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Police chief unveils new plan for department

MARYSVILLE With an emphasis on preparing for the upcoming annexation of some 20,000 new residents, Police Chief Rick Smith last week unveiled a detailed "business plan" for his department.

The lengthy, detailed document covers everything from staffing goals to deployments to possible expansion of the city jail.

Smith's department currently consists of 83 employees, including 53 sworn officers, 11 custody officers and 13 civilian workers. However, with the annexation of the city's Urban Growth Area north of Marysville's current boundaries, Smith sees a need for some 23 new additional employees by 2010 at the latest.

That number includes 11 new patrol officers Smith wants ready to patrol the substantial acreage of the annexation area that is criss-crossed by 67.6 miles of roads. Department predictions see calls for service jumping by some 25 percent.

Not incidentally, calls reaching police already have been rising steadily, according to Smith. Marysville officers received roughly 67,000 calls for service last year, with estimates putting the number at around 71,000 by the end of 2008. Finding officers to deal with all those calls seems to be much on Smith's mind, but he and others said there is some good news for the city in that regard.

The department currently has eight vacancies among the patrol ranks. Smith said various applicants are in various stages of hiring. But Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said Marysville suddenly has become a popular department for which to work. Much to the satisfaction of police and city officials, the result is a marked increase in seasoned police officers looking to come to Marysville. Once they are hired, Smith and others said such officers could be out patrolling city streets much more quickly than rookie patrol officers fresh from the academy.

Further, city Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson noted so-called lateral transfers could save the city millions of dollars in training costs. In any case, once new officers hit the streets, Smith and others are aiming for clear and revamped areas of responsibility for those police.

For example, Lamoureux talked about expanding what he called community service officers beyond the current two. For some time, those officers dealt primarily with animal control and parking enforcement. But officials have expanded the duties of those officers to include what were termed "cold criminal cases," basically instances where a crime already has taken place. Instead of taking police out of routine patrol, the community service officers now will go and investigate such "cold cases," taking reports and so on.

Still hitting on deployment issues, Smith talked about several other possible initiatives, all at least partially aimed at keeping patrol officers on patrol.

For example, Smith has plans to possibly name three to five officers along with a sergeant to deal with what he called neighborhood livability issues. Those officers would respond immediately to routine calls for service. Further, night traffic cars would concentrate on handling DUI's and traffic citations. Smith mentioned creating "power shifts" during times of high call volume.

Regarding the city jail, Cmdr. Ralph Krusey said the number of persons booked into the facility increased from roughly 3,700 to 4,300 in the last year. Projections show that figure reaching 5,100 by end of 2008.

"They're just swamped," Krusey said of the city's custody division. Adding to the city's problem in that regard is an impending drying up of available county jail space. Swenson said an expanded jail could become part of the city's previously announced plans for a comprehensive municipal center, plans that currently are under study.

During his presentation, made to City Council, Smith touched briefly on the city's most up-to-date crime statistics. While he noted some numbers have increased, Smith said most of those jumps are due to the city's annexation of the Sunnyside neighborhood.

Among his concerns were the increases in car theft, most of which happen along the I-5 corridor. Smith said police are formulating ways of dealing with that growing problem, adding a new crime analyst expected to be hired soon could help police target hot spots.

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