(Editor's note: City Councilwoman Denise McCluskeyprovided University Place Patch with her "State Of The City" address, which is also available on the city's website and UPTV. Patch is publishing the messages of McCluskey and Gerald Gehring today)
It is a priceless asset to be able to go for a walk in the city and feel safe. We certainly do and rightfully so, capriciously take for granted the tranquil nature of University Place. At this time, I would like to briefly talk to you about the behind the scenes people who risk their lives on a daily basis, so that we can enjoy this ease of mobility. They are your University Place Police. Let me begin their story with the hiring of our new Police Chief, Rusty Wilder.
Chief Wilder has 17 years' experience with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. He worked as a patrol and detachment sergeant, detective and deputy. Most recently, he was the head of the Peninsula Detachment before coming to U.P. as our Chief of Police. One of his passions is our children. Last January, I caught him behind a pizza counter. He was giving his free time to raise funds for our recreational programs for seniors and kids. This is only one example of Chief Wilder's community spirit for our town.
Chief Wilder does have his challenges with limited staff and call ratios. These challenges have established him as a great administrator with expert servant leadership skills. His department went from 25 officers down to a skeleton team of 15 officers. They work hard to leverage their limited manpower with community orientated policing and a strong partnership with their School Resource Officer (SRO). The SRO is one of the Police's strategic positions in our community to ensure public safety. A few weeks back, the relationship with the SRO did lead to arrests in a string of burglaries and robberies.
Our Police may not be able to be everywhere for nuisance and animal control but they will be there for the high risk crimes - you can bank on our Police Department. Our Police officers are U.P.'s finest treasures. However, with the reduction of staff, they are more at risk for injury. So please do your share in crime prevention so that our officers are more able to service high priority calls.
2010 closed with a newly formed U.P. Municipal Court that is located in Lakewood. Under the guidance of Judge Heller, we are now able to try our own cases, save money and have a convenient location for our citizens to handle their traffic tickets and misdemeanors. The parking is free.
In 2011, the Police will have a new 6000 ft. facility that will be located in the back of our new Civic Building. It will also house a holding cell and space for a new investigator. This move will allow our Fire Department the additional space that is needs for staff and the merger with the Lakewood Fire Department.
This year will be a pivotal year for our Public Safety Department. We will have our own court, an investigator and a new facility for our finest safety protectors. Our focus should not only fully support the underpinnings of a reactionary approach to law enforcement but also look for creative staffing models and growth to support crime suppression services that will include the engagement of our citizens.
So the next time that you take your next leisurely walk or casually go about your life's daily business feeling safe and confident, take a moment to personally thank one of our Police Officers for protecting your safe sanctuary, enabling you to enjoy the amenities of our city.