During a quarter that saw his operations division commander arrested on a DUI charge and his detective division busy investigating a high-profile homicide, Mountlake Terrace Chief of Police Greg Wilson used his appearance at the May 1 City Council work/study session to focus on the positive: Crime so far this year in the city is low, the roads are safe and the police department continues to be proactive in protecting the citizens of Mountlake Terrace.
Wilson presented the department’s 2014 first quarter update to the council, citing statistics dealing with calls for service, traffic stops, infractions written, arrests made, and numerous other areas of police work in the city.
The statistics showed little change in the number of crimes committed in Mountlake Terrace during the first quarter of 2014 in comparison to similar periods in the previous three years. The report cited one murder in the city, the March 22 incident where Forest Jackson, 20, was found dead in an apartment from multiple stab wounds. The suspect in the case, Toby Jamyson Sauceda, is currently being held at the Snohomish County Jail awaiting trial for second-degree murder.
The report noted that Mountlake Terrace police made eight arrests for driving under the influence during the first quarter of the year. The arrest of Commander Don Duncan was not included in that total as Duncan’s Feb. 1 arrest was made by a Washington State Trooper and took place in Lake Stevens. Wilson made no mention of Duncan during the report, which came prior to a behind-closed-doors session where the chief informed councilmembers that Duncan was to be fired from his post the next day.
Wilson did share that the department recently received about 30 new tasers to be used out in the field. “Tasers have about a five-year lifespan and our tasers were about five-and-a-half years old, so they started to fall apart,” Wilson said.
The police department is a member of the Taser Assurance Plan (TAP), a law enforcement service program that insures and upgrades department tasers. “They outfitted our department with brand new tasers at a discounted price, as long as we signed up for this replacement reserve program,” Wilson explained. For a yearly fee, TAP warrantees all new tasers, supplies spare tasers for the department, and replaces all the department’s tasers every five years.
“It’s a cost-effective way and a financially smart way to deal with this equipment,” Wilson added.
While the Mountlake Terrace Police Department has enough tasers to equip every officer on the force, they are rarely used. “We may have two to five incidents per year that we have to utilize a taser,” Wilson stated. “First we try to get verbal compliance. Tasers are an option out there; it’s a very safe and effective way to get someone in control.”
Officers will test them before the start of each shift and fire them during yearly training exercises. “It sounds like we don’t use them that much, and it’s a lot of money that goes out for them, but I also look at it as risk management,” Wilson explained. “If you’re not going to use your taser, then what are you going to use? And you’re going to use something that causes much more injury to an individual.”
Wilson jokingly offered to demonstrate the weapon at the meeting, but no one volunteered to have the device deployed on them.
You can view the entire 2014 1st Quarter MLT Police Department Update here.
— By Doug Petrowski