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Goal behind Police Dept. model change is consistency

SNOHOMISH — Police Chief Keith Rogers would like to slow the “revolving door” among patrol officers at the department.
The City Council agrees. It would give the city some familiar faces who stick around.
The annual deputy changes aren’t under the chief’s control. A wider sheriff’s office model allows patrol deputies to bid once a year for new assignments across the county.
The way to stop it, Rogers has pitched, is to reclassify the Police Department to pull it out of the general assignment pool. Instead, the chief would personally select each of Snohomish’s patrol deputies and, as part of union rules, they’d receive a 3 percent specialty bonus tied to how the department would be reclassified. The commitments are verbal.
Altering its sheriff’s office contract to include the bonuses will cost Snohomish an extra $42,000 a year in 2020 and 2021.
City Council members unanimously supported the idea last week. It would revive the idea of a true hometown police department, with officers you recognize on the street, council members said. The council will take a formal vote at a future date.
“I can’t put a price tag on how important it is to have those relationships,” Council President Jason Sanders said. “We have a community here and we’ll want to have people who fit here.”
Having familiar officers is a primary goal in community policing, Rogers said in an interview.
Retaining officers also would help rebuild institutional knowledge lost to retirements and transfers, and could open the door to creating more department programs, Rogers said.
Under the “job-bid” model, the one Rogers would like to remove his department from, deputies bid on where they want to go. They bid on the location, the hours, and the shifts. Assignments are granted by seniority.
Among 12 patrol deputies, Rogers had about half leave for other assignments last year.
Worse, in his first year, prior Chief John Flood faced an 80 percent turnover among patrol officers.
It takes about six months to get a deputy acquainted with the ins and outs of Snohomish, Rogers estimates.
About one-third of the department’s deputies live in the Snohomish area, Rogers said.
Councilman Tom Merrill called having to constantly train new arrivals a “distraction” to managing the department.
The department has 18 commissioned deputies. The four non-patrol officers are essentially appointed, including Rogers himself. Two more department members are civilians.
Deputy George Perillo, who joined in 1993, was the last of the old guard officers before the sheriff’s office contract began in 2012; this spring, Perillo took a job in Paine Field’s police squad.
Perillo’s exit leaves police records manager Julie Kostelecky, who works as a civilian, as the last department employee prior to when the city police department was disbanded in favor of a sheriff’s office contract. The then-controversial change was to save money during the Great Recession.
The special classification that uses a bonus is also used fo the police departments in Granite Falls, Darrington and other smaller cities contracting for police services with the sheriff’s office, Rogers said in an interview.
The change could occur Feb. 1, pending City Council approval.
Flood moved up in rank to be a sheriff’s office captain in 2017 and vacated his chief’s position. He sat in at last week’s council meeting and received warm salutations.
Rogers, a sheriff’s office lieutenant, said he’d like to stay at the department as long as he can.
Each chief is under assignment orders from the sheriff’s office.
Practically everyone in former Chief John Turner’s police force found jobs in the sheriff’s office: Snohomish Cmdr. A.J. Bryant is today a high-level watch commander lieutenant for the sheriff’s office; Turner’s other commander, Fred Havener, didn’t transition to the new sheriff’s office-run Snohomish Police Department.
Two Snohomish Police detectives, who took down 11 drug dealers in a home-grown undercover sting in 2011, also moved elsewhere within the sheriff’s office when the changeover made finding new stomping grounds much easier.

 

  

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