Yelm Community Blog Interview with Police Chief Todd Stancil
January 15, 2014
Following in the aftermath of very high profile cases of angst between police officers and their respective communities, I thought this a good time to sit down with Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil to ask about the Yelm Police Department, in an effort to inform Yelm Community Blog readers. Following are some key questions I put to him.
– I began by asking Chief Stancil about his tenure in Yelm.
I began my career in the Yelm Police Dept. in 1994 as a reserve officer, so have served this community for almost 21 years. I was appointed Chief in 2002 and am currently the longest serving Chief/Sheriff in Thurston County. I was raised here in the Nisqually Valley having graduated from Rainier High School in 1989, so I have deep connections to this area. I also currently serve as Yelm’s Emergency Management Director and President of the Yelm Midday Lion’s Club.
– What changes here stand-out from 21 years ago?
The population of Yelm was 2,100 residents at the time and McDonald’s was just opening and the center of attention. To look at where we are today with all the changes, the ones that stand out are the impacts to law enforcement, especially the challenges in the last 5 years after the economy nosedived. Like Thurston County, there are the financial struggles for law enforcement and the impacts on the Corrections side. The costs to incarcerate an inmate have more than doubled from 20 years ago. Patrol activity effects municipal and county court systems, which in turn effect jail budgets. There is a cost to holding criminals accountable and it is an expensive process that significantly impacts county and local budgets. The more we do as a department, the more the Court does, which impacts our jail budget. As you can see, everything has an effect.
– What is your level of staffing and how have you managed these challenges?
There are increased demands in accountability, watching what we do, and training requirements, to name a few of the challenges. I spend a great deal of my time making sure our department is operating as efficiently and effectively as possible to maintain a high level of service to the citizens of Yelm.
– What do you and your team consider a “high level of service?”
Our goal for a high level of service means to meet the citizens’ expectations, i.e. prompt response time, responses to alarm calls, efficient and thorough investigation of crimes. If a citizen calls us, we will come and have the time/personnel to investigate and ultimately hold someone responsible. There is an increased expectation of police presence and visibility, which is a deterrence to crime in the city that not only will we respond to calls, yet this presence is a prevention of crimes, which dovetails with enforcement and education.
– Moving forward what do you envision for the future from your department’s point of view?
Due to Yelm’s proximity to JBLM, this is a rapidly growing city, people want to live here. Families look to Yelm because of our excellent school system and our family oriented environment, which goes hand in hand with the excellent service provided to our city by the men and women of our department. Our officers are dedicated to maintain this as a family oriented community. We work closely with Yelm Community Schools, providing a resource officer to the Yelm School District in educating and protecting our area’s youth and school staff.
– What challenges do you see in your crystal ball?
People love to live here because of the atmosphere we’ve created, however this has been more demanding [as the city nears the 10,000 population mark], as it’s “all boots on the ground” here, there is no fluff in the staffing and no extra time on payroll. My job as a chief is to not only be mindful of where we are today, but to lead the way in how we get to tomorrow.
I have to be a visionary.
Funding at current levels for our department are not guaranteed in the future. Things were rosy with our budget up until 2008-2009 when the economic recession was first felt here. We lost two officer positions in 2009 and went from 14 to 12 Commissioned Officers. Those two positions have not been restored to date.
– What would you like the community to know not yet asked?
To maintain this great community takes public involvement. We want to work with the people: our friends, businesses and fellow constituents. Stop by the Public Safety Building and introduce yourself, get to know us, get to know your neighbors.
We work for the people – don’t be afraid to contact and interact with us. We need to hear from our community as much as they need to have our presence.
– Bottom line
We have alot of experienced officers here in Yelm and that says something. They have watched our city grow and they have grown along with our city. That speaks volumes to the fine caliber of our staff and their commitment to Yelm’s citizens. I am very proud of them.
The continued growth here is both exciting and challenging.
– Any closing comments?
On January 13, 2015, Councilor J. W. Foster spoke on the record at the Yelm City Council meeting that he happened to be present when a citizen was stopped for an infraction just prior to Christmas. He got to witness that instead of the officer issuing a citation, they received $100 from the officer via the Yelm Secret Santas. Councilor Foster was so moved to have observed this interaction and see what a difference this made for both. That our officers were provided the opportunity to give back to others in this way was also a gift to them, to be in a different and uplifting role, which broke down many barriers for our department and for our constituents. This helps to develop bridges of mutual understanding now and into the future for our community.
The Yelm Community Blog extends Chief Stancil sincere thanks for the opportunity to sit down for this interview. He is acknowledged and much appreciated for serving our city with distinction for 21 years.
From the Yelm City Council Minutes of the January 13, 2015:
“Councilmember Foster had the opportunity to witness the Secret Santa program around Christmas time. An anonymous donor gave $5,000 to The Yelm Police Department to give out to citizens in $100 dollar bills that they felt could use the money. Councilmember Foster thanked the anonymous donor for the generous donation to our community and stated it was a nice thing that the Police Department were (sic) able to do for the citizens. Mayor Harding stated it was a well received and appreciated program.”