Reaching out and responding

Even though our employee turnover rate is significantly lower than most governments (0.9% per month v. 1.6% average for state and local governments), our amazing Human Resources (HR) team conducted 848 recruitments last year!  That included screening more than 20,000 job applications!

In the past, we used to post job opportunities on our website and hope good candidates would see them and apply.  But when you want to hire the best, that is just not good enough.  Our HR Recruitment team knew they had to aggressively market our positions – including getting these great County jobs in front of a much wider audience!

And the HR team knew that the people who knew the opportunities the best and had the most at stake in hiring the best new employees were our existing employees!  So, they created a talented cadre of folks from across our county departments to be part of the outreach as “ambassadors.”  People like Joy Sauer, an engineer with PPW. Collectively, they are known as the Outreach and Community Event Team or OCET for short and it was launched in 2023.

OCET augments the work done by HR to attract people to available jobs at the County – primarily at community gatherings. This includes traditional job fairs but also includes “going where the people are.”  Beyond increasing excellent applicants for today’s openings, their work also builds relationships for potential future job openings and gets our important work greater exposure in the community – a definite “win-win-win!”

The team currently has more than 20 members outside the Recruitment Team spread across 7 departments/courts of the County, and they would welcome more of their co-workers to join them!

OCET members receive 4 hours of training, attend monthly meetings, and are expected to attend at least 2 community events each calendar year.

Take a look at this video to see if you’d be interested in joining the team!

Are you ready to be part of OCET?  If so, fill out this interest form to get started.

On Monday, I got out and around the County – and sometimes with lights and sirens going – during a “ride along” with Deputy Martha Thompson. (Test Question:  How many Deputy Thompson’s are on swing shift in Central Patrol?  Correct answer is three – including Martha’s husband, Chad, and Chris Thompson too).

I really appreciated my time on patrol with Martha – and learning her story.

Deputy Thompson grew up in Parkland in a troubled home.  When she was very young, she met a compassionate Pierce County deputy – and that convinced her that she wanted to go into law enforcement.

After high school, she served for eight years in the U.S. Air Force Security Forces – their military police. Then she came back to serve her community, first as a Corrections Deputy (where she was Deputy Brooks) and then into Patrol.  Martha believes that everything in her background contributes to her being a better deputy. As a Corrections Deputy, she developed an excellent ability to talk with inmates and de-escalate situations – and that directly translates to “the streets.”  Not surprisingly, in her work, she occasionally comes in contact with folks she first met in the Jail.

During my time with Deputy Thompson, we responded to calls on South Hill, Parkland, Spanaway and even a pocket of unincorporated County near Lakewood.   A few things stood out to me during my latest ride along:

  • The information from the 911 call is only the beginning.  The call to 911 can be inaccurate, potentially even deceptive to escalate the response, and nearly always has changed by the time our deputies arrive.  Once on scene, our deputies must figure out what really happened and the best way to respond.
  • Domestic disputes made up most of our calls.  Our society frequently calls 911 to get someone to intervene in a family disagreement. The challenge with domestic complaints is the deputies never really know the situation when they first pull up.  They can be extremely volatile – and even deadly.  Our deputies only respond to domestic complaints in teams of two or more.  Deputy Kent Mundell lost his life in a domestic dispute that suddenly went horribly wrong.
  • Teamwork is the key.  Throughout the shift, it was very clear that the many different deputies traveling in their individual patrol vehicles throughout Central Patrol, were really a team.  Whether it was blocking traffic so another deputy could safely resolve a car accident, responding to a reported two vehicle shooting (most likely their engines backfiring), or allowing a “fight” between a father and his 17-year-old son to “cool off,” Deputy Thompson worked with most of her swing shift team.

As before, I came away from my “shift,” thankful that we have people like Deputy Thompson who step up to answer our calls for help and keep our community safe.

As a final note, I was honored and humbled to speak at the annual Pierce County Law Enforcement Memorial Service last night. 

During my time as Executive, we have lost deputies Daniel McCartney, Cooper Dyson, Daryl Shuey, and Dom Calata.  Their service to our community cost them their lives. We must never forget them and their families – as well as the other officers who died serving the people of Pierce County.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great weekend with your friends and family – hug them tightly.