Cops in ’08: Poulsbo Focuses on Positions

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. This second installment chronicles the Poulsbo Police Department.

Poulsbo Police Chief Dennis Swiney is just four months into his post, but has big plans for Little Norway’s police department.

The agency has endured much transition and some turbulence this past year. Veteran chief Jeff Doran retired. Former Detective Grant Romaine was fired after a lengthy internal investigation. There were even talks of eliminating the department and contracting law enforcement for Poulsbo through the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

The city council has also funded a deputy chief position, so Swiney, the former lawman from Visalia, will have a second-in-command.

Bottom line: the department has some serious hiring to do — and that means Swiney will shape the agency he will lead beyond his leadership philosophy.

“Positions are so critical to an organization,” he said by phone Tuesday.

The department is the smallest non-tribal police agency in Kitsap County, with 20 full-time employees and a budget of just under $2 million.

Swiney said he’s been doing “a lot of reading, a lot of contacting people,” and ultimately, “a lot of listening,” as he gets to know the department. He has already decided to look into the needs of the investigations division — Romaine was the sole detective, and the agency was the only one in the county to have only one person in that division — to see if more officers are needed there.

For now longtime Poulsbo cop Stacey Smaaladen has been working as both officer and detective to fill the vacant void before the permanent replacement is selected. Swiney notes that Officer John Halsted is continuing to provide Poulsbo’s presence on the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement team, Kitsap’s drug task force.

Another of the new chief’s goals is to earn state accreditation, which was lost some time ago.

He said Poulsbo officers are also monitoring closely the new HOV lanes through town, and as far as crime fighting, they’re looking at areas and patterns where they can emphasize their efforts.

“We have very qualified and capable individuals here,” Swiney said. “What’s nice is we can grow and build on that.”

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