October, 2019 – Welcome to our new Police Chief Tom Dalton! Chief Dalton was one of the original deputies assigned to Granite Falls when the first contract with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office went into effect, in 2014.
January, 2017 – Welcome to new Police Chief Christopher “Topher” Ferreira!
August 4, 2016 – We say goodbye to Chief Scott Robertson and hello to Chief Brian Fenske! Here is a photo of Sgts. Fenske, Robertson, and our former Chief Dave Bowman at this year’s National Night Out. Chief Fenske comes from the City of Snohomish, and will soon be wearing the local uniform.
Chief Scott Robertson: A Fond Farewell by Chief Robertson
Attached is a detailed and comprehensive report from Chief Scott Robertson regarding local crime. We encourage you to read it, and let the local deputies know how much we appreciate their efforts. Open the report by double clicking on the ‘GFPD August 2015 report’ below.
In the past 2 years, significant progress has been made by our entire community toward reducing criminal activity, and promoting public safety. Just a few examples include:
- Institution of Neighborhood Watch programs, and monthly community meetings with law enforcement
- The number of arrests and jail time has substantially increased, with the Mayor’s direction and City Council tripling the amount budgeted for jail time
- Direct community communication lines have been established with the NextDoor.com tool
- Large increase in calls reporting suspicious activity
- Recent major ‘sweep’ of suspected sites with illegal activity, thanks to a collaborative inter-agency effort spearheaded by Chief Robertson
- Granite Falls crime statistics are now reported daily and tracked through CrimeMapping.com
March 9, 2015: From the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:
GRANITE FALLS, Wash. – Sgt. Scott Robertson, who has a 20 year career in law enforcement, has been selected to serve as the Granite Falls Police Chief effective March 9, 2015. The previous chief, Sgt. Dave Bowman, remains on medical leave following an accident last October.
Robertson most recently served as chief of the Darrington Police Department. During his career, he has worked in a variety of units, including SWAT, Swift Water, Marine, Dive Team, Civil Disturbance, Chemical Agent Response Team, and Traffic. He has served as a Field Training Officer, Defensive Tactics Instructor, and Emergency Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Operator Instructor.
Robertson graduated from Central Washington University with a BA in Law and Justice in 1992. He started his law enforcement career with Clyde Hill Police Department in January 1993, and then worked for Kirkland Police Department from 1995 to 2000. Robertson joined the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in 2000. He was promoted to sergeant in 2013 and has taught criminal justice classes at Everett and Skagit Valley Community College.
The City of Granite Falls has contracted with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office for police services since 2014.
Board members from the Pilchuck Foundation were on hand with the public to welcome the new Sheriff deputies now serving as the Granite Falls Police Department. See the article below.
Meet Your New Law Enforcement Team
by Vervia Gabriel, Mountain Loop exPress Staff – Reprinted with permission
Community members and City staff attended an open house in the newly painted police station to welcome the Sheriff’s Department on March 21st. Mayor Josh Golston presided over the swearing-in ceremony, reading the oath to officially hire the new Granite Falls law enforcement team.
(L-R) The new law enforcement team – as described by Chief Bowman:
- Brandon Charboneau – Brandon is new to civilian law enforcement, but has a career in military security and law enforcement prior to SCSO. He is married and he and his wife are expecting a child in June. They live in the Granite Falls area.
- Scott Berg – Scott has experience in the schools when he was a Mukilteo police officer. He has since worked as a Sheriff’s Deputy, Sultan police officer (to include commercial vehicle enforcement) and now back at SCSO. Scott and I hired on at SCSO on the same day. We are excited to equip him to conduct weight and commercial vehicle inspection activity not only in Granite Falls, but in trade to other local jurisdictions.
- David Bowman – Chief Bowman has been in law enforcement for over 17 years. He and his family enjoy spending 24-30 days per year in the San Juan Islands on their boat, Great Escape.
