Aberdeen police chief fields questions about crime at first community meeting

More than 55 people filled the Rotary Log Pavilion in Aberdeen Thursday night to hear Aberdeen’s new Police Chief Steve Shumate talk about his plans for the department and voice their concerns to him.

Shumate started off by saying that his “number one priority” is to combat illegal drug activity, and he spent much of the two-hour meeting addressing the public’s concerns about drug use around town, as well as activities related to the homeless population.

“When it comes to burglaries, thefts, vehicle prowls, robberies, and other crimes, a high percentage of the time those crimes are being committed to fuel a drug addiction,” said Shumate. “So my feeling is we need to be far more proactive in dealing with the illegal drug activity that’s going on.”

Between now and June 1, Shumate said there would likely be seven new people added to the department, including several new officers.

Several people who spoke at the meeting said they wish there were more officers on staff to deal with issues like finding used heroin needles around town.

“I’ve got to walk through Sam Benn Park and make sure there aren’t any needles for my 3-year-old to step on while going to the playground,” said Alicia Healy. “I’m calling the police department, and you guys don’t even have enough officers to respond. I have to call ServPro to get a needle picked up.”

Healy went on to say she appreciated Shumate holding community meetings to allow the public to voice concerns, and didn’t recall ever having this kind of public forum with previous police chiefs. Several others who attended the meeting told The Daily World or posted on social media that they were impressed with how Shumate handled the meeting.

This was the first of three such community meetings, the next being being Oct. 18 and 25 at the Shoppes at Riverside Community Room and Oct. 25 at the Port of Grays Harbor Commissioner’s room, both starting at 6:30 p.m.