Wapato’s new acting Police Chief Michael Campos says he will have an open-door policy with the community.
Mayor Dora Alvarez-Roa appointed him to the position following her decision to terminate the city’s former police chief, Dominic Rizzi, on Aug. 2.
Campos stressed that the role is temporary. But he also shared his ideas for moving the police department forward in the upcoming days.
Priorities include following up with a review of the department conducted through the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, started while Rizzi was still in charge. Campos said the final review was published April 15.
“The report will serve as a guide to identify areas that need strengthening and highlight positive and innovative programs and practices,” he said. “The report will provide us with a plan to move forward and stabilize the agency.”
Campos said filling vacant officer positions and building the city’s reserve force also will be priorities. He answered the following questions about his background and what Wapato residents can expect from him in the interim role. Some answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
When did you decide you wanted to become a police officer? What or who inspired you?
Since I was about 12 years old, I have wanted to be in law enforcement. My dream came true when in 1993, Union Gap hired me as a police officer. I am a person who desires to help people. In my experience I have learned that working as a police officer is satisfying, rewarding, saddening, lonely and fulfilling, all during the same shift. Each day can and will present a new challenge and the ability to help citizens in my community.
Can you please tell us more about your law enforcement career?
I completed basic law enforcement academy and reserve academy in Washington. I have been employed by the city of Wapato police department for about 15 years. I am presently serving as interim chief of police for the second time. During my career I have been involved in countless arrests and have handled thousands of calls for service. However, my primary function as a police officer is to protect and serve, prevent crime, regulate public conduct, preserve the peace and ultimately effect an arrest when required.
You’re taking over at a time when there is some mistrust in the community about Wapato police. How will you rebuild trust with residents in the community — or do you feel you already have their trust?
I believe that I have and continue to have support from members of the Wapato community. I have always believed being a police officer requires public trust. I am passionate for this community and I am excited for this opportunity. I am eager to help improve the function and appearance of the Wapato Police Department into a relevant, contemporary law enforcement agency.
What would you like to say to community members who are afraid that they will experience harassment and intimidation by police officers?
I will have an open-door policy. I will continue to work closely with the community. I will continue to be transparent and accountable. If anyone ever feels they are being threatened, they should call 911 or a senior official.
Editorial Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Alvarez-Roa terminated Rizzi on Aug. 2.