Sisters will have a lot more law enforcement coverage starting this summer, when a new contract between the City of Sisters and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office takes effect.

The Sisters City Council signed the contract at its Wednesday, March 11 meeting. It now goes on to the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners and Sheriff Shane Nelson for their approval — which is expected to be readily forthcoming.

Nelson expressed his satisfaction with the contract in an interview with The Nugget last week.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “I think this is going to be a great opportunity not just for the City but for the residents out west. I think this is a great moment for the sheriff’s office and the Sisters Country out here.”

The contract calls for Sisters to have a dedicated force of one lieutenant and three deputies. Consistency of staffing was a critical component of the agreement — as close an approximation to having its own police force as Sisters can realistically afford to come.

The Sisters contingent will have distinct markings on its patrol cars.

“We want anyone who lives in Sisters to be able to see a law enforcement vehicle and understand that is a deputy who is serving our community through this contract and the taxpapers are paying for,” said City Manager Cory Misley.

Misley said that the emphasis will be on building relationships between the Sisters-assigned deputies and members of the community.

The total fixed contract amount is $661,200, with a total potential amount including overtime, extended shift coverage and special services of $711,200. The lieutenant will report to the DCSO command, but will work closely with City officials.

“The lieutenant is supposed to be on board July 1, which is the effective date of the contract,” Misley said. “The deputies, hopefully some of them will be on board before July 1 or shortly after.”

The contract allows for some flexibility in timeline to allow for recruitment of the deputies.

With three deputies, there will be a coverage gap of approximately four to five hours. There will continue to be a 24-hour west-county patrol deputy on duty, and Black Butte Ranch Police and Oregon State Police are available for emergency backup.

“It is potentially something that will be dynamic, as well,” Misley said — meaning that shift assignments could be adjusted to address specific law enforcement needs at certain times.

Misley noted that the contract is built on a cost-for-service basis, with those costs more fully lined out than they have been in the past.

“All we’re trying to do is pay for the service we’re getting,” he said. “From a budgetary perspective, this is pretty black and white. It’s pretty straightforward.”

Sisters is getting more coverage, with a directly assigned force of deputies who will know the community thoroughly. Both the City government and Sheriff Nelson consider that a significant, cost-effective improvement in law enforcement services on the west end of Deschutes County.

“This is a really good step in the right direction,” Misely said.