Chief Wakama address Police coverage, tickets and more
March 19, 2020
With the recent concern about the police presence in Pine Bluffs I took a moment to sit down with Chief Chance Walkama to talk a little bit about the town, and what he sees for the future of Pine and its residents. Chief Walkama is a neighbor, a resident, a veteran, and a citizen who seems to have the best interests of our town at heart, and is constantly working to implement programs that will give our officers and our residents a place to be proud of.
Walkama has an eye on reducing costs for the 2020 year. He is currently applying for a grant to help to pay for another officer, which would reduce payroll costs overall. Walkama is also working in conjunction with the state to get the funding for a full time school resource officer. Walkama would like to see an officer presence at the school at all times during school hours.
Walkama and his crew have worked tirelessly to get the evidence room moved from the old building. With the air quality in the room as bad as it is, it was important to move it as quickly as possible. Walkama has also updated the uniforms of our local officers giving them a more recognizable and more cohesive appearance. All of the departments policies and procedures have been updated to reflect current standards with Walkama working well beyond to make sure that they are kept that way.
Grants and gifts from other agencies have allowed Walkama to ensure that all of the police vehicles have working radios, and a grant from Emergency Management bought the department six new radios for the officers. Walkama has updated to a new case management system that is much cheaper than the older one, and is hoping to get funding that will allow for more officers to be on patrol at one time. Most people would agree that in the current climate, officers probably feel much safer when there is someone to have their back.
The new chief has gone beyond our local boundaries to bring in training that will prove to be useful for locals and family members alike. Sabrina Lane, Executive Director of Wyoming 2-1-1 will be scheduling a time to come and introduce local families to services offered by 211. For those of you that are unfamiliar with 211 Lane would like residents to know that dialing 211 from any phone will connect users to sources for aging and disability, alcohol and drug abuse, financial and basic needs assistance, education, legal, domestic violence, unemployment and a huge variety of other resources. Please visit wy211.communityos.org for more information. Walkama wanted residents to also know that while there is a scheduled Drug Take Back Day on April 20, residents can bring old prescriptions to the police station at anytime, as there will always be a collection box on site.
As with any new job there will obviously be some growing pains, but given the opportunity, Chief Walkama has the desire to grow and get better. Walkama stated, "I always have an open door policy and everyone is welcome to come and express how they feel about the department. Everyone has a right to do so and there is no repercussions for any complaints. Also, calling our office number option #2 allows people to call and leave a message with their complaints directly with me if they aren't able to make it into the office. We are definitely not perfect but striving to provide the best law enforcement possible. The only thing is if I don't know what the issues are I can't make changes to better our performance."
For those citizens that are concerned with stories about the police going above and beyond to write tickets or harass locals Chief Walkama would like everyone to know that all complaints are taken very seriously. "All body camera media is reviewed to ensure we are acting professionally and to assist with additional feedback and training. Recently, we just had 15 body cameras donated to the PD. It is policy that they must be worn by officers at all times. These captured videos will be reviewed and used to hold officers accountable or clear unfounded complaints" stated Walkama. Chief Walkama would like any resident who has a complaint to know that he will hold his officers to the highest standard; however, that isn't something that he can do if he doesn't know.
Currently Walkama has two full time officers on the force and six part-time officers. For those that are concerned about what is being seen as a heightened police presence, Walkama would like to assure residents that his officers are out in the community to meet people. Understanding that an officer stopping you to talk to you is not always a bad thing will go a long way in helping residents get used to seeing them around.
Finally, in this time of concern over the COVID-19 virus Walkama has announced that Junior Leadership is currently on hold until such time as school resumes. Chief Walkama is very interested in your feedback and your concerns. If you have comments, concerns, or suggestions please feel free to call him at 307-245-8034 push option 2 to be directly connected to the chief's phone. If you need to leave a message please be assured that Chief Walkama will return your call as soon as possible.