Six members of the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) delved into myriad topics — from policing on land and water to training and community outreach — at the May 2 special hybrid Mercer Island City Council meeting.
The collaborative presentation of the department’s 2022 annual report flashed on screen as the meeting’s initial agenda item.
In the on-scene realm, Operations Commander Mike Seifert reported that MIPD received 11,919 calls for service last year, including 355 theft cases and 59 burglaries, and officers made 210 arrests and issued 940 citations (549 for traffic, 69 for non-traffic infractions and 322 for parking).
On the arrest front, Seifert noted: “One of the ways we did this was by using the automatic license plate readers. They continue to assist officers with both identifying stolen vehicles and wanted individuals.”
No arrests were made or citations issued in 2022 related to the city’s ordinance regarding the use of public property. In this sphere, MIPD partners with the Congregations for the Homeless and The Sophia Way (which is dedicated to ending homelessness for women) to provide assistance to those in need.
Use-of-force training is critical for the department and officers receive instruction in firearms proficiency and policy, defensive tactics, less lethal weapons and de-escalation techniques.
“We want to make sure our officers are as trained as they can be with the most common, best up-to-date practices that are available,” said Seifert, adding that the MIPD is a member of the regional Independent Force Investigation Team. MIPD has received approximately $19,000 through state legislators’ new funding for police agencies to continue conducting use-of-force staff training.
In 2022, MIPD was involved in seven instances of low-level force use to gain compliance, according to the report. Seifert said that upon reviewal of the instances, officers’ actions were justified within law and policy.
MIPD was assigned 295 criminal cases and filed 44 felony cases with King County last year, according to Detective Sgt. Dominic Amici.
In one high-profile case, the Island department joined other adjacent law-enforcement agencies in helping identify a robbery suspect and filing felony charges, Amici said. The suspect first robbed an Island gas station at gunpoint and then traveled to Redmond to rob another business. Obtaining the suspect’s fingerprints off a dropped pack of cigarettes on the Island scene was a key piece of evidence in the investigation, Amici said.
Vessel safety inspections are a crucial aspect of the job for Marine Patrol Unit officers, according to Sgt. Chad Schumacher, who added that boats are examined to make sure they contain life jackets, fire extinguishers, blowers and other necessary safety equipment. In 2022, the unit completed more than 270 inspections, which exceeded its goal of 200.
Last year, the unit responded to 325 calls for service and four vessel collisions. There was one fatality at Hunts Point, which MIPD patrols along with the Island, Bellevue, Renton, Medina and Yarrow Point. During Seafair weekend, MIPD and its partnering agencies made 21 arrests for boating under the influence, and there were zero drownings, no major injuries or officer injuries and no vessel collisions.
Schumacher said the unit is placing special emphasis on ensuring that operators of canoes, paddleboards and kayaks possess life jackets, and officers encourage those people to wear the jackets to prevent drownings.
Over in the MIPD services division, Commander Jeff Magnan said that staffers processed 1,100 case reports and responded to 600 public records requests in 2022. Employees have engaged in community outreach and crime prevention through the department’s Coffee With a Cop, Battle of the Badges, Walk-Bike-Roll to School and National Night Out events and more.
“We try to get ourselves involved as much as we can with meeting directly with the citizenry that we support,” said Magnan, adding that officer Jennifer Franklin runs the emergency management side of operations, which includes Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) courses, earthquake and active shooter drills and Map Your Neighborhood programs.
Personnel and Training Sgt. Scott Schroeder said that officers have received more than 2,000 hours of training, not including their time spent at the police academy. Their instruction has included leadership training through the FBI National Academy, autism awareness and anti-bias training from community leader Wayne Perryman.
Chief Ed Holmes said that his diverse team of 38 commissioned and non-commissioned officers is proactive, compassionate and impartial while performing their jobs. Appreciative community members have responded by showering the department with heaps of praise and serving officers holiday meals.
“It is just incredibly heartwarming to see how this police department has served this community in a way that not only keeps it safe, but speaks to that deep appreciation the community has for the department,” he said.