This is the third entry in a weekly column about reporter
Ethan Fowler’s participation in the Bainbridge Island Police
Department’s 10-week Citizens’ Police Academy.
Senior Police Clerk Barbara Seitz said her four plus years
working at the Bainbridge Island P.D. has proven the “most
interesting, engaging and fun” job she has ever held.
Seitz was one of three people who spoke at last Tuesday’s third
class in the Citizens’ Police Academy. She was followed by
Bainbridge Fire Marshall Luke Carpenter and psychologist Dr. Ted
Rosenbaum closed the night by talking about the programs in place
to help officers and firefighters cope with some of the grim sights
they see as part of their work.
Seitz told the group she daily helps an average of 20 people who
visit the police station. Concealed weapon permits, copies of
incident reports, finger printing and dog licenses are some of
things she handles.
Paper record retention ranges from five years for driving while
license suspended arrests, 10 years for driving while intoxicated,
50 years for traffic fatalities and 75 years for missing person
cases. Files that are saved electronically are never deleted, which
helps officers in the field when they view a person’s
Sexual offenses or allegations, mental health and cases still
under investigation are some of the incident reports that aren’t
released to media outlets when people like me compile the weekly
Carpenter said Bainbridge firefighters are all trained as
emergency medical technicians and that each firefighter is required
to take training classes for the rest of his career each
Station 21 on Madison Avenue always has a minimum staff of at
least four firefighters, Station 22 on Bucklin Hill Road has two
people on staff always and Station 23 on Phelps Road isn’t staffed.
However, Station 23 is where Carpenter works from and it’s also
where they assign firefighters when they have extra staff from
the other two stations.
The Bainbridge Fire Department receives about 2,500 calls for
service annually. These range from building fires to
cat-in-the-tree calls. Carpenter said the department does hire some
of its full-time staff from its volunteer resident program, which
are provided with living accommodations and guaranteed shift
He said a volunteer from Olympia is able to pull off the long
commute because firefighters work 48-hour shifts but then are off
the next four days.
“It doesn’t happen often when we can sleep at night,” Carpenter
said of a work shift.
The fire department treats about 12-16 heart attack victims a
Within 90 seconds of being alerted by dispatch about an
emergency, firefighters try to have tires on the road. The average
response time for the Bainbridge Fire Department is 6 1/2 minutes
and “we like to be lower than that,” Carpenter added.
He suggested for homeowners to come by one of the island’s fire
stations to get a blue and white reflective sign to help increase
address visibility. The police department also provides the signs,
Officer Carla Silas said.
With not a lot of time left in the scheduled two-hour class,
Rosenbaum quickly went through a PowerPoint presentation on how
they screen police applicants. They seek future officers who are
dominant and not domineering.
“You want someone who can take control without being badge
heavy,” Rosenbaum said. “People not too rigid of right and
Applicants typically require 3-4 hours of writing for
one of his tests. People who try to list themselves “too
positively” tends to make his “radar” go up, Rosenbaum said.
Combating stress or strain is a key factor for both the
well-being of police and fire staff, both of which Rosenbaum works
for on the island. Responders who have long-term effects from
stress often have declining work performance, deteriorating family
relationships, increased health problems and other issues.
To help defuse a stressful or unsettling emergency call,
Rosenbaum said within 24 hours of the incident he will discuss
concerns that an officer or firefighter may have. The formal
process of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing helps to reduce the
amount of time a responder needs to recover. However, with a
catastrophe like Sept. 11, 2001, such steps likely won’t be
“There’s not as much stigma as there used to be with these
meetings,” said Rosenbaum, who also works with spouses of emergency
Next: Our class will learn about the municipal
court process with new Bainbridge Island Municipal Court Judge Sara
L. McCulloch, who took her oath of office in December.