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'Finders-keepers' further explained

The controversy surrounding the “finder’s keepers” ordinance recently passed by the Board of Island County Commissioners may stem from a misunderstanding, Chairman Mike Shelton said on Wednesday.

The ordinance, passed on Jan. 28, says that county employees who in the course of regular duties find lost items may keep them if they are unclaimed after 60 days, provided they properly turn over what they find to the Sheriff’s Department.

County Sheriff Mike Hawley, for one, said he was “outraged” by the ordinance.

Shelton, however, said he feels both the intent and the meaning of the ordinance has been misunderstood. First, he said that any employee who finds a lost item must go through the normal procedure of turning it over to the sheriff.

“It can be a felony if you find something and do not follow the process,” Shelton said.

Part of the intent of the ordinance, he added, was to discourage county workers from keeping what they find simply because turning it over would mean giving it up.

“One of the hopes that the board had is that if in fact county employees found anything of value, that would take any temptation away to not turn it in to the sheriff,” Shelton said.

What prompted the ordinance was the discovery of some money by an employee of the Camano Road Department, Shelton said. He declined to say how much money the employee fond. He added that, yes, the new ordinance will apply to that case, provided no one claims the money

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