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Snohomish Police Department to gain outreach officer

SNOHOMISH — The Police Department is poised to welcome a community outreach deputy as it says goodbye to its only K-9 handler and dog team.
Police Chief Keith Rogers appeared at the Jan. 9 Public Safety Commission meeting and the Jan. 16 City Council meeting to garner support for his vision of an increasingly progressive police department. That vision includes installing a deputy focused on community engagement and outreach.
Rogers said he had an opportunity to weigh his options recently when K-9 handler Matt Boice was transferred back to patrol duty elsewhere in the sheriff’s office. Boice’s last day as a K-9 handler will be Jan. 27. The plan is for Ace, the city’s only K-9, to be sold to a local police department; Rogers is exploring sale options for the highly trained tracking dog.
Rogers’s research showed that the city only conducted an average of five tracking operations annually. Since the county sheriff’s office makes its own K-9s available to the city at no additional cost, Rogers could redirect the $135,000 the city’s K-9 program costs to a new outreach oriented deputy.
Rogers said the new deputy role could free up about $10,000 in department staff costs that can go toward other purposes. The extra money could be used for outreach efforts, afterhours meetings or services.
“The Deputy chosen for this position will work directly with the citizens of the City of Snohomish. Our goal is to further the mission of providing safe communities, by improving community engagement along with increased community outreach efforts with homelessness and the opioid epidemic,” Rogers said in an email.
The exact job profile is still in the conceptual stage according to Rogers, but is influenced by work done by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office’s (SCSO) Office of Neighborhoods.
Homeless outreach is one key function for the Office of Neighborhoods.
“The goal is to foster long-term relationships and break the cycle of homelessness, mental health, and chemical dependency in our
county,” according to the sheriff’s office’s website. Through outreach, officers help connect homeless people with services, facilitating housing, drug treatment and counseling for those most in need.
The Monroe and Everett police departments have similar in-house outreach teams that pair up with social workers to get people help.
The Office of Neighborhoods also manages a neighborhood block watch program, as well as events such as National Night Out, and a home-bound resident outreach effort.
By hiring its own community outreach deputy, the Snohomish Police Department will gain direct access to the planed criminal justice diversion pilot program.
The pilot program aims to reduce opioid addiction and recidivism by helping individuals who are homeless, drug-addicted
or dealing with mental illness immediately receive services that might otherwise take weeks or months to access.
There is no start date set for the new deputy. Rogers said the candidate would be chosen internally through the sheriff’s office and in accordance with its current labor contracts.
Both the City Council and the city’s all-volunteer Public Safety Commission expressed support for Rogers’s plan at their latest meetings.

 

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