by Kirby Lindsay
Seattle Police Department (SPD) Captain Robin Clark doesn’t really need an introduction. She may be new to her posting as head of the North Precinct, but having served over 29 years with SPD (“I hired on when I was 9,” she jokes) she has a good idea what to expect, at North Precinct. “I’m glad to be here, honestly,” she admitted.
Captain Clark mused that she has worked “at almost every precinct.” Her assignments have included Watch Commander at North Precinct and at South Precinct, SWAT Commander, and Motorcycle Commander in the Traffic Department. She worked as a detective doing background checks, then in sex crimes, and then homicide – during which she served on the Green River Task Force. As a Sergeant, she worked Internal Investigations, and she has taught supervision and community policing techniques to supervisors.
Clark has pledged to herself, “the day I stop learning is the day I need to leave.” She has gained “all kinds of training through SPD,” including workshops on job related skills like interview techniques and evidence collection, and attending SWAT Commander school. She also described on-the-job training opportunities such as serving on sex crimes and being called to a homicide scene where she learned from the other detectives.
“When I came on the department, I set out to be widely experienced,” she explained. “I believe in being competent at the grade you are at before moving on,” Cpt. Clark explained, “I didn’t want to just take tests and climb.” She has climbed, but having started at SPD in 1980, she has given time to each assignment. “My experience is quite vast,” she admitted, and “I’ve had a great time doing it.” As to her latest assignment, she said, “this is going to be a nice place to learn.”
Ready for the Next Step
“Customer service is my priority,” she explained, “it’s been my guiding principle. I think the North Precinct has done a good job under [her predecessor] Captain Washburn,” she acknowledged, but she’d like to see more – externally and internally.
Her previous assignment, in traffic, certainly gave her a front row view of external SPD customer service. North Precinct covers an “extremely large and diversified area,” much of it has competing demands, she clarified, and there must be equal service throughout, “Lake City as is Fremont.”
Neighborhood policing is science driven, she explained, with officers deployed according to the level of activity. Every neighborhood does not have the same number of officers on the ground, but Clark insisted all neighborhoods must receive the same level of service, and the same quality of service.
As to internal customer service, the Captain believes that provides the external. “Taking good care of the people who work for us,” as Clark described, means that “if they are getting what they need, that attitude is taken outside.”
“I think communication exists,” she said, “but it can always be improved.” To better serve citizens, Captain Clark would like our help with early reports on a problem, “before it becomes really huge.”
To report a crime, or any emergency, call 9-1-1. Non-emergencies can reported at 206/635-5011. For chronic problems, Captain Clark recommends contacting community policing, and Sergeant Diane Newsom, at 206/684-0794 or, for Fremont, Officer Larry Jackson.
Additionally, everyone may attend the monthly North Precinct Advisory Council meetings - a public, open forum between police and citizens - held on the 1st Wednesday of each month (the next is February 3) at 7p.m. on the North Seattle Community College campus.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.