations, Confrontational Simulations, among many others. I am currently dual certified in both police and corrections, with advanced, supervisory certificates in both disciplines as well. I also have an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice from Chemeketa Community College. I am the only member of the office that is dual certified.

I have been married since 2003 and I have two boys, Jackson and Bryson ages 18 and 16. My family and I live in Dallas and will continue to live in this community as we both love this area. We enjoy working and living in the same community we live in and I feel that anyone who wants to serve the public in any capacity must have that community connection in order to succeed.

I have been the supervisor of the POINT (Polk County Inter Agency Narcotics Team) and I also supervised the Polk County Major Crimes Team, where I manage major felony criminal investigations, including up to murder investigations. As the supervisor of those two teams I helped play an integral part of these multi agency teams.  Each involved agency is unique, but we all come together for a common cause.  While serving as the supervisor, I found that inter agency cooperation and communication is a key factor in making these cooperative efforts successful.   I have the support from the local police chiefs, the Oregon State Police and retired Sheriff Bob Wolfe to lead these teams, of which I am grateful and honestly humbled.

My leadership style is one of cooperation, teamwork,  leading from the front and ultimately, by example.  Each member of the community deserves the most highly trained and effective deputy sheriff’s to provide a level of customer service that is above and beyond.  By believing in the employees and supporting them in every facet of their job, we can be successful and work towards the mission of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.   I truly believe that by doing the right thing, at the right time, even though no one is looking is a value that I take to heart and practice everyday.  By doing so, accountability is built into every decision that I make and rightfully so,  as the public demands it and it would be my responsibility to maintain that public trust.  I will work to earn that trust everyday.

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