- Tom Dalton – Tom is a transplant from Montana where he spent many years as a Deputy Sheriff in a remote county in the state
- Carol Bello – Carol is a long time Granite Falls resident who is also a master gardener. She has given talks at the library and participated in workshops on growing heirloom vegetables and member of the Growing Groceries Coalition. She has worked in Snohomish County Courts as well as the SCSO South Precinct.
- (NOT PICTURED) Ryan Boyer – Ryan was hired as a police officer in the City of Snohomish 6-7 years ago. He has an excellent world view of policing in a city environment. Since I’ve known him, he is an aggressive and well-mannered police officer, who has my complete trust. Ryan is a member of our Region 1 SWAT team – while this means he will be gone from his regular duties some, he will bring to the PD a heightened level of training and expertise in tactical response. Ryan and his family spend a lot of time camping together during the year.
Several members of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office attended the open house, including Bureau Chief Rachelle Heinzen, Captain Suzy Johnson and Lt. Kathi Lang, who represent Chief Bowman’s direct chain of command. Lt. AJ Bryant and Sgt. Dave Crandall were also in attendance. Chief Bowman noted, “Crandall and Bryant will watch over Granite Falls 24/7 if I’m gone.”
After the ceremony, Chief Bowman said, “The open house was great. I felt blessed by the number of people that were there. I hope the community could all see, and will continue to see, that my crew loves the work space they have to work in and will be good stewards of it.”
Bowman said the transition from Granite Falls Police to the Sheriff’s Department and the contract implementation presented some difficulties. He explained, “From dealing with the old PD employees who were facing uncertain employment, to bringing a completely new crew to work together for a common goal, to taking a long neglected work space and making it our own; it has been the single most difficult challenge of my working life.”
When asked if he felt good about being the Granite Falls Police Chief, Bowman answered, “I absolutely believe the GF job was the very best decision I could have made. I love the crew I have, the City staff I have, the elected officials I work with, the community leaders and community as a whole. Things will only get better, and we will only continue to go up from here. I have felt NOTHING but accepted and supported. This is a great community. If it could be a 10 minute commute for me it would be awesome!” (Chief Bowman lives in Mt. Vernon)
Impressed by the community, Bowman said, “What initially surprised me was the level of community support organizations in Granite Falls. Between the Community Coalition, Youth Coalition, Pilchuck Foundation, food bank, etc., there is so much here in Granite to work with, that we already have a team in place to combat many social ills.”
Bowman emphasized the outside support his team brings to Granite Falls saying, “I have great support from the Sheriff’s Office. That is a HUGE thing to remember in this contract. Granite Falls did not just contract to have Chief Bowman, 4 deputies, and ½ a secretary. Granite contracted for us, and with us comes the full resources of the Sheriff’s Office. If I need something important (like VHF radios to work up on the Mountain Loop Highway where our regular radios don’t work) I have a Sheriff’s Lieutenant to approve and a county shop to install the needed equipment. This is a small example that extends to every aspect of our work.”
The Police Station is already busy during their regular 9 to 5 hours. Serving as a Sheriff’s sub-station with a full time clerk, they can offer many “full police department services” never before available to residents of Granite Falls. “This includes requesting copies of police reports, fingerprinting, pistol transfers, and concealed weapons permits. We are also training on our equipment to provide operation ID for children, to ID them in the event they are ever missing. The Sheriff (and I) hope at some point to open up all full services to local unincorporated county residents as well, but that requires additional equipment, training, and possibly personnel, and we are not yet able to do that,” said Bowman.
“Residents are encouraged to call 911 immediately when they observe something which may be suspicious or criminal in nature, but can certainly come by the police department for assistance as well. If there is a black and white Sheriff’s car in front of the PD, I am there and I am usually available,” Bowman said.
Bowman said they plan to implement a neighborhood watch program and are working on crime prevention for the Mountain Loop trailhead areas. He will also have crime report data available at every City Council meeting to keep City officials and the community informed of law enforcement activities.
Sounds like we are in good hands with the Sheriffs!
