East County Guardian: Sue Shannon Helps Maintain Order in an Isolated Landscape

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Deputy Sue Shannon is hard to miss.

She is 6-foot-2, one of two female deputies who work in Lewis County and she carries bright pink handcuffs that stick out of her green uniform. While she has a contagious laugh and loves the jokes on Laffy Taffy wrappers, when it comes to investigating crime, Shannon is straight business.

The Mossyrock woman has carried out a number of duties throughout her 25-year career, including investigating narcotics and serving on a SWAT team until age 40. 

Now, she patrols the east end of Lewis County.

Shannon is one of a few deputies assigned to respond to calls from Ashford, Mossyrock, Mineral, Morton and Packwood — locations so isolated that cellphones and radios sometimes do not work.

“I like the outdoors,” she said. “I don’t fit with the desk.”

Shannon said she prefers to work the east end of the county versus the west end — the people are different and tend to operate on a calmer level.

 

Another thing that stands out about Shannon is her approach to the job and her interaction with the community.

On a rainy evening in April, as Shannon drove through the town of Mineral, people enthusiastically waved and greeted her as she passed them. A few people wanted to give her a hug when they saw her.

Because Shannon makes a point of getting to know people, and treats them in a patient and respectful manner, many people trust her. Due to that trust, people often pass her information they would not tell other deputies.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield, who has known Shannon for about two decades, said she shows amazing compassion in her work and is a caring individual. She is well respected and liked throughout the community and by her peers.

“Sue is the person you’d want by your side in a bad situation,” Mansfield said.

Due to those traits and qualities, earlier this year, the sheriff awarded Shannon the “Guardian Award” during the agency’s annual gathering.

“She just epitomizes what a true protector and guardian is,” Mansfield said.

By working in such a rural area, where often she is on her own, Shannon said communication skills are crucial in helping defuse bad situations.

The “gift of gab,” a calm tone of voice, and a pack of cigarettes can help calm and coax an agitated person on the brink of becoming dangerous, into being cooperative.

“That can save your butt better than a gun sometimes,” she said.

Another helpful asset, she said, is her pink handcuffs, which can help lighten a stressful and tense interaction.

“It makes people laugh — and that’s what I like,” she said. “It totally takes their mind off what’s going on.”

Also, she said, many people find humor in going to jail in pink handcuffs.

 

Shannon began her career at the Quincy Police Department after she saw a job ad in the local newspaper. After Quincy, she transferred to Centralia, then later to the sheriff’s office where she’s spent the majority of her career.

Prior to policing, Shannon served in the Coast Guard and played basketball at Gonzaga University where she got her bachelor’s of arts degree in criminal justice.

Shannon is one of two female deputies who worked patrol for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Stacy Brown, who is now the chief civil deputy for the agency, said Shannon was her field training officer when Brown started her career in law enforcement.

“She was just an amazing teacher,” Brown said. “She has probably shaped my career in ways she doesn’t even know — just by being herself.” 

One of Shannon’s strengths as deputy is her ability to talk with anyone from a logger to homemaker to suspect, Brown said. No matter who they are, she treats them with respect.

“I think she is an incredible person,” Brown said. “Our community is really lucky to have her.”

As Shannon approaches the final years of her career in law enforcement, she is currently studying meditation and yoga and hopes to become an instructor after she retires.

Law enforcement comes with a lot of stress and negativity that can seep into an officer’s personal life.

“You got to get it out,” she said. “You have to have an outlet.”