A temporary street crime unit has been so successful this summer, Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston wants to use it as a replacement for the gang intervention officer position in the city.

Edmiston created the gang intervention officer, filled by Will Jons, in January 2012 as part of an initiative to suppress gang activity in the area.

After utilizing the street crime team, comprised of Jons and Patrol Officer Joyce Wright, this summer, Edmiston said he wants to make the gang officer position part of the team’s identity. The department’s new approach is to be proactive in solving a variety of crimes, including those linked with gang activity.

“They did some good things and were able to have some positive impact,” Edmiston said of the team this summer. “That visibility is what I’m after.”

Edmiston said the gang intervention detective will be reclassified as a street crime officer. The position will remain filled by Jons.

Edmiston is currently taking applications from within the department for a second officer.

“I’m hopeful we’ll have this hammered down by Oct. 1 and implemented,” Edmiston said. “We’ll have a two-person dedicated unit targeting … abhorrent behavior.”

While the crime unit will assist patrol officers when needed, such as in the cases of extreme emergencies, they will not respond to calls for service as patrol officers do, which will free them up to solve more cases.

“I want (offenders) to know that this team is out there, is going to be extremely proactive, is going to be very aggressive, all the while staying within the rules and the laws,” Edmiston said.

Edmiston said although the department will not have a specific gang intervention officer, suppressing gang activity will still be a police department priority.

“We’ll still have a focus, an emphasis, on gang activity, but I really see this as an extension of patrol,” he said.

While the department detectives work under Administrative Capt. Travis Eynon, Edmiston said the street team will be a part of police operations and, therefore, under the direction of Operations Capt. Darryl Johnson.

“They’ll truly be an extension of the patrol officers,” Edmiston said.

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