Jessica Sullivan is new Sammamish Police sergeant

August 30, 2010

By Caleb Heeringa

New: Aug. 30, 1:40 p.m.
Sammamish has a new cop on the beat.
Jessica Sullivan took over as administrative sergeant this summer, replacing Robert Baxter, who departed to take a job as a captain with King County Metro. Sullivan is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the department.
Sullivan grew up and has worked around the Puget Sound area and is a University of Washington graduate. She said she was drawn to law enforcement by the opportunity to work for more than just a paycheck.
“I had worked retail before, but didn’t like working for the bottom line,” she said. “I liked being able to make a difference in the community” through law enforcement.
Sullivan began her career with the King County Sheriff’s Office, first as a patrol officer in Shoreline for four years and then two years as a detective in Burien.
She said that if she had to choose between being on the front lines on patrol or in the more analytical role as a detective, she preferred being able to connect the dots and see cases to their conclusion.
“When you’re on patrol, you usually end up handing off a case to someone else,” Sullivan said. “As a detective, you’re responsible for finding a resolution to that case.”
After her detective position, Sullivan moved into a recruiter position with the sheriff’s office, talking with potential police candidates and walking them through the long and sometimes arduous hiring process, which includes numerous tests, background checks and more than four months of full-time training at the state police academy.
“It was a way to plug in with candidates early in the process,” Sullivan said. “I tried to make sure they had a realistic view of what law enforcement is and isn’t.”
The position also entailed providing support for family members of prospective candidates, who were often concerned about their loved one getting into a sometimes dangerous profession.
Sullivan said that sort of support is even more important in the aftermath of recent high-profile law enforcement deaths, including the Lakewood police shooting and the death of Seattle Police officer Timothy Brenton.
“They see article after article and funeral after funeral and think, ‘Oh my god, my boyfriend or son or daughter wants to get into this job. Are you kidding me?’” Sullivan said.
After recruiting, Sullivan worked for two and a half years as a patrol sergeant in the Maple Valley area before being assigned to Sammamish.
Though she is a woman in a profession that is traditionally inhabited by men, Sullivan said she has rarely felt that she was being treated differently because of her gender – either by other police or by the public.
“You approach people respectfully and confidently and you’re usually able to come to a consensus on things,” she said. “That has nothing to do with gender, that’s just being human.”
In addition to her regular duties of keeping tabs on the incident reports of officers, Sullivan said she plans to expand the department’s volunteer program and start an Explorer program, which would provide opportunities for young adults between the ages of 14 and 21 to get experience in law enforcement and  even do internships with the department.
She said Explorers get to go on ride-alongs with officers and perhaps do undercover liquor buys in connection with the state’s Liquor Control Board.
Sullivan said Sammamish, with its concentration of high-income families, remains a target for identity thieves and bank fraud.
The department sometimes sees a half-dozen reports of fraudulent credit card charges and stolen bank account numbers a week, but can often do little, as thieves can come from anywhere in the world and most charges are simply written off by banks.
There are various ways thieves can get hold of credit card or bank account numbers, including online transactions with businesses that aren’t careful enough with the information, going through a victim’s garbage or mailbox for bills and “credit card roulette,” where thieves set up computer programs that simply try credit card numbers until they find one that works.
Sullivan said people should consider getting locking mailboxes, shredding old bills and bank statements and keeping a close eye on their bank activity and credit score.
“Check your credit report and make sure everything that’s there should be there,” she said.
She said she knows a King County deputy who was surprised to find out that someone had opened a credit line in his name for a $280,000 house in Las Vegas.
“He almost owned a very nice house in Las Vegas,” she said. “To this day, he has no idea how they got a hold of his information.”
Sullivan said she’s enjoyed her first two months on the job and looks forward to many more with the department.
“It’s a wonderful community and a great group of officers,” she said. “The city and the police department partner well together. It’s been fantastic.”
Reporter Caleb Heeringa can be reached at 392-6434. ext. 247, or cheeringa@isspress.com.
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