Sarah Shannon Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said the key to policing in a town with a large college-aged population is education and prevention.
The majority of arrests and injuries that occur in Pullman are alcohol
related, he said. While most students only see the enforcement side of the police department’s work in the community, Jenkins said they do more than just arrest underage drinkers.
The two police officers assigned to College Hill frequently meet with student groups and play a huge role in student-police relations, he said. In addition, the department’s relationship with ASWSU each year is also important.
“We have a responsibility of safety to the students who live off campus,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins has been police chief for a little more than a year and half. Since arriving in Pullman, he has also made an effort to improve transparency in the department’s policing tactics.
He said transparency played a huge role in his decision to allow the reality TV show “Campus PD” to follow a few of Pullman’s police officers around last November.
“There were a lot of misperceptions about what we do on College Hill,” Jenkins said.
After the show aired in January, Jenkins said the reaction to the show was mixed. Some people appreciated the transparency, while others thought it portrayed students in a negative way.
“It wasn't an easy decision to make,” Jenkins said.
Earlier this year, the Pullman PD was awarded a two-year, $300,000 federal grant, which will be used to install security cameras in Pullman. Jenkins said while the location has not yet been finalized, it will likely be Adam’s Mall due to the concentration of assaults there.
Jenkins is one of the individuals responsible for developing policing strategies regarding the use of the cameras by law enforcement. He said he recognizes that privacy is a huge concern for many people and he wants to work with the community to alleviate that anxiety.
The installation of the cameras will likely take place at the end of spring or in early summer. Throughout next semester, there will be three open meetings regarding the use of the cameras. Jenkins said he wants the community to give input on the cameras.