Sheriff's Office Team
A dedicated team of islanders
Our command staff bring a wealth of knowledge and a tremendous amount of combined experience to their assignments.
I have been blessed to be part of this community and working for the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office on Orcas and San Juan Islands since 2017. In addition to my role as Patrol Sergeant on San Juan Island, I served as a trainer in progressive policing focusing on De-escalation, Communication Skills, and Emotional Intelligence. Training around the state has given me a clear vision for the future.
My wife and I came to San Juan County after falling in love with the islands years ago, traveling here any chance we could. We made the move to become full time residents after my retirement with the Houston Police Department in 2017 where I served since 1995. As an Officer for the Houston Police Department, I served as a Patrol Officer, working on various teams- Westside Gang Task Force, and Violent Crime Impact Team. As a Sergeant for Houston Police Department, I supervised the Northeast Patrol Division, Airport Division, Emergency Communications Division, Westside Patrol Division, and Westside Crime Analysis Unit. I carry this experience and lessons with me as I serve the people of San Juan County.
Undersheriff Mike Hairston served as the SJCSO’s Chief Criminal Deputy from March 2021 to December 2022, supervising the Sergeants on each island and the patrol deputies. He also updated the SJCSO’s policies and oversaw its training program. Mike joined the SJCSO in January 2020 as a deputy on Orcas Island. Mike moved to Orcas from Dallas, Texas where he spent 31 years in law enforcement with the last 15 years in police administration. During his career, he also served as a hostage negotiator, an accident reconstruction expert, and firearms instructor. He currently teaches leadership development for the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association and for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. At the University of North Texas, Mike earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Arts and Science and a Masters Degree in Public Administration.
Kim Ott has served as the Chief Civil Deputy for the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office since 2010. She has been employed in management positions for most of her career. The Chief Civil Deputy supervises the civil office employees, the dispatch supervisor and dispatch center employees. She is responsible for a multitude of tasks, including management of the Sheriff’s Office grants, creation and management of the Sheriff’s Office budgets, and oversees all Sheriff’s Office records. The Chief Civil Deputy enforces the civil laws for the Sheriff’s Office. This includes executing writs for evictions, property seizures and sales, and ensuring proper service and return of court documents. Other duties include payroll review and approval of Sheriff’s Office staff, ensures all sworn staff are properly outfitted, approves Accounts Payable for processing, and reviews and approves Concealed Pistol Licenses and firearm transfers.
David Alexander is a 28-year law enforcement veteran. David served in the United States Marine Corps prior to beginning his law enforcement career in California. David has experience with numerous assignments including Patrol, School Resource, Gang Enforcement, Field Training, County Search and Rescue, and Hostage/Crisis Negotiation. He also was assigned to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau to assist SWAT.
After 28 years with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, David joined the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. David worked patrol on Orcas Island until his promotion to Chief Criminal Deputy in January of 2023.
Born and raised on Orcas Island, Ray brings an extensive island community knowledge to his work. After graduating Orcas Island High School in 2007, earned an AA degree in Criminal Justice and obtained his Reserve Deputy Certification. He was hired on full time with the department in January of 2013.
While working for San Juan County, Ray has been entrusted as a Field Training Officer and holds several training certificates including interview techniques, Homicide Investigations, Sexual Assaults, Emergency Vessel Operations, Boating Operations for Search and Rescue, and Advanced Roadside Impaired driving. He served as Marine Unit Coordinator from 2017 to 2021 until he was selected to assume his current position as a detective in 2022.
Ray continues his family’s long history in the community, and with his kids, they are working on five generations here! This also in part, is what fuels his appreciation of the great cohesiveness between first responders and community members.
Zac Reimer, Sergeant
Zac has been in Law Enforcement for almost 22 years and the last just over 8 of them have been here for San Juan County. He started Law Enforcement back in 2001 for the Lummi Police Department and in 2003 transferred to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. He grew up in a small town, north of Bellingham. Growing up in a small town, you knew everyone especially the police. As a child he looked at the job that they did and how close they were with the community and that always stuck with me.
