Brentwood Press: What challenges does your department face as the city grows?
Chief Mark Evenson: Anytime a city grows, crime will grow as well. Fortunately, we aren't seeing a big growth in violent crimes like murder, armed robbery, etc., but car burglaries, vandalism and minor thefts have been growing.
BP: How can those crimes be controlled?
Evenson: We have a tough-on-crime philosophy, and criminals quickly find out Brentwood isn't a place where they want to commit a crime. We've just recently reorganized the department to get and keep more officers on the streets as well as reduce their paperwork duties. The physical presence of officers is one of the best ways to control crime.
BP: Are there crime hot spots in Brentwood like we hear about in other cities?
Evenson: No. We haven't seen that kind of concentrated activity. Problems are pretty generally spread out around the city, but we do focus on places where past experience has told us to remain watchful.
BP: How can citizens help the department?
Evenson: Well, first of all, they need to tell us when something doesn't look right to them. People often don't call in to tell us about something because they don't want to bother us. We're here to be bothered when something needs to be brought to our attention. We'll never blame anyone for calling us, even if it turns out everything is OK. Second, we need feedback from citizens in order to improve our operation.
BP: We hear in the news about police brutality and bad treatment of citizens in other jurisdictions. What's your take on this?
Evenson: We want to provide good customer service. Everyone needs to be treated with respect and in a professional manner. (Note: Chief Evenson initiated a Citizen Complaint form to be used in instances where a citizen believes a department employee has engaged in unprofessional behavior. The form is available at the police building's lobby desk at 9100 Brentwood Blvd.)
BP: Is Brentwood experiencing crime overflow from nearby cities?
Evenson: There is some of that, but we don't see a large influx of activity from other locations. We are aggressive when it comes to catching people who come here to break the law.
BP: What department changes do you plan on making?
Evenson: We've talked a bit about reorganization and we'll need to add sworn officers and other employees as the city continues to grow. We have three sworn officer positions that we're trying to fill right now. We will be adding to our investigative and traffic units in the future and we want to establish a Crime Impact Team of four officers, led by a sergeant, who will focus on specific issues and areas that need attention. These officers will be free to work wherever they are needed without interruption. Something else that's happening is the redesign of our Web site that now has much improved information. In 60 to 90 days we will have an online reporting system up and running.
BP: Is the city giving you what you need to function properly?
Evenson: Absolutely. The city has been very good about supporting our department. Our city manager (Donna Landeros) is awesome - probably the best I've ever worked with, and the City Council is committed to helping us protect our community.
BP: You came from the Seattle Police Department, where you rose in the ranks to captain. What did you think of Brentwood's police force when you took over?
Evenson: This is a great police department and the past chiefs deserve a great deal of credit. The quality of people is excellent and they really care about Brentwood. Most of them actually live here, as I do, so they take it very hard when someone gets victimized. They go above and beyond to keep this city a great place to live in. If there is any one thing we need to do better, it's become more accessible to our citizens.
BP: Will we ever get our own police dispatch operation and not need to depend on Antioch?
Evenson: I think that may happen, maybe three years down the road. We're doing some studies right now to determine how practical that might be and how best to proceed. It's going to be a big-ticket item.
BP: There was talk of having the CHP take an office in the Brentwood Police Department's building. Has that happened, and if so, how is it working out?
Evenson: They are here and it's working out great. We work very closely together. What most people aren't aware of is the fact that we also have a juvenile probation officer, a part-time county prosecutor and the REACH program represented right here in the building. And speaking of the building, this facility has been a real treat for our people. We have room to grow and our officers genuinely appreciate the people of Brentwood stepping up to provide this building.
BP: You and your wife must be pretty well settled now that you've been on the job for about 10 months. How do you like living in Brentwood?
Evenson: Debi and I both love it here. It's a great place to live and the people are just incredible.