March 1, 2014: The contract with Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office goes into effect. Welcome to our new deputies!
UPDATE: The Snohomish County Sheriff’s office has appointed Sgt. Dave Bowman as the acting police chief in Granite Falls, beginning January 13, 2014. Article in the Mountain Loop exPress.
There was an excellent article in the Mountain Loop exPress about the City Council’s final decision. An excerpt is reprinted here:
Police Voted Out As New City Leaders Are Sworn In
Before a large crowd, the Granite Falls City Council voted unanimously to enter into a contract with Snohomish County for law enforcement services starting in 2014. Emotions were strong as individual Council members thanked the police officers and apologized for having to make this tough decision.
Prior to the vote, Chief Don Lauer provided updated financial information on the proposed 2014 budget for the Granite Falls Police Department. His proposal was for a “Chief plus four officers” model and an agreement with the bargaining unit to use reserve officers to keep overtime hours as low as possible. Although making a strong case to maintain the local police department, Lauer asked the Council to consider their decision carefully and do what it best for the City.
Planning Commissioner Fred Cruger also addressed the Council to offer advice. Cruger said, “Please recognize that the budget for which you’re considering approval is not simply for “one year” — it is for the first year of the future of our City. Cast your vote, when it comes to difficult decisions like the police issue to be discussed, based on your insight into the impact it has on the financial security of the City for years to come. Do not vote based on emotion, or based on some concept of who might take credit for the final answer, or who might ascribe blame for the final answer, but rather base your vote on what you feel best ensures the future of the City. Much of the choice is about risk ‘mitigation’, and the fact that the downside risk (bankruptcy) may be far more dangerous than the upside advantages.”
Brent Kirk said he felt Chief Taylor did all he could to control the costs and they still exceeded the budget. He felt the contract with Snohomish County would stabilize the liability and get the general fund expenditures under control. The estimated monthly cost for the current police services in 2014 is $67,725. The estimated monthly cost for the proposed Snohomish County Contract is $45,453.
Sheriff Department representative, Division Chief Rob Beidler who had served as the Chief in Sultan, met with the Council in a work session the previous week to discuss the potential contract with Granite Falls. He said, “I am not here to debate this issue. The City needs to determine if the current model is sustainable or not. We have not contracted with a single city that could afford the level of service the citizens wanted.”
Sarah Davenport, in attendance for a contract approval, was asked to speak on the change from local police to Sheriffs in Sultan. Davenport said, “We had to stop the bleeding. The police department costs were eating up all the general funds. When the Sheriffs took over, we did not see any drop in service. We actually saw an increase, plus we had immediate replacements for injured officers.” Davenport stated, “I was not in favor in the beginning, but now I am a huge supporter of the Sheriffs. They hired all but two of the Sultan police officers and made sure the other sheriffs hired really wanted to work there.”
Councilman Matt Hartman could barely speak, stopping several times to reign in his emotions as he told Chief Lauer and the other officers in attendance that this was “an incredibly difficult decision.” Hartman said, “The police department is the heart and soul of a community, but I can’t vote with my heart. I must do what is best for the City. The safety of the people in the town is paramount and we must do whatever is necessary to keep the City financially solvent. We have an obligation to maintain other services in the City.” Hartman offered to give personal letters of recommendation to all officers and thanked those who were at the meeting for their service, as well as all who have served in the past. He saluted the Pilchuck Foundation for their efforts to save the police department.
After a careful analysis of the 2014 police budget provided that day by Chief Lauer, Mayor-elect, Josh Golston echoed Hartman. He said, “Emotionally, this is a very tough decision. We have our backs against the wall and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We have no Plan B. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.” Councilwoman Tess Greene thanked the police department through tears, saying, “I love you all.” Tom Fitzgerald, not in attendance at the meeting, sent a letter saying, “I believe it is in the best interest of the city to move to county services. It would be irresponsible to continue the drain on the city budget by not contracting with the county.”
