Community

Trenary solicits public input through 'Coffee with the Sheriff'

Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary speaks with Arnie Aljets and other area residents at Vinacio Coffee in Marysville on Feb. 5. - Kirk Boxleitner
Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary speaks with Arnie Aljets and other area residents at Vinacio Coffee in Marysville on Feb. 5.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary's visit to Marysville on Wednesday, Feb. 5, had a slightly sparser attendance than the community gathering in Stanwood on Saturday, Jan. 25, which kicked off his "Coffee with the Sheriff" series of meet-and-greets, but however many members of the public turn out, Trenary wants to ensure that they have access to their sheriff.

"There were about 50 people in Stanwood, but I used to be the chief of police there," Trenary said, while sharing cups of Vinacio Coffee with citizens in Marysville that Wednesday morning. "It also helps to hold these events during the weekends, we've found."

Throughout his career in law enforcement, Trenary has witnessed the value of connecting with the community, which he's sought to continue doing as sheriff.

"Law enforcement is retooling to be even more community-oriented," Trenary said. "Police precincts should be full-service stations and one-stop shops, where citizens can go to get things like weapons permits without having to go to the courthouse."

While Trenary doubts he'll do another series of four "Coffee with the Sheriff" meetings within two weeks, he'd like to maintain a pace of one a month, so that he can continue to solicit input from community members about how local law enforcement can best serve them.

"What I'm hearing from people is that they want more access, and more services at their precincts instead of just at the courthouses, and increased patrol staffing in their areas," Trenary said. "They want that connection to the community too."

Trenary cited the Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force as an example of how local, county and federal law enforcement have partnered to accomplish the same goals, and touted Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith as a valuable partner in achieving those aims.

"Historically, it used to be the case that we did not do a good job of going after those who committed violent assaults and then absconded to another state," Trenary said. "But now, we're able to reach out and bring many of those people back here. It's not just the Marysville Police or the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, but everyone working together."

"Having the Sheriff's Office as a partner has been a force multiplier for our efforts," said Smith, who joined Trenary at his Marysville meeting. "We've been proactive in apprehending offenders and fugitives, and Ty has done a great job through difficult circumstances."

Trenary acknowledged that members of the public haven't hesitated to deliver their criticisms of local law enforcement to him, from their complaints about drug houses in their neighborhoods — "Snohomish County, like many other regions, is going through a heroin epidemic right now," Trenary said — to voicing their concerns over the number of deaths at the Snohomish County Jail since 2010, which reached nine on Jan. 13.

"We've pulled out all the stops at the jail," said Trenary, who had already been working to improve conditions and medical care at the jail, including placing limits on bookings for arrestees with serious health problems or mental illness. "We're canceling all 18 of our contracts with outside agencies to house their inmates. Too often, this jail has been used for those in need of detox or with mental health issues, when that's not what it's designed for."

That being said, Trenary remains neutral on US HealthVest's plans to establish a 75-bed psychiatric hospital in Smokey Point, declining any comment until he can further study their proposal, whose Certificate of Need application was recently approved by the state Department of Health.

"What's most important for me to do is listen," Trenary said. "When I started this 'Coffee with the Sheriff' series, I thought I'd mostly be briefing people on what the Sheriff's Office has been up to recently, but I've been spending more time hearing from individual folks, as they tell their stories and ask for our help. If they're unhappy with our service, I need to know about it. It's important that they have access to their sheriff."

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