MATTAWA — The Mattawa Police Department is hiring, was the report given by Police Chief Joe Harris at a regular Mattawa City Council meeting on Thursday, Dec. 5.
“We’re trying to think outside the box,” Harris said. “We’re trying to tailor a program to people who we want to be here. I tell people, ‘I can teach a monkey how to be a cop. I can’t teach character. That’s what you bring to the table.’”
“Be the change, make the difference” is the theme for the recruiting campaign. Harris credited Norma Avalos, the Mattawa Police Department administrative assistant, with coming up with the slogan. He also said that she personally purchased a photo editing program to use with the campaign.
“Some big props to her,” Harris said.
The police department is mainly sharing the information via Facebook. As of Thursday, the social media post had 97 shares, 322 likes and 24,625 views. Harris said that so far, they had 15 applicants instead of the normal two or three.
“The more people we have to fill the pool, the better the hire,” Harris said. “I will not make a bad hire.”
In addition hiring new officers, Harris is reinstating the police reserve program. During the meeting, council approved Harris’ request for the program.
“We have a couple of individuals who are interested in reserving for us,” Harris said. “We have the same criteria for reserve as hired.”
Reserve police officers are volunteers who help out the police force and allows individuals to find out what law enforcement is like. Volunteers must have lawful permanent residence in the US and meet all the requirements of a full time police officer.
Harris also reported that so far, the new SRO position at the Wahluke School District is going well. Mattawa Police Officer Alex Zesati has stepped into the role.
“Alex has already been able to make an impact,” Harris said.
Zesati will be going to SRO specific training in July in the Tri-Cities. He will be joined by Mattawa Police Officer Kevin Koker, who will be the school district’s second full time SRO. Koker isn’t scheduled to start until the 2020-2021 school year. Harris is hiring to replace the two officers.