Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Walla Walla Police Department sees new changes

The Walla Walla police department has seen some big changes over the last few months, foremost among them a newly constructed station and a newly hired chief of police.

Credit: cade beck

In 2009 local voters approved a bond allotting $11.5 million to the construction of a new police station at 54 E. Moore St. At 29,000 square feet, the station is over triple the size of the old police offices in City Hall. The department began moving into the station in February, and opened it officially for business on Friday, March 9.

The new facility has a host of new features, including several rooms designated specifically for interviewing subjects, kennels for the department’s K-9 unit, a locker room for securing evidence and a forensics lab.

“It’s already positively helped out,” said Police Officer Dan Lackey on the expansion. “We’ve been here for a little over a month and we’ve already used each interview room several times.”

At the old police headquarters, Lackey said, interviews occasionally had to be held in the lobby for lack of a better alternative, and the department’s sergeants all shared a single office. Now the department has enough space to host trainings and set aside offices for community outreach and volunteer programs like Crime Free Rental Housing. According to many in the department, the move has been long overdue.

“The old police department had been in service since 1908 . . . They were packed in to the hilt. The facility just didn’t work for the department anymore,” said recently hired Chief of Police Scott Bieber about the move.

Bieber, formerly a commander with the police department of Vancouver, Wash., was selected in February by City Manager Nabiel Shawa out of a pool of 70 applicants as a finalist for the soon-to-be-vacant position of police chief. After undergoing a rigorous interviewing and screening process with both city officials and community panels, Bieber was announced in February as the next Chief of Police.

Credit: cade beck

“It was really a pretty easy selection,” said Shawa. “Mr. Bieber stood out in every [interview]. It made the hiring process quite a snap.”

Bieber assumed the role on Monday, March 26, working in conjunction with former Chief of Police Chuck Fulton to ensure a smooth transition. Fulton retired on Saturday March 31, bringing an end to his 42 years of service with the department.

“[Chuck Fulton] wanted to see the building project completed; he was instrumental in it. This was a dream of his,” said Shawa on the retired chief’s involvement. The official move into the new station coincided with the switch from one chief to another, resulting in a dramatic change for the department––but a smooth one, according to Shawa.

“It all worked out. The building came in on time, it’s going to be under budget . . . The timing of the new chief of police worked out perfectly. It all came together,” he said.

As for future plans for the department, Bieber is looking to keep his options open.

“I don’t have any big plans right off the bat. I’m coming into an extremely well-operated police department . . . I’m going to be keeping my mind open and looking for opportunities to improve the things we do here,” he said.

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