Pullman, WSU PD target vandalism, drug issues in Pullman community

Extra patrols on campus hope to cause decline in vandalism, new WA bill makes drug arrests easier



Pullman PD considered creating the officer wellness app for the past few years but could not fund the project until recently.


With Pullman seeing an uptick in crimes within the community and on the WSU campus, the police departments are looking to take new safety actions in hopes of a decline 

WSU Police Chief Gary Jenkins said vandalism is the crime most reported on campus, beating out other crimes including assault and theft.

In the spring semester, there were 90 reported cases of vandalism, and in fall 2022 there were 92 reported cases, Jenkins said. The spring 2022 semester saw 60 and the fall 2021 semester saw 52 cases, so there has been an almost 50 percent increase in vandalism in the past year. 

The vandalism reports include damage to exit signs, fire extinguishers and lights in residence halls, he said.

While vandalism cases are reaching triple digits, cases of theft have only hit 30 reported cases each semester and assaults usually range in the single digits or early teens each semester, he said.

“Everything else really doesn’t cause us a lot of concern. It’s mostly the vandalism that has become an issue,” Jenkins said. 

To solve this issue, WSU PD has already added extra patrols on campus, particularly when residence halls are vacated, he said.  

It is slightly easier during the summer months because students usually do not have access to residence halls, Jenkins said. But, once school starts up, people are going in and out of the buildings and can easily pretend they are with someone who has a key card. 

Jenkins said the police department is going to try to send out messages at the beginning of the fall semester about these issues and try to enlist the support of the students on campus. 

“This is their home while they’re here and this is their house,” he said. “It’s just Cougs looking after Cougs and everyone protecting their home while they’re here.”

While vandalism is one of the main issues on the WSU campus, other issues are still floating through the Pullman community. 

Aaron Breshears, Pullman Police Patrol Cmdr, said drugs such as fentanyl, methamphetamine and others were criminalized and then decriminalized.

Breshears said Pullman has also seen an uptick in vehicle prowls in the last few years. Vehicle prowling is the theft of property from a motor vehicle.

“Those vehicle prowls, in my opinion, are directly attributed to the drug problem,” he said. “Most of those are from people trying to get money in any way they can to buy more heroin or fentanyl or methamphetamine. If we can start to attack the drug problem, that will have an impact on other property crimes such as vehicle prowling.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill criminalizing these drugs again, beginning in August, Breshears said. 

All of the drugs that were previously illegal would be illegal again, and while the classifications for the arrest are different for some drugs, officers can still make the arrest for possession, he said. 

“We hope that giving officers tools and the ability to make arrests will dramatically help reduce some of these overdoses and negative impacts that this kind of fentanyl free-for-all has had on our community,” he said. 

Breshears said it will not be difficult to make those arrests because it is common to come into contact with those drugs.

It used to be difficult to make prosecutions because a third referral was needed before an arrest was made, but that third referral is no longer required, making it so a physical arrest can take place immediately and the drugs can be seized right then and there, he said. 

“It’s not going to solve the problem completely, but it gives us a tool to help knock it back so that it doesn’t continue to be out of control,” he said.