Blogger’s Note: This is the third installment of the “Cops in ’08″ series, chronicling local law enforcement agencies’ accomplishments in 2007 as well as their goals in 2008.
To put it mildly, the Bremerton Police Department is in a time of vast change.
New programs, from the installation of red-light cameras around town to using more proactive and targeted law enforcement techniques, are underway. The department has been working to change laws through a newly enacted city ordinance which aims to work more closely with — and penalize if necessary — owners of problem city properties. Even their appearance is changing: they have a new building, new cars, new badges and will soon have new uniforms.
Craig Rogers, Bremerton’s Police chief, uses two buzz words to describe the department’s current ongoings: “change,” and “value based.”
“We have been able to make significant changes not only in our appearance but also in our organizational structure and in the way we provide law enforcement services to the community,” Rogers said. “Having the opportunity to lead change has been exciting and rewarding.”
Rogers has certainly had his work cut out for him. With an almost $10 million annual budget and nearly 70 law enforcement officers, Bremerton Police is the second largest police agency in the county behind the sheriff’s office.
Perhaps the only blow to momentum in the midst of the sweeping change was the discovery in late 2006 of about $46,000 in thefts from the property room. An officer is still on administrative leave and may face criminal charges from the incident, and an FBI investigation is pending.
However, even that situation has brought about change: the thefts occurred in the department’s former, dilapidated headquarters, and the department’s new location, off Burwell Street, provides vastly improved security and protocol for its property room.
Bremerton PD is a department of many facets: its patrol, composed of at least five officers and a sergeant, works in a city that seems to have annexations around every corner that will expand its patrol area. The investigations unit keeps busy in a city known for having one of the state’s highest per capita violent crime rates. Drug and vice problems are tackled by Bremerton’s own Special Operations Group, which can work without having to respond to 911 calls.
Here’s Rogers’ take on the rest of the changes that will continue to take place in 2008:
The Photo Enforcement project is moving ahead and scheduled to be operational in March. The survey was completed with higher numbers of violations than expected. The Department will be presenting public safety announcements as we get closer to implementation. Lt. (Pete) Fisher is managing this project.
Focused Policing and pro-active enforcement:
In June of 2006 the Department began directing its resources towards focused policing and initiating pro-active enforcement events when staffing levels allowed. Issues we have addressed involve speeding vehicle complaints, cross walk complaints, car prowls, wanted persons, neighborhood crime prevention and graffiti. We have been evaluating this policing strategy and have had positive results. We have conducted 20 pro-active events which resulted in: 173 Notices of infractions; 56 Criminal traffic arrests or citation; 5 Felony Warrants; 45 Misdemeanor Warrants; 14 Felony Arrests; 23 Misdemeanor Arrests; 6 Sex Offender Contacts and address verifications; 99 criminals booked into jail.
Officers also developed information that resulted in solving other outstanding crimes.
Focused policing is a matter of solving problems vs. simply responding to them. In other words instead of reacting to crime, we want to put more emphasis on getting out ahead of crime by collecting information by using mapping, incident reports, crime tips, information and intelligence gathering and putting this information into a format that we can make actionable decisions. We want to place more emphasis on spotting crime trends, identify repeat offenders, locate problem areas and create action plans. We develop Action Plans that give information, state the mission and give an after action report. In 2008 we will continue working on the ability to deploy officers more effectively and maximizing our resources. Our goal is to move forward in a positive team oriented direction. We will take what we have learned during the last half of 2007 into next year and redefine or operational responses, develop action plans as an organized response to an identified problem area.
Patrol Sergeant William Endicott has taken on this project and has done an excellent job in coordinating the events.
Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance:
Well over a year ago Neighborhood Watch Captains met to address ways to solve problems in their neighborhoods. A Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance was proposed and during this past year Community Resource Specialist Andrew Oakley teamed up with Block Watch Captains Karen Danis and Judy McDonald and the ordinance was drafted and passed by City Council on January 16th. This is a good example of developing community partnerships to address City and neighborhood issues. This ordinance is a tool that triggers communication between a person responsible for property and the City, in order to abate a nuisance condition. It is intended to provide property owners with the motivation to work with neighbors and the City to resolve issues and promote livability within the community.
COPS Technology Grant:
In 2007 we applied for a for a COPS Technology Program Grant that allows public safety agencies to enhance the sharing of information and improving data and voice interoperability between public safety organization in our region. A proposal was submitted that includes MCTs for all first responders and wireless data applications. The grant was awarded last September for 2.7 million. We were the only region in the state to receive this award and only 1 of 37 in the country. Phyllis Mann, Director of Department of Emergency Management, Tim Sholtis of Bremerton Police Department and John Sprague of the Sheriffs office developed the proposal. Public safety agencies will be working together in 2008 to meet our goals and objectives.
Aside from these projects, Rogers said locals can look forward to the department being completely “black and white” with regard to the color of their patrol cars (the whole fleet should be that color scheme by 2010). Officers have already put on their new badges, which bear the Norm Dicks Government Center on their center, and will soon have new uniforms as well.