How A Town’s One Detective Handles His Caseload

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The Seattle Post-Intelligencer describes what it’s like to be the one detective in a small town, in this case, Pacific, Wash., population 5,900: “If this small city in South King County experiences a homicide, Jim Pickett will be there to investigate. If someone breaks into your house here, Pickett will show up. If a child is abused, he will be the one taking the report. And if the patrol division of the 10-member Pacific Police Department gets overwhelmed, Pickett will jump into his unmarked police car and ticket abandoned vehicles, check out car break-ins or stop a suspected drunken driver. Oh, and he will process almost all the evidence in each case — something technicians often do in bigger departments — and do all of the follow-up investigations.”

With police everywhere trying to work harder and do more with pared budgets in a soured economy, Pickett’s job epitomizes the pressure on individual officers these days.

Pickett, 47, is a former newspaper reporter. Of his current job, he says, “I have a great time. It’s a lot of fun. Where else can you go out and catch the criminals and lock them up?”

In one neighborhood dispute, he spent 1 1/2 hours negotiating a compromise before a situation blew up. That kind of time for a relatively minor case would be unheard of in many larger departments, he said.


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