Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins is a newer Coug than most WSU students.
A little more than a year ago, he transferred to the Pullman Police Department from the Claremont Police Department in California where he had worked for almost 33 years and attained the rank of captain.
“It’s been great since I’ve been here,” he said. “The city leaders are good and the community has been very welcoming.”
Even though Jenkins has only been here since July of last year, he said he is an enthusiastic WSU sports fan.
“I’ve become very much a Coug fan,” he said.
Jenkins has a stack of coasters with the Cougar emblem on them sitting on his desk along with numerous WSU mugs in his office.
When asked his favorite WSU sports team, Jenkins laughed and said, “Don’t pin me down.”
WSU is a significant component of the Pullman community, he said, and working with WSU students and faculty has been wonderful.
The major difference between his previous jurisdiction and Pullman is the city’s geographic isolation, which changes who is committing crimes.
He also said even though Claremont had a significant university population as well, it was very different from Pullman. Also, here many WSU students live off campus, which is a huge difference from the universities in Claremont.
“(Here) there is a Greek system, Division I athletics and the student population is much higher,” Jenkins said.
Because of those things, the alcohol-related calls to the police department are significant, he said.
“We’re not naïve enough to think underaged students aren’t going to drink,” he said.
For that reason, his focus since arriving in Pullman has been to educate students on safety as well as prevention.
While many people party safely, Jenkins said, the individuals the police come across are the ones making poor decisions in public.
In 2010, Pullman Police Department charged 160 individuals with minor in possession (MIP) and an additional 161 people with a minor in consumption (MIC).
With the extra large group of freshmen this academic year, he said, an increase of MIPs and MICs may occur.
The weekends that have the highest crime activity are football weekends, he said, due to the large influx of people from out of town.
“Apple Cup is huge,” Jenkins said.
In the past, Mom’s and Dad’s Weekends are also significant weekends as well, he said. Last year’s weekends, however, his staff told him were not as significant in comparison to previous years.
One of his priorities as police chief is to continue to meet and interact with the community, WSU students included. In particular, he wants to help educate students on how to stay safe and out of trouble.
“I want to keep making the police department a partner in the community,” he said.