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Lateral transfers save money, help staff police department

MARYSVILLE In the last two months, the city's police department has hired five new officers.

By the end of July, they may well bring in another filling the last vacant spot in the city's patrol force.

Those new hires and the lack of vacancies are bits of good news in and of themselves, according to Cmdr. Ralph Krusey, police public information officer.

But what really makes the new hires special is that all were lateral transfers. In other words, they are experienced police officers who left other departments to come and work in Marysville. What that means is the city saves significant time and money in training those officers.

According to Krusey, rookie officers are put through a 16-week training program before they are allowed to hit the streets on their own. That time is on top of the 16 months they spend in the police academy.

In most cases, in order to grab the best recruits, Krusey said the city signs candidates in which they are interested even before they enter the academy. The city also pays about $40,000 to send the recruits to school, which lasts 16 months.

To sum up, fresh police recruits are a city expense well over a year before they can provide police patrols on their own.

With lateral transfers, those officers can be out by themselves in 12 weeks. They spend that period learning the lay out of Marysville streets, local laws and, if needed, state laws.

Speaking at a recent City Council meeting, Chief Administrator Mary Swenson said transferred officers are also simply more effective than rookie police. The transfers are ready, as she put it, "to go and try to change the world," much more quickly than police fresh from the academy.

"I can't remember the last time we had a fully staffed police department," Swenson added.

Including the possible new arrival at the end of the month, the department will have 53 commissioned officers.

Krusey did not want to identify specific departments from which new Marysville officers have arrived. He did say they have come from Snohomish and Skagit counties, as well from out of state and from a state law enforcement agency.

Why has Marysville become a magnet for lateral transfers? Krusey had several answers.

"There's been a lot of changes," he said.

For starters, the department has a new chief. While Krusey didn't say so, Chief Rick Smith has spent plenty of his time in Marysville rearranging the top of the police administration. There have been numerous promotions and other changes, all of which Smith and other city officials have said were designed to improve department operations.

Krusey also mentioned Marysville is seen as a growing city. Arriving officers see chances for professional growth and promotions. Further, Krusey added Marysville has good equipment and good support from the city administration and City Council. Finally, the city offers lateral arrivals a $5,000 bonus paid over three years. While Krusey said that bonus is clearly an incentive, he doesn't think it's the most important factor.

"This is just a great place to work," he said, adding that in 10 years only two persons have left the Marysville department to go elsewhere. At the same time, two individuals who originally came to Marysville as interns have returned to the city after working for other departments. The city has, Krusey added, even turned down lateral transfers because they did not think those individuals were a good fit for the city.

"We have great people that work here," said Krusey, himself a nine-year veteran of the force. "We are a team."

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