Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson Monday released a report summarizing the results of an outside Edmonds Police Department audit conducted by Center for Public Safety Management, LLC.
“Taking active steps to modernize our police department is a priority that benefits the entire community,” Nelson said. “This audit was one step to identify where we are already successful and what areas could be improved.”
With newly appointed Edmonds Police Chief Michelle Bennett leading the department, “we are well positioned to move forward with the recommendations,” the mayor added.
It a Monday news release, the city summarized the audit’s key findings and recommendations as follows:
- The department should continue enhancing recruitment efforts including ensuring that salary compensation for police officers remains comparable to neighboring jurisdictions, maintaining a robust online recruitment presence, and a focus on strategies to hire female officers who are underrepresented in the department.
- In virtually all police studies conducted by Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM), lack of communication is cited as a major organizational impediment. CPSM recommends the new police chief work on improving the department’s communication both up and down in the department.
- There should be a body-worn camera program for officers in the EPD.
- The department should give clear direction to sergeants about what violations should be forwarded as an internal complaint investigation and what violations should be referred for counseling.
- CPSM recommends that uses of force resulting in counseling or coaching be documented, and an explanation as to why the counseling or coaching was necessary.
- The department should track all informal complaints and analyze them to ensure inappropriate officer behavior is monitored and not overlooked.
“I appreciate the great work conducted by the CPSM auditors focused on our Edmonds Police Department,” Bennett said. “As the auditor states in the full report, we have an amazing department filled with dedicated and professional officers. There were some great suggestions posed in the audit, of which the majority we will work hard to complete. In the last six months, our department has already made great strides towards meeting many of the important recommendations. It’s always good to have an outside view as to what we as a police department can do more effectively or efficiently. We look forward to continuing this important work.”
Bennett reviewed the audit report and has responded with initial items to be implemented or already under consideration based on the CPSM recommendations. Some of these items include:
- Develop a five-year strategic plan for the EPD starting in 2022
- After developing policy, negotiating with the union, and negotiating with the Body Camera company, body cameras are part of the 2022 budget requests and are scheduled for the pilot program to begin October 1st, 2021
- Research the feasibility of extending the hours of the Records Unit for better public access
- Document use of force counseling and coaching via the purchase of IA Pro/Blue Team software (specialized software for public service agencies)
- Continue to focus recruitment strategies on hiring females (and BIPOC), who are under-represented in the department
- Bring back the Citizen’s Police Academy and begin having classes twice a year under the job description of the newly hired Community Engagement Specialist
According to the CPSM report, “these recommendations are intended to form the basis of a long-term improvement plan for the city and department. It is important that we emphasize that this list of recommendations, though lengthy, is common in our operational assessments of agencies around the country.”