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Promotions mark revamping of police dept.
MARYSVILLE Structurally, we have to be sound and we were not, said Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith prior to last weeks swearing-in ceremony for five freshly promoted officers.
In rearranging the command structure of his department, Smith said his biggest goal was to change Marysville police from a reactive to a proactive force. He also talked about issues such as bringing increased accountability to the department, allowing his commanders to get out into the field more and increasing opportunities for professional development and training throughout the department.
Besides revamping the command structure, the city now has its first crime analyst, another move Smith said clearly was meant to make the department more responsive. He said the new analyst will provide statistics, help identify trends and provide police with other means to better target department resources.
Almost since he arrived in February of last year, Smith has talked about realigning the department, mostly in anticipation of the city annexing its Urban Growth Area and adding some 20,000 new residents.
Mayor Dennis Kendall said he expects annexation to arrive sometime in 2009 and, with that in mind, whole-heartedly backed the revamping of the city police.
I think its absolutely something we needed to do, he said.
While Smith said repeatedly the recent promotions were key, he isnt done in terms of realigning city safety forces.
We still have an assessment to do in terms of deployment and redeployment of our officers, Smith said.
He added commanders and others are in the process of gathering numbers and statistics from every part of the department. He expects to have a finished study in hand by the middle or end of February.
At present, the Marysville Police Department consists of 53 sworn officers. Those numbers now include two commanders, two lieutenants and nine sergeants. Previously, the department had more commanders, but Smith said they were completing tasks he doesnt think of as command work and, just as importantly, were simply being overworked.
They were just buried, he added.
With the changes, Smith hopes his new commanders can interact more with the public, meeting with community groups, block watches and so on.
With future growth in mind, Smith isnt sure how many more officers might be needed down the road.
Our hope is to staff up prior to annexation, Smith said, adding the issue extends beyond possibly stocking up on patrol officers. The city will need, he said, to look at record keeping, jail staff and so on.
New command level officials actually began their rearranged duties in December and earlier this month. Last weeks swearing-in during the regular scheduled City Council meeting was largely ceremonial. The evening included lots of picture taking, with the family and friends of those being promoted swelling the Council Chambers.
In the first round of promotions completed Dec. 11, Jeff Goldman, an 18-year veteran of the force, moved up to the rank of lieutenant. Goldman twice has been named Marysvilles police officer of the year.
Also in December, officers Larry Buell with 11 years and Brad Akau with 13 years, were sworn in as patrol sergeants. Buell was born and raised in Marysville and spent four years as a detective investigating crimes against children.
While introducing Akau, Goldman joked about the new sergeants obvious physical fitness. Goldman insisted hes watched Akau rip phone books in half.
Akau joined the Marysville police force in 1993.
On Jan. 2, 17-year department veteran Darrin Rasmussen became the citys second police lieutenant. According to city spokesman Doug Buell, Rasmussen will oversee and develop a professional standards unit within the department, oversee internal affairs and coordinate maintaining the departments various accreditations, a task he already had begun to complete on his own.
Rasmussen is the husband of City Council member Carmen Rasmussen.
Also in January, Mark Thomas became another of the departments newest sergeants. Thomas has been with the force for 16 years and was one of the citys first bike patrol officers.
Finally, after five years with the city jail, custody officer James Strickland was promoted to Custody Sergeant.
When I came to Marysville about nine months ago, I said how excited I was to be here, Smith said. I am even more excited now about where our department and city are headed. Annexation and growth are going to open up more opportunities for promotion within the department.
Besides the promotions, Smith has overseen some physical restructuring of police headquarters.
We had to take a look at some of our open space, Smith said.