The Council voted 5-0 to approve the contract with Snohomish County for Sheriff Services in Granite Falls starting March 1, 2014.
Mayor Saleem said he feels this is a win-win situation. He thanked all the officers for their commitment, saying they have done a “phenomenal job”. The Mayor commended Chief Lauer on his work in the role of Chief. He said, “I will do everything possible to help you find other jobs.”
Last year, the City considered contracting with the County for police services, but the Pilchuck Foundation supported the Police Department’s recommendation for further belt-tightening and minimal staffing in order to keep a City police force.
Everyone involved knew there was significant risk, since there was no financial safety net to protect us from major vehicle losses, extended officer illness, or other potential budgetary disasters. The City chose to take the risk in an effort to maintain City-owned police services.
Virtually everything unforeseeable that could go wrong has gone wrong, and the Police Department finds itself over budget in 2013, due to personnel costs.
After reviewing the city’s draft budgets and consulting with other City staff involved in budget planning, Police Chief Dennis Taylor now believes the best course of action is to contract with the County for city police services. To do otherwise would jeopardize the City’s entire financial solvency.
He made this recommendation knowing it might mean our local police department would be dismantled, but without such a drastic change the City of Granite Falls could quickly reach a state of dis-incorporation.
The Pilchuck Foundation has strongly supported both the principles and the practices that Chief Taylor has brought to the department and to his position as Police Chief. After reviewing the most recent budget figures, and our own conversations with city staff and elected officials, the Pilchuck Foundation acknowledges the wisdom of Chief Dennis Taylor’s budget recommendation, and will support it, should the City pursue contracting with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. We do encourage the City to negotiate will be for a comparable level of service, and for retaining several of the department’s best officers, including the volunteer reserve officers.
Below are questions we’ve received as people realize the likelihood of the City again pursuing contracting. Please feel free to contact any of our board members with additional questions.
Q: Couldn’t the ‘We Pledge Our Support’ fundraising campaign help with the budget problems?
A: The ‘We Pledge Our Support’ campaign was started last year to raise money for unfunded equipment, technology and training needs of the Granite Falls Police Department. The Pilchuck Foundation did provide new equipment to the police department, including an FBI approved biometric fingerprint scanner, a field laptop, and a new child identification card machine.
As the Mayor and City Council are aware, the City and the Foundation are forbidden from using donated or pledged funds to pay for any personnel issues, such as the ones that are largely responsible for the department being over-budget.
Grants from the Foundation were in no way part of the 2013 Budget or built-in expectations.
Q: If contracting takes place, what will happen to the Pilchuck Foundation?
A: The Pilchuck Foundation was created to provide local citizens the opportunity to enhance the capabilities of Granite Falls public safety organizations, primarily Fire and Police Departments. Given the economic strain on the City budget, the Foundation chose to focus initially on the Police Department, as the City struggled to achieve a viable 2013 plan. Our mission stays the same, no matter what jurisdiction oversees local law enforcement.
Q: If contracting takes place, what happens to the monthly donations made to the ‘We Pledge Our Support’ campaign?
A: While the Foundation remains committed to public safety, we realize that donors may feel that contracting with the County does not justify continued donation on their part. So we want to acknowledge that each donor has a personal obligation to examine their own priorities, and each has our support in choosing to:
1) continue your pledge donation, allowing the Foundation Board to administer the funds toward public safety, or;
2) continue your donations, stipulating how your donation is to be used (local law enforcement, fire department, or scholarships),or;
3) discontinue your donation, with our full understanding and thanks for your help.
As of this writing, we don’t know what the City’s ultimate decision will be, or when that decision will take place. If the City does contract with the County, it’s likely that won’t take effect until at least early Spring, 2014. We respectfully ask our donors to delay any decisions until the City has pursued and signed a contract with the County.
Q: How can I help support public safety in Granite Falls?
A: You can also make online donations safely and securely from our website. If you prefer, you can mail us your donation to P.O. Box 1337, Granite Falls, WA 98252.