Pullman Police Chief requests additional commander

Jenkins says help will ensure timely training, internal review, reports



Mary Davis, National Vice President of the American Legion Auxiliary, distributes the American Legion Awards on Tuesday night at Pullman City Hall during the city council meeting.

RACHEL SUN, Evergreen Roots editor

The Pullman City Council moved Tuesday to authorize the creation of a Support Services Commander for the Pullman Police Department.

Police Chief Gary Jenkins said that he and Operations Commander Chris Tennant have been too overwhelmed to meet demands.

“Insufficient focus on this task has resulted in lapses and resulted on officers not meeting training requirements,” he said.

In other cases, force-use reviews have been backed up for months, he said.

Councilman Al Sorensen said he understood the need to create a position for another commander, but was concerned about overburdening current officers.

Currently, the department has five vacancies, Jenkins said, and is in the process of hiring more officers.

He said he understands the need to help officers avoid burnout, but the need for further administrative support could no longer be ignored.

Councilwoman Pat Wright noted the additional commander would be a new hire and not reduce the number of officers currently on the street.

Jenkins noted that the police guild expressed a preference for more patrol officers before another commander.

“I agree with their assessment that we need additional patrol officers,” he said. “I’ve recognized the need for the additional command level position for the past three years, but I did not bring it forward in favor of making all new positions patrol officer assignments.”

Jenkins said with the addition of another commander, he expects improved and timelier use of force reviews, internal investigations and police reports.

The council also moved to adjust the Police Commander salary to be on par with the fire operations commander. In other business, The American Legion awarded several service officers.

Firefighter and EMT Angela Teal was awarded EMT of the year, and firefighter Steve Potratz-Lee was awarded firefighter of the year.

Police detective Heidi Lambley was awarded outstanding local law enforcement of the year for her work uncovering the sexual abuse by Pullman Psychiatrist Dean Funabiki to one of his clients.

Three Pullman Police officers were also awarded the humanitarian and lifesaving award for helping save a man in need of medical treatment and bringing him to the hospital.

In the public hearing portion of the meeting, Pullman resident Brad Yusko said he has been trying unsuccessfully to get a building permit for his house for three years.

Yusko said city officials told him he needed an architect, but state law does not require him to seek an outside professional.