Chief Dave Floyd Swearing In Ceremony

The Anacortes Police Department has new leadership in Chief Dave Floyd, who was sworn in to the role Monday.

Floyd is no stranger to the Anacortes Police Department. He began as a patrol officer 21 years ago and made his way to administrative captain in 2018. He served as interim chief when former Chief John Small retired in June.

Floyd now oversees a department which had a 2021 budget of $6,194,150 and a body of 27 commissioned officers and 7 noncommissioned staff, including two captains, four sergeants and four corporals. Currently unfilled is the captain position left vacant by Floyd, as well as a noncommissioned community service officer position. The police chief annual salary is $130,020.

Floyd said the opportunity to work for the APD brought him to the community after growing up in Vancouver, Washington, and graduating from Washington State University in 2000.

“I feel extremely fortunate to have spent my entire career in this community,” Floyd told the Anacortes American. “This is such a high quality department.”

He was selected from a pool of three applicants in a process that required a screening interview, a panel interview, meet and greet with stakeholders, and an interview with the mayor.

Mayor Laurie Gere told the Anacortes American that Floyd “shows exceptional leadership and integrity. I am confident that he will continue to build partnerships as he protects and serves this community.”

But the change in leadership is not the only change for the Anacortes Police Department.

Laws passed during the latest state legislative session will require, among other things, body cameras and a change in the way police can respond to certain situations.

Floyd said the department had sought information on getting body cameras several years ago but the new requirement has sped up its timeline to acquire and implement them.

The City Council, in order to make the purchase ahead of the Jan. 1 deadline, moved to amend the 2021 budget and capital facilities plan, which will go to a vote at the Aug. 9 meeting following a public hearing.

The cost of the 28 cameras, including training, delivery and a five-year contract is $100,262. The first year initial cost is $26,630, with $18,408 each of the subsequent four years.

Some of the changes from the recent laws, which include bans on the use of neck restraints and no-knock warrants and regulations of tear gas use and specific surplus military equipment, won’t affect the APD, which either didn’t use the tactics or equipment or already had policies against them, Floyd said.

He wrote in a letter to the City Council that in 21 years at the APD, he has never heard of an officer using a neck restraint or conducting a no-knock warrant. The laws also limit when an officer can engage in a vehicular pursuit.

Floyd said a source of frustration over the new legislation is that while the laws went into effect in late July, the state Office of the Attorney General has until next July to provide guidelines for following the laws.

“We are happy to operate within the boundaries of the law. But we need to know what those boundaries are,” Floyd said.

Council member Ryan Walters said while he agreed with the recent legislation, he said the Office of the Attorney General should provide interim guidance until the permanent guidance is finished. Some areas “seem to box officers in a counterproductive way” and revisions by lawmakers should be expected, he said.

Not all of the challenges in having a safe community can be solved directly within the scope of policing. Floyd cites shortages of affordable housing, and substance abuse and mental health services — shortages not unique to Anacortes.

Most of the resources in Skagit County are at or over capacity, Floyd said.

“It doesn’t matter how many social workers I have on the streets if they are all competing for resources,” Floyd said.

Calls that deal with people with mental health or substance abuse disorders are referred to as “community caretaking” calls, much of which the police will have limited involvement in due to language in the legislation requiring that police leave “the area where no crime or imminent threat is present.”

More and more police have been responding to those situations though they are beyond the scope of traditional law enforcement roles, Floyd said. It’s police that have taken mental health calls at early hours of the morning, when no one else is available.

“Community partnerships have been more necessary than ever. Some of the things we cannot be involved in now, someone has to respond to those,” Floyd said.

Floyd spoke to the council about the recent partnership between the APD and the Anacortes Family Center, of which he is also a board member.

Floyd said there has been success in connecting people experiencing homelessness to resources. The number of people living out of a vehicle on T Avenue is half of what it once was as people have been referred to other options, Floyd said.

Floyd said he hopes to grow the partnership with the Anacortes Family Center and with other organizations such as Island Hospital.

“Welcome aboard chief– new legislation, body cameras– you’re going to be busy,” Gere told Floyd at the meeting. “Thank you for the good work this summer with our homeless population. We’ve probably made the most substantial inroads I’ve ever seen with actually getting people connected to resources.”

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