Based on its two-part series on the Bainbridge Island Police Department, the Seattle Times has now penned an editorial: Rethinking law enforcement options on Bainbridge Island.
Their prescription? A department review from the ground up. More police training, especially in crisis intervention. And while we’re at it, we should think about outsourcing the police department to the Kitsap County Sheriff.
It seems a little odd for a newspaper across the water to write a couple of articles and then give us advice about our police department. Their ideas aren’t any more creative than those we’ve heard from local citizens for years.
Rumors and complaints about police conduct have been circulating widely on Bainbridge for a long time. No government official, past or present, can take credit for doing the right thing. One former council member, who was quoted by the Times about his lack of trust in the police, held office for a decade and did no more than anyone else to bring the problems to the front burner.
The shame of all of this is that it took the death of a human being for City Hall to take notice of the problems that have been simmering for years.
But this is an island problem, and it will be solved by islanders. I hope we are not too hasty in jumping to conclusions, but instead, take a deliberative approach, neither accusatory, nor defensive, but diligent and thoughtful.
Although we should consider all our options, I don’t think we have enough facts to decide that outsourcing the cops is the right answer. I do think hiring an expert in policing matters would be money well spent. These articles highlight some longstanding problems, the sources of which are still unclear. But they will likely provoke real conversation and possibility for change.