Under sheriff’s contract, Granite Falls and its new chief settle in

GRANITE FALLS — The bell rang on the front door of the Granite Falls Hardware store as Police Chief David Bowman walked in Thursday morning.

The chief stopped by to collect a statement from the owner about a recent shoplifting case.

Another man in the store greeted the chief by his first name.

The man had some information to pass along, he said.

Bowman told him to come on by the station later.

Bowman, a 45-year-old Snohomish County sheriff’s sergeant, is the new police chief in Granite Falls. Earlier this year, the city entered into a sheriff’s contract for law enforcement services, similar to what’s in place in other towns, including Snohomish and Stanwood.

Bowman and four deputies are assigned to patrol Granite Falls and the surrounding areas. The contract runs through 2018, City Clerk Darla Reese said.

The former Granite Falls Police Department, now a sheriff’s office substation, looks a little different these days. Some bushes outside have been torn out and replaced with three Japanese maple saplings donated by a nearby assisted living center.* The roof had a leak, so city public works supervisor Brent Kirk replaced some of the stained ceiling tiles, Bowman said.

The sheriff’s office had a volunteer work party to spruce up the place. They vacuumed and painted. Secretary Carol Bello, a master gardener who runs the front desk, brings in fresh-cut flowers from home.

On Thursday, Bowman stopped by City Hall to check on the status of permits for some potential businesses coming to town.

Bowman was a police officer in Colorado before joining the sheriff’s office in 2000, he said.

He grew up in the Bothell and Woodinville area. His grandfather raised cattle nearby.

He spent years on graveyard shifts in north and east county, including the Granite Falls area.

Granite Falls has changed over the past decade or so, he said. More services are available now. However, as in many places in the county, homelessness and heroin contribute to property crimes.

“This is an organized, close-knit community that’s really rallied to improve itself,” he said.

Bowman was among the deputies assigned to Snohomish when the sheriff’s contract there started a few years ago. At first, he was apprehensive about working in a city that just lost its own police department. That changed quickly, he said.

“I spent all day patrolling the city with people waving at me,” he said.

In Granite Falls, Bowman has been meeting with folks from the school district, City Hall and Fire Chief Jim Haverfield. They want to update the city’s safety plans for large-scale emergencies and disasters.

“Granite Falls probably has one of the best core groups of dedicated people I’ve ever seen in a community,” he said.

The deputies in Granite Falls are driving sheriff’s cars and wearing green-and-tan uniforms, Bowman said. People may see more squad cars around because deputies assigned to the larger area now will be coming to the police station to file their reports and log evidence.

Folks in town also want to expand the current Boys &Girls Club, he said. Some fundraising efforts are under way.

Bowman’s first Neighborhood Watch meeting was held in May. The next meeting is set for 6 p.m. June 16 at the Granite Falls Middle School multipurpose room. Anyone who lives in the area is invited.

The deputies are aiming to reduce the number of car prowls, particularly at trailheads along the Mountain Loop Highway, Bowman said.

Deputy Tom Dalton is assigned to partner with the U.S. Forest Service. Reporting crimes along the highway can be problematic because of the lack of cell-phone service, Bowman said. The police department has stocked report forms at the Verlot Ranger Station to make it easier for folks.

Granite Falls deputies also now will review all car prowl reports along the highway, to look for trends and to see if recovered property can be returned to owners, Bowman said.

“The deputies assigned here know the area, they know the people,” he said.

On Thursday, a white pickup pulled up to Bowman’s patrol car, off the Mountain Loop. The chief rolled down his window.

The man wanted to know why a TV camera crew was hanging around a few days ago.

“That was for the motor home that rammed into the house,” Bowman said.

The man thanked him. He didn’t have Internet at his campsite, so he’d wondered, he said.

As the morning wore on, dispatchers received a complaint about teenagers pulling each other on a tricycle behind a pickup.

Bowman knew it was the seniors’ last day of school. He found the truck. The tricycle was in the bed. The pickup had a metal bar obscuring the license plate and a flashing yellow light on top.

Bowman told the driver, 18, to get his truck street-legal and check back within a week, or he’d get a citation.

A burglary call came over the radio. Bowman knew the address, off the main drag. The kids who live there sometimes climb in through the windows. The behavior can alarm others.

On his way to the house, he saw the woman who’d called 911. She gave him a thumbs up.

He cruised past the house in case, stopping to talk to the woman for a few moments.

Then he headed back to the Granite Falls police station.

“It’s very small, but there’s just so much going on,” he said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

More about Granite Falls policing

Find updates on the “Granite Falls Police Department” page on Facebook.

The Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies assigned to Granite Falls are Sgt. David Bowman, Tom Dalton, Brandon Charboneau, Scott Berg and Ryan Boyer.

In the coming weeks, Boyer is expected to be re-assigned, and deputy Keith Poteet will join the team. Poteet worked for the former city police department and was hired by the sheriff’s office.

Correction, June 9, 2014: The Japanese maple trees outside the sheriff’s office substation were donated by Gen-Care Assisted Living. The source of the trees was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

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