When asked “what do you love about your job?”, he will tell you that it is difficult to answer. He loves helping people problem solve, but the fact that someone is in a bad situation or there is a crisis going on, makes it hard to love. He has always worked hard to help people the best he can through those times and help problem solve. He is a firm believer in the community and the police working together to help solve the issues in the community.
Rion Brandt, Deputy
Rion Brandt is a Deputy Sheriff with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. After growing up on Orcas Island, Brandt enlisted into the United States Army. Later, Brandt earned an Associates of Science in Crime Scene Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Investigations.
Brandt joined the San Juan County Sheriff's Office in June of 2021 and in 2022 completed training to become a certified Crime Scene Technician.
"I look forward to a long career with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and couldn’t be happier to serve and be part of my home county."
Nick Wainwright, Deputy
Nick Wainwright has been part of the Sheriff’s Office team since 2017 when he started as an emergency dispatcher, and in 2022, switched from dispatch to patrol. Nick has a history of public service both with San Juan Fire as a Firefighter and San Juan EMS as an EMT.
Previous to his work in emergency services, Nick lived in various cities, states and countries to learn, grow and hone the skills needed to best serve those around him.
Nick has lived on San Juan Island most of his life, graduating from Friday Harbor High School, and plans on serving his community on San Juan Island as long as he can.
Eric Gardiner, Deputy
Eric Gardiner is the senior Deputy on San Juan Island. Gardiner was hired by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in 1996 by Sheriff William Cumming.
He was raised on Whidbey Island in a military family - his father was a Naval Aviator, and his mother was a schoolteacher. He graduated from Washington State University with a BA in Criminal Justice. In his time with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, he has served as a Taser Instructor for 8 years and the Sex Offender Registration Officer for 20 years. He was also a volunteer EMT for 8 years.
Joshua Holt, Deputy
Jay Holt started his career in Law Enforcement in 2006 as a Corrections Officer with the City of Fife. Later, he moved to a patrol position with the City of Burlington. While there, he was selected to be part of the Skagit County SWAT team, responding to high-risk incidents, and serving search warrants on dangerous individuals.
In 2018 he moved to San Juan Island, seeking a better place for his family. Jay’s favorite aspect of working for the Sheriff’s Office is the fact that the work done here has a tangible impact on the community. Working directly with known individuals over time has reinforced that compassion and care can create a positive impact for everyone, and that impact is visible in those who have overcome adversity.
In his spare time, Jay enjoys gardening, hiking, exploring the islands, and playing guitar. He also spends a lot of time working on his house, but he does not enjoy it. (ha-ha)
John Stanford, Correctional & Courthouse Security Officer
John Stanford began his career in government service in 2001 by enlisting in the United States Navy. After the Navy, he began a career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2014 as a correctional officer at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He moved on to positions of increasing responsibility including Mobile Equipment Metal Worker Supervisor at Federal Correctional Complex Terre Haute, Indiana; Safety Administrator at Federal Prison Camp Duluth, Minnesota; and Metropolitan Correctional Center Chicago, Illinois.
John lives with his family on Lopez Island where his wife’s family has been a part of the Lopez Island and San Juan County community since 1884. The San Juan County Sheriff's Office is excited to have John joining our team and to finally have a Courthouse Security position for the safety of all who work in and visit the courthouse.
Rodney Nawn, Detective
Rodney Nawn began his career in Law Enforcement in 2013 for the City of Long Beach, WA as a patrol officer. While there he worked with a narcotics enforcement team that conducted multiple operations, serving high risk search warrants and arresting drug dealers. In 2017 he received the American Legion Officer of the year award as well as the City of Long Beach Mayor’s Award for his efforts in making the community a safer place.
In late 2017 he was hired as a patrol Deputy with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. He started on Orcas Island and was there for a year before moving to San Juan Island, where he and his family now live. He enjoys working in San Juan County because much like the small town of Long Beach, he can make a positive impact on the community. In January 2023, he was assigned to the position of Detective in the Sheriff’s Office Investigative Division.
Jason Gross has been a deputy on Orcas since 2016. He grew up in Tumwater, WA and after graduating high school, served in the Marine Corps. After getting out of the service he worked for The YMCA in Olympia for 6 years, leading before and after school programs and summer camps.
