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Woodland PD strengthens force

WOODLAND – The town of Woodland is providing more service for its citizens and, at the same time, relieving some of the pressure of Police Chief Don Ryan.

Thursday afternoon, Woodland Mayor Jay Jenkins and the town board swore in Officer Kevin Byrd, the first of four lawmen who will be joining the town’s police force.

“Every municipality around us has fulltime and part-time officers,” Jenkins said. “We were one of few that didn’t.”

The issue began being discussed shortly after the new town board was sworn in last December. During that month Jenkins took the oath for his first term as mayor and commissioners Joe Mitchell and Joe Blythe joined commissioners Les Clark and David Cooper.

“You can’t ask one person to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Jenkins said. “We were requiring him to be our law enforcement at any given moment of the day or night.

“That takes a toll on a person,” he continued. “Our goal is to keep our police chief for a long period of time.”

With Ryan working as the town’s lone law officer and zoning administrator, the town board began the process during the 2006-07 budgeting process to bring in new officers.

The plan will allow Ryan to bring on four part-time officers to work between 35 and 40 hours a week in addition to the time he spends on patrol.

“Ultimately we’ll have four part-time officers with each working approximately 10 hours per week,” Ryan said. “It will give us a stronger department and help me tremendously.

“If I get sick, we’ll have someone to work in the town so that is definitely a good thing,” he said. “It will also allow us to have better coverage on nights and weekends. Once we get everyone hired, we’ll be able to cover the early morning hours much better.”

Ryan said he had worked for the better part of 10 years as the only officer in the town and he was looking forward to working with Byrd and the other three officers. He indicated he was looking for officers with experience who had a good rapport with the public.

“Kevin has been an officer for 13 years,” Ryan said. “He’s good with people. He’s easy-going. We want people who know how to deal with problems.”

The chief also indicated he would leading his department to do more work on drugs, something he hasn’t been able to concentrate on while handling all law enforcement duties.

As the Woodland Police Department makes the transition, Ryan said the town people would also be making a change.

“Hopefully, we can get the people to start calling central dispatch,” Ryan said. “When other officers are on duty, that will be the quickest way for them to get help.”

Ryan said he was accustomed to be awakened at 1 or 2 a.m., but was hoping people would begin calling central dispatch at 574-1041 or 574-1042.

“If other officers are on duty, they will know where they are and, if I’m asleep, I won’t,” he said. “They’ll get much better help by calling there first.”