Washougal police prep for staffing changes

Department faces more turnover than chief can recall in past 22 years

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The Washougal Police Department (WPD) is about to face more turnover than its police chief can recall in his 22 years of working in the department.

WPD Chief Ron Mitchell told the Washougal City Council during their workshop, Monday, Aug. 27, that Officer Casey Handley has tendered his resignation, effective Sept. 18, in favor of returning to the Camas Police Department and earning approximately $500 more a month.

Handley, a former Washougal reserve police officer, worked for the Camas and Washougal police departments for two years each. His current salary with the WPD is $72,879, a year, according to Washougal Human Resource Director Jeanette Cefalo.

The WPD’s newest hire, Greg Sulzinger, served in the Coast Guard and will start attending the Basic Law Enforcement Academy, in Burien, Washington, in late October.

There are already two entry level recruits currently at the academy, and they are expected to graduate in mid-December.

Chief Mitchell told council members Monday, in addition to Handley, there are two WPD officers who are seeking jobs elsewhere. One of them “wants exposure in a larger agency,” and the other officer “does not want to do patrol work anymore” and is looking at the Port of Portland as a potential employer.

WPD Commander Allen Cook said, Tuesday, to his knowledge, the officers, who were not named, have not turned in any notices to leave the department.

Meanwhile, Officer Jon Cotton plans to retire in November. He started as a reserve officer for the city of Washougal in 1983 and was hired on as a paid officer in February 1990.

Mitchell said, historically, the WPD has experienced little to no turnover, since he started working for the department.

“It has pretty much stayed the same,” he said. “We have this whole new fresh group of people, new blood. It’s pretty exciting. It’s a natural thing.”

The WPD has 21 sworn officers, including Mitchell and Cook.