I recently attended a charity event for the Behind the Badge Foundation.
There was an impassioned request made of attendees to make charitable donations to this worthwhile organization. The speaker, a veteran police officer from a local police department expressed her reasons for her charitable work for the Behind the Badge Foundation. She spoke directly after a Power Point I’ve seen for the past 20 years that lists every police officer who has died in the line of duty in Washington state since 1854.
The why of the keynote speaker at the Behind the Badge Foundation’s 21st annual ball and auction included a pictorial display. This veteran officer shared her Academy gradua-tion photos, her swearing in, other assorted happy times and an engagement photo. The final slide was the newspaper article for her “WHY” when her fiancé became a member of those honored on the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial wall in Olympia, Washington. These two PowerPoint presentations and her words had a profound effect on the audience.
In April 2019, the WACE board promoted and held the 2019 WACE spring training confer-ence at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission in Burien, Washing-ton. Our keynote speaker, Jesus Villahermosa presented an engaging, thought provoking, dynamic and interactive daylong training, which was attended by over 150 code enforce-ment professionals. The program was well received, and our organization received well over 50% positive survey results from those in attendance. I hope those in attendance left this training thinking about their “WHY.”
I believe, the basic “WHY,” for code enforcement officers, is to help make their respective communities safer and to enhance the lives of community members, through enforce-ment of municipal codes. That isn’t just a catchy phrase, in a municipal proclamation, it’s also my “WHY.” As code enforcement officers across the State of Washington, we all have different jobs and priorities. As a housing zoning inspector for the City of Seattle, my col-leagues and I enforce the city’s housing building maintenance code, vacant building code, and unfit building code, to name a few. Recently the Seattle City Council has taken steps to enact legislation holding property owners who continue to leave residential structures vacant and uninhabitable, accountable for this irresponsible behavior. I believe enforce-ment of these codes are vital to livability in the city of Seattle.
My “WHY” as the WACE president is, and always will be, to promote professional educa-tion and networking opportunities for members of the WACE organization. Your WACE board sponsored and promoted the 2019 WACE Spring conference on officer safety. The 2019 Fall WACE Conference is in the planning stages, speakers have been contacted, along with the staples of “Junk Vehicle” certification, and environmental considerations for code enforcement officers. WACE is working to bring speakers on personal wellness and of course, officer safety to the fall conference. Please stay tuned and watch your inbox for announcements regarding enhancements and future training your WACE board is bringing to WACE membership.
Please take care and please be safe, we all need to go home at the end of our shift.
Liz Krzyminski—WACE Chapter President
I have been involved in the “Enforcement” Business for most of my life. I served in our Nation’s largest Law Enforcement organiza-tion, the U.S. Army from 1967-1972. I served in the Washington Army National Guard from 1973-1980. In the Army I was in the In-fantry, and served in combat in Vietnam, then as an Instructor at the U.S. Army Ranger School. In the Washington National Guard I served in a number of command and staff capacities, and instructed the Guardsmen in such topics as Rear Area Protection, Bayonet Proficiency and Riot/Crowd Control. I served the City of Oak Harbor as a Police Patrol Officer and Patrol Sergeant from 1977-1998, SWAT Commander, Firearms Instructor and Field Training Officer. I became a Deputy Marshal in the Town of Coupeville in 1998, serving until 2005. In 2005, I returned to the service of the City of Oak Harbor as a Code Enforcement Officer. I was about to get involved in a side of enforcement that I had previously not realized existed…
When I was hired in 2005 as a Code Enforcement Officer by the City of Oak Harbor, I was their very first one. My supervisor, the City Attorney, told me that the City had decided they needed a Code Enforcement Of-ficer, but he had no idea how to tell me to do the job. My marching orders were to begin enforcing the City Codes, and to keep notes as I figured out how to do it, so that we could have some form of official procedures in place. As I worked through the issues and sought help and advice from other jurisdictions, I found a group of Code Enforcement Officers that met for training sponsored by the Washington Department of Ecology. This group met monthly at a get together that usually featured a guest instructor or speaker, followed by a round robin session of networking that provided us with a lot of input and resources from fellow officers. Unfortunately, budget and manpower issues ended these sessions after a few years, and nothing like that that I am aware of is currently taking place. I retired from my position as Code Enforcement Officer in 2010 to enjoy the rewards of my life’s labors.
In 2018, the City of Oak Harbor Human Resources Manager asked me if I would consider taking my job back. They explained that the city had is-sues which they felt they needed me to deal with. So here I am, back in the game, and the rules have changed seriously since my last day on the job in 2010.
So, what’s my point? The Military and Law Enforcement worlds have countless academies, courses, classes, seminars and field training, to in-sure that their people can be proficient at whatever they are tasked to do. But when one becomes a Code Enforcement Officer, where is the Acade-my? What school or training course can the new Officer sign up for?
The best chance currently available for Code Enforcement Officers to im-prove their job skills is to join the Washington Association of Code En-forcement Officers and make it a point to attend any and all training available through WACE.
I recently attended a presentation by Jesus Villahermosa, retired Pierce County Deputy Sheriff. I was skeptical about how much a re-tired Law Enforcement Officer could tell me that would relate to the Code Enforcement environment, but I felt that I was seriously in need of some updated training, any kind of training. I was pleasantly surprised to see that WACE had found an instructor that complete-ly understood and incorporated the fine points of instruction into his presentation. Jesus not only spoke the words, he emphasized them with appropriate body language and just the right amount of humor. He delivered his message to an audience that he held riveted with his delivery, knowing when to use an expression, a gesture or a tone of voice to highlight the message he wanted to get across. He moved across the stage area without losing eye contact, and made an obvious effort to interact with the listeners in a way that drew peo-ple in without making them uncomfortable. I was also happy to see that his presentation, which focused on Officer Safety by situational awareness, was in fact tailored to the types of situations that Code Enforcement Officers actually deal with. Jesus incorporated the les-sons he had learned from a life on the streets into lessons for use by those of us who must practice Code Enforcement without all the tools possessed by the Police. If this is the kind of instruction that can be expected from the Washington Association Code Enforcement Officers, I am definitely signing up for whatever training they sponsor in the future. Thank you WACE for stepping up and filling this need.
Jesus Villahermosa with Nicolas Poulsbo. Photo courtesy of Katie