The Olympia Police Department’s strategic plan was part of a city council study session Tuesday. Chief Ronnie Roberts led a presentation on the new plan that provides a set of guiding principles for the next five years.
The plan has been in the works since May 2014 and outlines goals for community engagement, tailoring resources to fit the community’s needs, career development for employees, consistency in performance and accountability, effective use of technology, and effective communication in the department.
An ongoing goal for the department is to earn and build public trust, Roberts said.
“We are part of this community,” he said Tuesday. “We want to be embedded in this community.”
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Lt. Paul Lower said the department is striving for more interactions and conversations that dispel stereotypes of police. Some relationship-building tools include a possible citizens academy to show the public what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer, for example, or to increase the department’s presence on social media outlets such as Twitter and Instagram.
Lower said a recent success in this area was the holiday scavenger hunt dubbed Where’s Melnic?, which was conducted in cooperation with businesses in downtown Olympia.
In other highlights, Jail Manager Chandra Brady said the department has been working to limit the number of “frequent fliers” — people who have repeated interactions with police — to free up more jail beds for those committing nuisance crimes downtown.
Laura Wohl, the department’s administrative services manager, spoke of the increasingly crucial role technology plays in policing. She noted the future implementation of body cameras and digital radios, and how the department is training to become proficient in the latest technologies related to record management, for example.
Sgt. Rich Allen touched on the stringent hiring process for new police officers that includes a 120-day application period followed by a five-month police academy. Allen noted that 30 new officers have been hired since 2011, and an upcoming priority for the department will include training that promotes fair and impartial policing.
“We all have biases, and we need to recognize those and give our officers techniques and tools to not only mitigate them,” Allen said, “but to overcome them.”