He loves the fact that we get to do community policing and have time to be involved with the great community on Orcas. Most importantly, he loves spending time with his family.
Bryce Peterson joined the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in February of 2019. He is a Field Training Officer and the Marine Coordinator where he is responsible for all aspects of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office maritime program.
Peterson was honorably discharged after serving in the United States Coast Guard and attended the Bates Vocational Technical College Firefighting Program. He was first hired as a law enforcement officer in 2006 with the Town of Odessa Marshal’s Office where he was responsible for all aspects of law enforcement including community policing, crime prevention, patrol, Investigations, enforcement, etc. He received training in and was certified as a Child Forensic Interviewer, Property and Evidence Custodian, Sector Trainer, and Taser Instructor.
Peterson and his wife, Rochelle, are proud foster parents and adoptive parents to three girls and two boys. They currently have three children enrolled in local schools on Orcas Island. "I spent some of my best days as a youth in the San Juans and feel very blessed that our family is able to experience the natural beauty, serenity and community that are the San Juan Islands."
Rory Smith, Patrol Sergeant
Rory Smith joined the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in 2017 and now serves as the district sergeant for Lopez Island. His law enforcement career began in 2001 with the Seattle Police Department.
Rory has worked in a patrol capacity his entire career, including eight years as a canine handler. He is thankful for the opportunity to work with the great community on Lopez.
Lukas Peter, Detective
Lukas Peter joined the Sheriff’s Office in May of 2013 as a Deputy Sheriff on Lopez Island. "I couldn’t believe my good fortune; to be paid to patrol the beautiful island by car and bicycle, interacting with the many wonderful people who live, work, and play on the island." During his time in patrol, he became a firearms instructor and joined the marine unit.
Peter joined the detective division in 2017. He is trained in collision and crime scene investigation, digital evidence collection and internet crimes, and child abuse interviewing. "I enjoy good working relationships with other law enforcement entities outside the county, as well as with our own prosecutor’s office and social services within the county."
On days off, Peter loves hiking and biking, exploring outer islands, and spending time with family and friends.
Sam Fowler, Deputy
Sam started his law enforcement career in 2015 as a Reserve Deputy for the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. In 2017 Sam was hired full-time as a Patrol Deputy and worked on Orcas Island until the winter of 2022 when he relocated to Lopez Island. Born and raised on Lopez, Sam was only too happy for the opportunity to transfer back to the island he calls home.
Sam is also one of the county’s Field Training Officers and is in the process of becoming the department’s Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) instructor. Sam is also a fire investigator and has attended numerous trainings, including Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE), instructor development, marine law enforcement training, traffic incident management, and completed the Emerging Leadership training series through the National Command and Staff College.
When not in pursuit of honing his craft as a Deputy and Volunteer Firefighter/EMT, Sam can be found working on projects around the house. He is thankful for the continued opportunity to work for and serve the island community he grew up in.
Walker VandenHazel, Deputy
Deputy Walker VandenHazel is a Patrol Deputy on Lopez Island. Walker has been part of the Sheriff’s Office team since 2020. Since attending and graduating from the law enforcement academy during the height of Covid-19, Walker has received in-depth training for marine operations and animal control. He enjoys being involved at the Lopez Island School and regularly attends the sporting events.
Previous to San Juan County, Walker worked in juvenile detention for Thurston County and Lewis County. He was also a teacher for a GED program. Walker played collegiate football in southern California. On the offensive line, he was responsible for protecting the quarterback. Now he is harnessing that protective ability and applying it towards our fellow community members.
Justin Merrifield, Deputy
After graduating from Lopez Island High School in 2015, Justin joined the United States Air Force, where he spent six years on active duty, then transitioned into the Air Force Reserves in 2021. Since graduating high school, Justin has also obtained an associate’s degree in Air Transportation from the Community College of the Air Force, graduated from Airmen Leadership School and Noncommissioned Officer Academy through the Air Force, and is currently studying for his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from American Military University. He also graduated from the Washington State Fire Training Academy in Fall 2021 and holds various firefighting certifications.
When Justin isn’t working or training for the Sheriff’s Office and the Fire Department, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, working on his truck, scuba diving, and traveling the world. He is grateful for the opportunity to work for and further serve the community where he grew up.