Ron Gibson has only been on the job for seven months, but he is already proving to be a very hands-on chief of police.
Since moving from Colorado Springs, Colo. to Redmond, Gibson has been working closely with other city departments as well as other police departments and agencies outside of Redmond. Coming from an agency with nearly 700 officers to Redmond, which has 83 commissioned officers, he said he definitely realizes the importance of partnering with others in the area to ensure his department is doing a comprehensive job.
“(In Colorado Springs) we had the bodies to handle about anything,” Gibson said.
He meets with other law enforcement leaders in the area once a month to touch base and find out if there are any similar trends or issues among them. While Gibson’s department asks for and receives help from the other groups, he said the collaboration is a two-way street and the Redmond Police Department (RPD) helps out when and where it is needed.
Gibson spoke at the Redmond Senior Center’s First Friday Coffee Chat on Jan. 7 to let the public know his role in the city as well as what he has done so far since he has started in June. One of those things has been creating two new positions within the department in October that has RPD getting much more involved in the community.
The new neighborhood resource officers (NROs) positions were created to act as facilitators and coordinators between the police department and the Redmond community. In addition to working with citizens, Gibson said the officers join forces with other departments to solve long-term problems.
Officer Julie Beard is one of the two NROs and said this was exactly what she wanted to do as an officer. She’s been with RPD for seven years in various positions from working with the department’s youth program to being a recruiter. Beard has also worked the night shift as a patrol officer and said just responding to calls can be trying.
“Sometimes it bothers you to go to the same house over and over” she said. “(Being an NRO) is kind of my dream job. I’m hoping to be doing this for a couple years.”
She added that she and her partner officer Matt Hurley, the second NRO, are still in uniform and squad cars so they are able to respond to calls if needed.
Like Beard, Hurley applied for the position based on its community involvement and the ability to talk with people and work together toward resolving problems instead of “putting a bandage” on them and walking away.
Gibson’s experience in working with NROs comes from his time in Colorado Springs, where the department had such positions. Hurley said when the position was created, the chief told him and Beard his expectations but gave them the freedom to make the job their own, which he is his favorite part of being an NRO, but also the most challenging since it is a new position.
“It’s still just new,” Hurley said. “It really has been the high and low for us.”
Hurley said Gibson’s approach to the NRO position is an example of his leadership style. Since Gibson came to RPD in June, he hasn’t been micromanaging, but he has made sure to know what’s going on around the department and the city, which Hurley and Beard think is great.
Gibson may be the chief, but said working as a collaborative team is important, especially as he is still adjusting to his new job. While he brings more than three decades of police experience to the job, Gibson has been working to familiarize himself with Washington laws and procedures as well as the state’s court system. This has been where his staff has been extremely helpful for him.
“It’s been great,” Gibson said. “They’re a great group of people.”
In addition to adjusting to his new job, Gibson has spent the last seven months adjusting to his new home. He has an adult daughter who lives in Everett, but he left behind a son and two grandsons in Colorado, which has been the most difficult part of his move. However, Gibson and his wife have been adapting to Northwest life quite nicely.
“My wife and I, we enjoy the outdoors,” he said. “We really try to get out a lot. Redmond’s been great. (We are) very happy with the move.”