Sweeping changes at Hermiston Police could lead to safer streets

HERMISTON, Ore. -- Hermiston Police call it the biggest change to their department in two decades. In one fell swoop, officers are being re-shuffled, all with the goal of clamping down on crime.

2012 got off to a sour start in Hermiston. On January 9th, a suspected gang member was shot dead at one of the town's' busiest gas stations. In the aftermath of that incident, an overall rise in crime, Hermiston Police started off at square one. Knowing that there's safety in numbers, the department hired three additional patrol officers. In addition, four existing officer were promoted to sergeants.

By having more supervisors on the force, it means there's extra eyes in cases that need it the most.

"Sergeants truly are the rubber that meets the road. They're the first line of defense for citizens, and for the department," says Police Chief Jason Edmiston.

Police say it could make the Columbia Basin safer as a whole. Officers tell KEPR most of the criminals in Hermiston also cause trouble in the Tri-Cities; so if those criminals are nabbed, it could lead to a drop in crime overall.

Violent crime is down 40% in Hermiston this year. As good as that sounds, officers hope the new changes will help them make even more headway.