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New Poulsbo police chief thinks a restructure would make it more efficient

While some police departments nationwide are being defunded and losing officers, new Poulsbo Police Chief Ron Harding hopes to restructure his department to make it more efficient.

During a Poulsbo Public Safety/Legal Committee meeting, Harding made recommendations to eliminate the deputy chief position following Todd Grossman’s retirement at the end of November in favor of creating two lieutenant positions to handle operations and administration.

Doing that, “I feel would give me the opportunity to begin to rebuild a staffing structure and administrative structure to handle more effectively the growing responsibilities demanded of us in training, accountability and accreditation,” he said.

Harding also would like to hire a fourth sergeant to allow for more supervision of officers on duty.

“The biggest gap that I have identified in the department right now, that I think is a huge liability, is the percentage of unsupervised operational time that exists in our current structure,” Harding said.

The structure Harding is proposing is similar to one he left behind as a co-captain for the Redmond police department.

“Really it’s kind of projecting out over the next six or seven years the kind of growth that I think the city is going to experience. Along with that growth, I think it will be necessary to grow the department to keep up with our service levels,” Harding said. “In order for us to keep providing the level of service we do now and hopefully even improve it, the duties that currently exist for the deputy chief are just too many.”

Harding broke down what his model would look like.

“For the operational side, they would oversee directly all of the patrol sergeants as well as the investigations division (detectives). They would handle some of the operational duties, documenting training requirements, evaluating the sergeants, overseeing equipment purchasing, etc.,” Harding said.

“On the administrative side, that’s a lot of the record-keeping…overseeing training and training records and in a broad sense overseeing the big scopes of work like making sure we are in compliance with our public records requests. Everything that it takes to make the department run.”

Harding noted that the operations lieutenant would oversee field training in the next four years due to officer retirements.

“For a department our size that means we’re going to have to do a lot of recruiting and hiring in the next four years, and right now I would like to put that responsibility on one side of the house so that it’s more manageable,” Harding said.

If the City Council approves of the restructuring, it’s possible that the police department could have a new administrative lieutenant by January.

“It would be the city really making an assessment about public safety as a priority and then being able to find the funds to do that and with the economy down everyone is in the same situation where there’s just a financial gap. We would hopefully be able to implement this over a period of time as the economy recovers, but there may be some other creative solutions we could explore…,” Harding said.

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