UPDATE: Cops in ’08: Port Orchard on the Grow

Blogger’s Note: This is the fourth installment (and final city agency) of the “Cops in ’08” series, chronicling local law enforcement agencies’ accomplishments in 2007 as well as their goals in 2008.

For this installment, I am going to let the responses of Al Townsend, Port Orchard Police Chief, speak for themselves.

UPDATE: Aside from this interview, Townsend told me Feb. 26 that the department has hired its new police commander. Geoff Marti, from the Lincoln (Nebraska) Police Department, will join the force March 17. Marti, who has 27 years’ experience, is also from the department where Townsend first worked.

Josh: Where do you think your agency stands now?

Al: We have an excellent police agency that provides some of the highest clearance rates, quickest response times to calls, and some of the highest filing rates for cases in the county. We have a very professional group of officers and staff that I am proud to work with.

Unfortunately we also are in the top 10 most violent crimes per capita in the state. Being a small community this number can be affected substantially by even small problem areas. We have tracked a great deal of this to our bar issues in the downtown core. We are working hard to resolve that and get our city off that “top 10 list.”

Josh: What enforcement emphasis will POPD focus on? (e.g. Traffic, burglaries, ect.?)

Al: One of the biggest complaints we hear from citizens is regarding traffic issues. We will continue to work diligently on those concerns with the resources we have. Our top priority will be to rectify the issues of violent crimes and a zero tolerance for illegal
activity as it relates to problem bars.

Josh: Will there be new hires this year? If so, how many? And what positions?

Al: We will be filling the police commander position after it became vacant at years end. I am in the process of recruiting some outstanding candidates for that position. This position is critical in meeting our goals of 2008. In addition to that, if annexation of
McCormick Woods occurs, we will be adding 2 additional police officer positions this year. We have two other officers that are considering other career options at this time; one to the FBI and one to another municipal law enforcement agency. If they ultimately make the decision to leave, we will fill those positions as well.

Al: Will there be cuts?

Josh: There are no cuts expected in staffing or in the level of service that we provide. In addition, if we add McCormick Woods to the city, we will then add a dedicated traffic enforcement officer.

Josh: Will any new specialized positions be created?

Al: As our city grows it is important that we continue to provide the levels of service that our citizens expect. As such, we plan to add a tracking canine to our services in late 2008. We will have to rely on community donations for the cost of the dog and the
training for the dog and the handler. No handler has been chosen as of yet.

Josh: What is exciting about the possibilities 2008 holds?

Al:I believe the most exciting things that are coming are the new city council and mayor and their interest in the growth of the city both in commercial and residential areas. They clearly share a vision of growth while preserving the charm of our small community and providing a level of service to its citizens and visitors that is second to none. In addition to our growth, I look forward to bringing on a new police commander to handle a lot of the day to day operations of the department to allow me to focus on new projects and programs and to provide me with additional time to interact with our community.

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