When Washougal Police Officer Kyle Day arrived at work Friday, one of his priorities was to continue an investigation into an SUV break-in and four vehicle prowls in the Addy Loop area.
The incidents had occurred the previous morning.
During a ridealong with Day, he recommended area residents lock their homes and vehicles.
“A lot of crimes happen by opportunity,” he said. “If it’s locked, they don’t usually give it a lot of effort.”
Day, accompanied by K-9 Officer Ranger, drove through local residential areas, as well as “E” Street, downtown Washougal and the Port of Camas-Washougal Industrial Park/Steigerwald Commerce Center.
Patrolling the streets establishes a police presence and gives officers an opportunity to notice things that are out of the ordinary.
A day “at the office” can include checking the plates of vehicles that appear to be abandoned or are parked in “no parking” zones.
Area residents sometimes call the police department about nuisance cars or trucks that are parked for several days and nights in their neighborhood. Day and other officers are able to find out online if the vehicles have been stolen.
Sometimes the out of the ordinary items can be animals.
Day noticed an unleashed great dane located outside Building 16, in the industrial park. He confirmed the dog belonged to someone in the building that is leased by Ecological Land Services and DS Fabrication & Design.
The WPD received a call Friday afternoon about two “scruffy” men dropping off a bag of trash in Hathaway Park.
The illegally dumped items included a sewing machine.
“We receive some quality-of-life calls,” Day said. “Those crimes show a lack of respect for other people.”
Day has been with the WPD since 1997. He spent two years as a reserve officer before he was hired full-time.
Day said the rewards of police work include making a difference and impacting people’s lives.
“There is a lot of positive interaction with people,” he said.
While patrolling a residential area Friday, Day was greeted by a woman and two children out for a walk in the Sunset Ridge area.
The challenges of working in law enforcement, according to Day, include negative perceptions provided by some media outlets.
“Ninety-nine percent of officers are trying to do the right thing for the right reason,” he said.
Ranger, a male Dutch shepherd, has served as a K-9 officer since November 2013.
“It’s fun to have a partner in the car,” Day said. “He’s a good back-up. He’s going to help officers if something happens.
“He is a great public relations tool and a conversation piece,” he added. “He helps break down barriers. People share stories with me about their dogs. That breaks the ice and builds rapport and connections.”
Day said Ranger can also be a crime deterrent, when people hear him bark.
Ranger succeeded Dingo, who retired in October 2013. Dingo, 12, and Ranger, 4, live with Day.
Police enforce speed limits
Officer Casey Handley has worked for the Camas Police Department for a year-and-a-half.
Handley, a 2008 Washougal High School graduate, was a reserve officer for almost one year with the Washougal Police Department, before he was hired by the CPD.
One of the elements of his job, traffic control, involves stopping people who drive over the speed limit.
Handley recalls an incident involving excessive speed, when a vehicle was going close to 70 mph on Southeast Sixth Avenue near a rail bridge. The speed limits in that area alternate from 35 to 25.
While patrolling residential areas, Handley sometimes sees garages left open at night.
He has knocked on the front doors of these homes, to advise the occupants to close their garages and prevent possible thefts.
“Sometimes people leave their car keys in the ignition, and the door is unlocked,” Handley said.
As he talked about theft deterrents during a recent ridealong, he noticed a car traveling 65 mph in a 35 mph zone near Parker Estates.
“In the rain, that would be reckless driving,” Handley said. “That is almost double the speed limit.”
He said his roles in law enforcement are to educate and enforce.
Officers provide first aid
A ridealong with CPD Officer Debrah Riedl included a tour of the police station, at 2100 N.E. Third Ave.
In addition to the patrol, detectives and interview rooms, there is an area where officers talk with children who have witnessed crimes. That room is decorated to be child-friendly.
There is a booking room with three cells, where suspects can be held for up to six hours before being transferred to Clark County Jail.
The CPD station has a room for Clark County Sheriff’s personnel to file reports. Rifle maintenance occurs in the armory, in the station.
Found bicycles are also in the building, along with a weight and training room for law enforcement personnel.
This is Riedl’s 20th year with the CPD. She grew up in Tacoma and majored in public relations in college.
After interning at the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Riedl was a reserve deputy for two years there before she was hired by the CPD.
On the day of the ridealong, Feb. 4, Handley and Riedl looked for a man who was reportedly despondent and armed with a knife. A family member had called 911. A few minutes later, a dispatcher mentioned someone saw a suspicious subject with blood on his hands near the 2400 block of Northeast Third Avenue.
Officers wore latex gloves and applied pressure on the man’s hand, wrist and arm to stop the bleeding from self-inflicted wounds, before a Camas-Washougal ambulance arrived. Police vehicles contain first aid kits and biohazard bags to dispose of materials that contain bodily fluids.
After returning to the station, Riedl filled out and faxed a mental health hold report, concerning the man, to a hospital.
When Handley responded to a vehicle accident on Southwest Sixth Avenue, Riedl assisted by striking a road flare and placing it near the scene to alert other drivers. She also confirmed that there was signage posted with the speed limit of 25 mph, along that street.
Camas Police Chief Mitch Lackey said police departments serve as a community clearing house for any issue that concerns the public.
“Our jobs exist to help or to serve those who find themselves in need,” he said. “Because those terms are so vague and hard to define, so is the job of a police officer. It is a job that cannot be learned through books or academic study. Nothing replaces the experiences that a police officer lives throughout his or her career.
“We prepare and train to be able to respond to any call, no matter what time of day, which is one reason that this is such a difficult occupation field,” Lackey added. “The variety of the police officer’s duties is as vast as the variety of problems that any community can experience. It is a daunting challenge, but that is a police officer’s duty.”