With nearly three decades of law enforcement experience under his belt, Westport’s new police chief will be on the job Monday, Aug. 11. A former Yakima resident, Tracy Rosenow, 54, has served as Chief of the City of Wapato Police Department for the past three years, a position he also held there in 1995 and 1996.
Rosenow replaces former Westport Police Chief Bill Gibson, who served the City for 27 years prior to his recent retirement. Gibson’s last official day on the job was July 31. He is currently using accumulated vacation and sick leave hours until they run out, at which time he will officially separate from the City of Westport.
Gibson and his wife Bertha are relocating to Oregon to be closer to family members.
With his move to Westport, Rosenow takes over the administration of a police department that is less than half the size of Wapato’s. The City of Westport Police Department employs a chief, one lieutenant, five officers and two clerks, with a current-year budget of $892,000.
Administration of the City of Wapato Police Department includes overseeing not only a patrol division, but also a 77-bed jail facility. The patrol division has 11 budgeted positions that include patrol officers, two patrol sergeants, an assistant chief, a school resource officer, one detective, one full time administrative assistant and a part-time records clerk.
The annual operating budget for the patrol division in Wapato is a little more than a million dollars per year.
As Wapato’s police chief, Rosenow also served as the administrator of a 77-bed jail facility with a current-year operating budget of more than $800,000. The jail employs seven corrections officers. In addition to local jail housings, Wapato also contracts for inmate housing, with the majority of offenders coming from Fife, Lakewood and Union Gap.
Geographically, the new chief will be covering more area, but with a much smaller population density. Wapato has close to 5,100 residents living in a 1.17-square-mile area, compared to Westport’s population of around 2,100 that shares 4.5 square miles of municipal space.
Law enforcement career
In his 27-year law enforcement career, Rosenow has served three different communities. He spent his first 10 years at Wapato, where he worked his way up through the ranks from patrol officer to Chief of Police between late 1986 and December of 1996.
Rosenow left Wapato to join the Selah Police Department in January of 1997, where he stayed 14 years. He spent his first four years there as a patrol officer, working his way up to sergeant.
He remained with Selah until the fall of 2010, when he joined the Stillaguamish Police Department in Arlington as a patrol officer. Six months into that position, he was offered the opportunity to serve as Wapato’s Interim Police Chief. For the next seven months, Rosenow commuted to the west side of the Cascades, working a full schedule for the Stillaguamish Tribe and working his job in Wapato for 25-30 hours a week until his selection as Wapato’s Chief of Police in June, 2012.
Motives for move
Rosenow says that he and his wife Thea are making the move to Westport for several reasons, including a salary and benefits bump. Based on his years of experience, the City of Westport and Rosenow have agreed to a contract with a starting salary of $76,000 per year that also includes the same benefits package that other City of Westport salaried employees receive.
While Rosenow says the raise is nice, what’s more important to him is that this position will allow him to have a much more interactive role with citizens in the community.
“I enjoy getting out in the community and have really missed that aspect of the work,” he said, noting that in his position as chief at Wapato the great majority of his job involved ‘seat time.’
“There is always administrative work to do, but it’s also important for me to get out of the office, be on patrol and to get to know people around the city and to be responsive to them.
“I’m really looking forward to that opportunity here. I want to hear about the concerns of Westport residents and then address them. To that end, I intend to make myself available on a regular basis,” he said.
Rosenow says that another strong motivation for both him and his wife to move to Westport is the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone.
“We were both born and raised in Yakima County. We met at Toppenish High School, married and raised our two sons here and have never lived anywhere else.
“We both see this as an opportunity to explore another part of our state, and where better to be than on the South Beach next to the Pacific Ocean?”
The couple’s sons have married and remain in eastern Washington, with one living in Yakima County and the other in Walla Walla County. The Rosenows also have three young grandchildren.