Cops in ’08: Bainbridge Police as Public Speakers

Blogger’s Note: ‘Cops in ’08’ aims to give readers an insight into the plans of their local law enforcement agencies in 2008, as well as review how those agencies fared in 2007. The first installment chronicles the Bainbridge Island Police Department.

Bainbridge Island’s police department plans to do more this year than just policing.

The department is focusing in on “community involvement,” deputy chief Mark Duncan says, which includes going speaking at meetings, coordinating emergency management plans and creating neighborhood crime maps.

“I think we’re making significant progess,” Duncan said of those fronts.

Bainbridge has a low rate of violent crime, something the department of almost 30 commissioned officers is proud of, he said. But when violence does occur, the small department must ensure that officers are trained in specialized fields, such as crime scenes analysis.

And that means having a wide variety of officers. But the island’s force has been able to attract cops from all over the place, Duncan said.

Trevor Ziemba and Jeff Benkert were hired from the Los Angeles Police Department last year. Former Bremerton Detective Sue Shultz joined the department as a lieutenant in April 2007. And even Duncan himself, formerly the second-in-command at the Port Orchard Police Department, came to Bainbridge in 2006.

Duncan is also running the show right now as his boss, Chief Matt Haney, helms the vacant city administrator position temporarily.

Duncan said they’re able to attract talent because Bainbridge is “a nice place to live,” and a good place to raise a family.

The other big plan for Bainbridge Police in 2008 is to continue on the path toward a new police and courts facility. About $750,000 is budgeted toward the project in ’08, with another $3 million each for 2009 and 2010. The police department, near the ferry terminal, will be demolished to build the new structure, Duncan said.

Plans for a school resource officer, however, were cut out of the city’s budget.

Bainbridge continues to staff its Coast Guard-like boat frequently, hitting the waters often with officer Scott Weiss, a former detective there, at the helm.

One point of distinction on the island: there’s no “sergeants.” Bainbridge uses the next rank up in the police hierarchy – lieutenant – as the next rank from patrol officer. That’s done, Duncan said, because at a smaller department, supervisors are tasked with a wide variety of responsibilities, including internal affairs reviews.

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