Recruiting new officers, utilizing social media and tackling burglaries are all high priorities for the newly selected Kirkland Chief of Police, Cpt. Cherie Harris.
Harris has been with the Kirkland Police Department since 2012 after serving as the deputy chief of the Monroe Police Department.
Harris is a 23-year law enforcement veteran who got her start after taking a job with the Washington State University police department her freshman year.
She originally planned on joining the military, but said law enforcement offered a more solid career for women in the late 1980s.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for women in law enforcement,” she said.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, and has completed credits towards a masters degree which she plans on pursuing further.
With eight current open positions, and more retirements in the Kirkland Police Department expected soon, Harris said she will implement a more robust recruitment program.
This would include marketing the department at job fairs, college campuses and military bases, among other venues.
Partnering with radio stations and increasing their social media presence are also high priorities. Harris said a Kirkland police Facebook page will likely be coming soon, and they will be expanding their Twitter presence.
“We do want to use Facebook to communicate with the community and have them communicate with us,” she said.
Enhancing two-way communication between residents and the department will help them tackle persistent problems like burglaries, Harris said.
In addition to educating residents on how to prevent burglaries, the residents could also send them tips over social media.
Harris said data-driven policing should help alleviate burglaries by identifying neighborhoods with high burglary rates, keeping tabs on suspects in Kirkland and surrounding cities, and being more proactive in investigations.
A preliminary five-year “Strategic Plan” is due out next week, with fleshed out ideas expected in the next couple months. The plan will incorporate concerns and goals from the department, city and residents.
Harris said that despite all the work ahead she’s looking forward to it.
“It’s about being able to make a difference not just in our community but the officers that serve the community,” she said. “I’m very excited to be the chief in Kirkland and make a difference.”
Harris will assume the role of Chief of Police on April 19. She was chosen over two other candidates, including the deputy chief of operations bureau for the Port of Seattle and a retired assistant chief of the DeKalb County Police Department in Georgia.
She has experience managing patrol, traffic, K-9, SWAT, crisis negotiation and parking enforcement teams.
The city began searching for a new Chief of Police after former chief Eric Olsen retired last September after 27 years of service and eight years as Kirkland’s chief.