The Bingen-White Salmon Police Department is enhancing its crime-solving capabilities with the creation of a new position: For the first time, the city police force now has a full-time detective on the payroll.
Jim Andring, who has more than 16 years of law enforcement experience -- including nearly five years with the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department -- was promoted to the new position effective Oct. 1.
Andring said the number of criminal cases the department is handling made the move necessary.
"We've had so many cases of investigating child abuse and burglary -- enough to keep a person busy full time," Andring said. "We were falling behind on the cases; it was too much."
He noted that at one point before taking on the detective's job on a full-time basis, he was trying to handle 17 cases.
"Of those, a major portion were sex offender crimes," he explained.
Andring pointed out that there is no shortage of criminal activity, even in the relatively quiet Bingen-White Salmon community.
"There is more than what people would think," Andring said.
However, Andring noted that this community is not much different than others around the state.
"This occurs everywhere. I think it's pretty standard, and it's more than people would believe is occurring," he said. "But a lot of the cases are shown to be unfounded -- and those are just as important. If you were a suspect, and somebody could clear you, that would be pretty important too."
Other crimes expected to be covered from the detective's post include missing persons (suspicious nature), death investigations, and robberies.
"These crimes do happen. It's just a matter of where and when," Andring said.
Police Chief Ned Kindler said the White Salmon City Council approved funding for the position last January, and Andring was the best person for the job.
"He has a lot of training in child abuse and sex offender cases that none of us have," Kindler explained. "I have all the confidence in the world in Jim. He's shown us nothing but good work."
According to Andring, the detective position has been in the works for a couple years, and "it's been Ned's dream for several years."
Andring said his new duties have required him to change his perspective in unique ways.
"It's a little odd, not wearing a uniform after wearing one for 16 years," he said.
Andring won't be able to leave his uniform in the closet from now on, however. He is still on-call for emergencies, and will also cover other officers' shifts when they are out for training or vacations.
Andring noted that doing detective work is likely to keep him even busier than patrolling did.
"What is different is, I have something to do every minute of every day, as opposed to patrol work, when sometimes you have nothing to do but look for something to do, in crime prevention, traffic violations, etc.," Andring explained. "The department has never had a detective before, so I'll be adjusting to fit what our needs are."
Having a full-time detective is likely to have a helpful ripple effect on the other patrol officers.
"This is done to enhance the patrol work, and keep guys from being distracted from patrol duties and crime prevention duties, by putting one guy on these other cases," he explained.
With Andring moving up to detective and the recent hiring of David Garcia as a patrol officer, the Police Department now has nine full-time employees, including a sergeant and six patrol officers.