Sam Fowler is a sixth generation Lopezian and Orcas Island’s newest sheriff’s deputy.
“He really impressed me during the interview. … His answers were all just spot on with everything we’re looking for,” said San Juan County Sheriff Ron Krebs. “He’s a very intelligent kid with an amazing work ethic – that kid works hard. He’s got a very upbeat, very positive attitude – always has a smile on his face. Just one of those guys who’s very approachable and I think will fit in very well.”
Fowler is stationed to Orcas rather than his home island of Lopez to get some experience under his belt, explained Krebs. Fowler said he thought, “This is going to be really weird” about moving to Orcas.
“Your roads are all really curvy,” he said. “You’re either going up a hill or around a corner, which is totally different because Lopez is really flat. I’ve really enjoyed it. We’ve got a really good group of guys working here. It’s fun and I’m learning a lot. It’s nice to be able to see the new scenery.”
Born and raised on a Lopez farm, Fowler said he knows 90 percent of that island’s population. He moved to Bellevue before his senior year and graduated from the city’s high school in 2012. Deciding that city life wasn’t for him, he moved back to Lopez, where he got a job with Aeronautical Services.
Unsure of whether he truly wanted to be a police officer, Fowler took earned the reserve certification through the criminal justice training commission. Additionally, he performed field training operation allowing him to perform deputy duties on his own.
Fowler started his law enforcement career as a reserve officer on Lopez in 2016 after completing training. He then began working for the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in May as a full-time temporary reserve deputy on Orcas while another officer was out on medical leave. He graduated from the police academy on July 19.
Prior to his move from Lopez, Fowler volunteered as a firefighter and emergency medical technician. He earned his firefighting certifications, as well as being a trained wildland firefighting and EMT.
“I was really thinking that that’s what I wanted to do. I really enjoyed that work. … I was really into that.” Fowler said. “I really got along well with the guys on Lopez.”
It was volunteering for Lopez Fire that started Fowler’s interest in being a sheriff’s deputy. He said that on Lopez, the fire department assisted the deputies because there are just a sergeant and two deputies on the island.
“A couple of times we were paged out as the fire department to help law enforcement,” Fowler said. “(I thought,) ‘this is just ridiculous that we don’t have something in place to be able to help them when they need it.’”
Helping people is Fowler’s goal. He was nervous transitioning from a firefighter and EMT to being a deputy because of the reactions each career gets from the public. When a firefighter or EMT shows up to a call, it’s usually to a positive reception — but that’s not always the case for a police officer, he said.
“I didn’t know how it was going to work in law enforcement. When you get called, people aren’t always happy to see you,” Fowler said. “I figured out it was just another way to help people.”
When he’s not on duty, Fowler enjoys hiking, kayaking and diving. He owns an equipment rental and repair shop on Lopez that keeps him busy as well. Someday he hopes to return to Lopez, where he is building a house and has his business, but for now, he’s content with serving as a deputy on Orcas, where he’s also a volunteer for Orcas Island Fire and Rescue.
“I really enjoy being involved in the community. I’m doing everything I can to give back,” Fowler said. “I don’t think I’d want to do this job anywhere else. It’s really a unique opportunity out here. There’s a lot of support from the community for the police officers.”