Why retaining experienced officers matters.
We’re a little short staffed today so we have three specialty unit sergeants helping to cover patrol shifts. They bring with them decades of experience and trained eyes that only comes with years of experience.
While patrolling the mall parking lot this afternoon, our Traffic Unit Sergeant filling in on patrol spotted a vehicle with…
✅ No license plates
✅ Paper temporary tag in the window
✅ Damage to the vehicle
While this may seem like nothing, organized retail thieves and shoplifters often use stolen vehicles and or vehicles with the license plates removed along with fake temporary tags in the window that they then drive to and from stores. The vehicles are oftentimes damaged from their hasty getaways thus giving us the hat-trick of no plates, paper tag and damage.
In this case, the sergeant’s intuition proved to be correct. The vehicle’s owner a 28-year-old female from Lakewood was wanted in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties for multiple Theft 3rd warrants, a Hit & Run warrant and a Delivery of Drug Paraphernalia warrant. She returned to the vehicle at which time she was contacted by officers and taken into custody. She is being booked into jail on the warrants. The vehicle was impounded by the financial institution that holds the title to it. The merchandise was returned to the stores.
Having an adequate number of experienced officers in a department allows new officers to be trained to see that which they would otherwise not observe. Most veteran officers have spent years establishing relationships with the community, businesses and community leaders which in tense and stressful situations can make the difference in how a situation is handled and the ultimate outcome. Veteran officers are able to impart their years of training, wisdom and experience on rookie officers to help them better understand and serve the community they have been serving for years, recognize things that are out of the ordinary that would not otherwise be noted and so much more.
Per a recent University of Washington study, 48% of officers in Washington State are eligible for retirement beginning in 2022. Washington State is currently ranked 51st out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for the number of officers per thousand people at 1.19 per thousand people. Reports of assaults on officers is up 67% since 2016, homicides up 66.9% and fraud related crime is up 131%.