MONTESANO — The Grays Harbor County commissioners on Monday recognized the pending retirement of Detective Sgt. Keith Fouts, the commander of the Grays Harbor Drug Task Force.
Fouts is retiring after 23 and a half years with the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office. His wife, Peggy, is the head of Grays Harbor Emergency Dispatch Center.
Sheriff Rick Scott said he has mixed emotions about seeing Fouts retire.
“We’re happy he gets to utilize the privilege of retirement, but we’re sad to see him go,” Scott said. “For people like Keith, for small feet, he made a big footprint.”
Fouts was hired as a deputy sheriff on Dec. 12, 1989, and was sworn in by then-sheriff Dennis Morrisette.
“It was shortly after that in 1992 that Deputy Fouts became a K-9 handler and he and his K-9 Tor went on to set the standard that we judge our modern K-9 programs by,” Scott said.
Fouts and Tor teamed up and captured more than 120 criminals, saved two lives before Tor’s retirement in January of 2000, the sheriff said. In 1996, Tor was even awarded the Meritorious Service Award for disarming a man wielding a knife, according to a Daily World article on the dog’s retirement. The blue and green medal is normally pinned on the uniform of the dog’s human partner. Unfortunately, Tor could never wear his medal, Fouts said, but he has displayed his courage and intelligence for years.
“They did a remarkable, remarkable job,” Scott said. “And I think he would agree with me that thus far in my career the best time I’ve had was chasing that dog through the woods for a number of years. Keith would probably tell you the same.”
In June of 1998, Fouts was promoted to sergeant and worked as a patrol supervisor for a period of time. He served on the dive team, was a SWAT team member for 10 years and worked in the firearms unit as an instructor and supervisor.
In 2005, Scott suggested that Fouts take over the Drug Task Force as sergeant.
“And he was a little bit skeptical at first, but I assured him it would be almost as fun as that K-9 assignment,” Scott said. “And Keith has served as Drug Task Force supervisor from 2005 to present and he has truly done a remarkable job in that assignment, as well.”
Besides booking bad guys for selling oxycotin and heroin and taking hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal drugs off the street, Fouts has gone into classrooms and helped the community understand the impacts of the drug culture on the Harbor. Fouts also helped lead the team that would go on to eradicate the domestic production of methamphetamine on the Harbor, as well, Scott pointed out.
“People like Keith come along once in a lifetime,” Scott said. “He’s been a tremendous asset to this department. He’s the first guy there when anybody in the agency needs anything personally or professionally and he’ll be the last guy to leave. He’ll be sorely missed.”
Fouts chose not to speak at the ceremony in the Commission Chamber Monday afternoon, merely waving to a packed audience of deputies and personnel from the Sheriff’s Office and posing with the commissioners as his wife snapped a photo.