News

City’s hiring spree gains speed

By JACINDA HOWARD

The Mirror

Federal Way is beginning to see increases in public safety — in the form of a domestic violence prosecuting attorney and six new police officers — stemming from Proposition One.

The measure, which raised utility taxes from 6 percent to 7.75 percent, passed at the polls last November. The money gathered from the tax increase will be used to fund additional public safety in the city.

Plans to hire a domestic violence prosecuting attorney and 18 police officers were included in the proposition, among other things.

Heidi Brosius began employment with Federal Way as a domestic violence prosecuting attorney on March 5. Josh McConnell, Joell Giger, Kris Durell, Chris Fulton, David Prince and Joseph Meshkoff are the city’s new entry-level police officers.

Brosius has eight years of experience as a prosecuting attorney and has served as a legal extern at Walt Disney Pictures and Television. She was hired to assist the city in aggressively addressing domestic violence. She only handles cases involving domestic violence between intimate partners. This is the first opportunity she has received to apply her legal efforts in a specific concentration.

“Domestic violence is one of the areas I have liked to place an emphasis on due to the nature of the crime,” Brosius said.

Brosius is serving as prosecuting attorney for about 100 active cases, some pending from as far back as 2004.

Domestic violence cases are labor intensive because a lot of detailed facts are involved — and the longer it takes to prosecute, the harder it is to find witnesses, said city attorney Pat Richardson.

With her previous employer, Brosius was required to travel frequently. Working in Federal Way “enables me to better review cases, get a handle on them and figure out what I need for court,” she said.

Since her arrival, Brosius has succeeded in prosecuting one person with a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor. She expects a similar charge will clear court by April 30. Sometimes in domestic violence cases, details that allow for a criminal to be charged with a felony are overlooked, she said. It’s a matter of paying closer attention to the case and paperwork, she said.

Police officers

So far the city has hired six police officers — all entry-level with no previous law enforcement experience, said Melanie McAllester, Federal Way Police Department administrative commander.

With the exception of Meshkoff, who is currently in the military, all began employment between April 3 and 17. Meshkoff plans to join the police force May 1.

Also, a conditional offer has been made to one person, whom the department wishes to remain unnamed until all necessary testing has been completed. This person is expected to join the force by May 17, McAllester said.

Durell, Fulton and Prince are the city’s newest officers, hired April 17.

Although all the officers are on the payroll, they are not yet commissioned because they have not attended the police academy. This means they are unable to assist in the field.

Instead, the officers help at the station. One collaborates with the crime prevention specialist. Another marks abandoned vehicles. Some help with filing paperwork or completing computer work. They will continue to do such jobs until they can be sent to the academy, McAllester said.

Arrangements for eight Federal Way officers to attend the academy in August 2007 have been made. However, this plan is not guaranteed, McAllester said. The state does not provide enough funding to commission officers in a timely manner, she said. The dates in which the officers may attend the academy could change depending on if the state provides more money, she said.

Despite being unable to send its officers to the police academy, the city continues to seek new officers to fill the 13 vacancies created by Proposition One.

The end result of adding the new officers and Brosius is a chance to join together as one team to provide more public safety to the community and prosecute criminals faster.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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