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News / Clark County News

Interagency agreement to aid Vancouver Police Department OK’d

Washougal’s police chief to provide help amid low staffing

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: November 30, 2022, 6:01am

The Vancouver Police Department has enlisted support from colleagues in Washougal to help the department compensate for low staffing and vacant positions.

Under a new interagency agreement, approved by the Vancouver City Council late Monday evening, Washougal Police Chief Wendi Steinbronn will assist Vancouver by reviewing internal affairs investigations and overseeing policies about three days a week for up to five months.

Vancouver Police Chief Jeff Mori requested the partnership to ease his and Assistant Police Chief Troy Price’s current load as the department prepares to recruit to fill two vacant assistant police chief positions.

The positions have been open since July.

Vancouver will start recruiting in January with the hope of bringing new assistant chiefs on board in early April 2023.

Vancouver will reimburse Washougal for its services at an hourly rate, according to a staff report.

Steinbronn assumed her role as Washougal’s chief in fall 2020 after running a Portland precinct composed of 135 employees and 58 square miles. Now in a small-town department, she oversees a staff of just more than 20 and 6.8 square miles.

Local law enforcement personnel have previously described Steinbronn as being engaged in interdepartmental and community affairs, according to previous reporting by The Columbian. Steinbronn said she seeks to have a personable demeanor so others feel comfortable talking to her, something she did in Portland by providing her cellphone number to concerned business owners.

Mori’s request to temporarily bring Steinbronn onboard is one of multiple approaches to address Vancouver’s worsening police staffing shortages. In August, the chief was successful in withdrawing the department from a regional drug task force, bringing one detective back to its central workforce.

Council members commended Mori’s creativity in addressing the police department’s staff shortages with limited resources while they seek to fill multiple vacancies.

Columbian staff writer