Hermiston’s police department will soon have two full-time detectives on duty.

Acting Chief Jason Edmiston told the city’s Public Safety Committee earlier this week that officer Jimmy Allen will begin work as a full-time property detective on Dec. 1.

The department created the position in response to an rise in property crime in Hermiston, which is on pace to increase by as much as 16 percent this year.

“Property crime will be his primary focus,” Edmiston said, “but it doesn’t mean he won’t be working on other things.”

The department’s other detective, Bill Osborne, concentrates on “personal” crime. Osborne recently served as the lead investigator on a homicide case in Hermiston, leading to the apprehension of the suspect roughly 32 hours after it occurred.

Edmiston also said the Hermiston PD is currently working with the Kennewick, Wash., Police Department to learn about its successful Crime Apprehension Team.

Kennewick’s CAT is described as “a proactive arrest team that works nights and is normally dressed in plain clothes and drives unmarked police vehicles. CAT’s primary objectives are the reduction and or elimination of: Criminal Gang Activity, Criminal Narcotic Activity and Target Crimes such as car prowls, burglaries and auto thefts.”

Edmiston said the Hermiston PD’s goal is to develop a similar program that would utilize its two detectives in a similar manner.

“Our future plans are for our detectives to go out one or two nights a month in a proactive manner,” Edmiston said. The detectives would “look for people and criminals we know are out there.”

Other topics presented by Edmiston to the safety committee included:

• Officer Will Jons recently attended a meeting in the Tri-Cities dealing with gang issues. Jons told Edmiston that law enforcement officials there were “elated” to have an Oregon presence at the meeting, and Edmiston said Hermiston will continue to attend the meetings. Edmiston said one of the department’s 2012 goals includes improving gang-resistance efforts.

• A report that Hermiston will continue to attempt to improve inter-agency relationships and cooperation. Edmiston pointed to the recent arrest of a homicide suspect as a good step in the right direction. “We need to improve on that, but we’re getting there,” Edmiston said. “It will be slow and steady.” Edmiston also said he’s met with other agencies to explain Hermiston’s parameters and policies.

• An outline of a new scheduling policy for officers and sergeants. Department members will rotate different shifts and will be able to negotiate “shift trades” to accommodate family issues. “It’s something we haven’t done for the last 10 years,” Edmiston said. “We’ll try it and see what happens.”

• A new policy that will see code enforcement officer Kelly Parsons be sworn in as a full officer. Parsons worked 14 years as an officer in Walla Walla, and will not have to undergo extensive training to obtain certification in Oregon. He will devote part of his time now as a regular officer during the day and will also maintain his code enforcement duties. “It will be a cost-effective move for the city,” Edmiston said.

• A report that the chaplain program is up and running with pastor Terry Cummings on board. Cummings has already been on three calls with department officers.

• An update on the Christmas Express program.

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