Washington State Patrol troopers are not just on the highways anymore, but in communities helping citizens fight crime.
Troopers in the Spokane region are embracing the idea of community oriented policing, and they have the approval of their chief.
During a Wednesday visit to Spokane, WSP Chief Annette Sandberg said community-based policing fits her policy of reaching out to citizens.
Sandberg, 33, was appointed chief two months ago in a shakeup of top-level patrol staff and is the first woman to hold the post.
She said she’s shifted more decision-making power to regional commanders. In Spokane, troopers are participating in local efforts to get citizens involved in public safety.
“We have a lot of citizens over here. We have a lot of troopers over here. We have to pay attention to what their needs are,” Sandberg said in a meeting with editors of The Spokesman-Review.
Lt. Bruce Walker, who is assigned to the Spokane office, said troopers are now likely to be seen at community events, and commanders are serving as volunteers in the planning of community-based programs.
For example, Walker sits on the county’s Secret Witness board and a task force that studies community-oriented policing.
The state patrol’s primary duty is patrolling state highways, but the agency also supports local law enforcement in criminal investigations.
That support extends to the movement to involve individuals and neighborhoods in law enforcement, Sandberg said.
Sandberg, a native of Moses Lake, served 11 years on the patrol force, achieving the rank of lieutenant. She left the patrol last year after earning a law degree from the University of Puget Sound. She took law classes in her off-duty hours.
She was appointed chief by Gov. Mike Lowry in April. At the time, she was the attorney for the Troopers’ Association.
Sandberg first joined the patrol in 1983 after graduating from Central Washington University. She also has a master’s degree in business.
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