Sunnyside police chief wants you to voice concerns to officers

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Sunnyside's new police chief wants to take his department in a different direction. Chief Al Escalera has a plan to build relationships with the people in his city.

Sunnyside police officers want to hear from you. New police chief Al Escalera believes you're the key to making the city safer.

"It is what you look forward to on a daily basis, and so you should be able to enjoy that on a daily basis, and the only way you're going to be able to do that is to be part of the solution," said Escalera.

Escalera wants officers to build more personal relationships with the community: true neighborhood policing to learn people's concerns and set priorities.

"You can't know everything unless you go talk to people," said neighbor Larry Harmon. "And everybody's pretty honest and wants a good community to live in."

Harmon thinks being open with police will help get a handle on crime. His neighborhood isn't always quiet.

"We don't like having to wake up in the middle of the night with gunshots ringing out," said Harmon.

Escalera wants his officers thinking on the same page. It's about being proactive instead of reactive. He also wants to work more closely with other law enforcement agencies.

"It's crucial," said Escalera. "We can't do it alone. We do it with one another's resources, we help each other out."

"I moved up here 21 years ago and I've made it my home," said Harmon. "And people go, 'Why do you live in Sunnyside?' Well, this is my home."

Sunnyside's police officers will go through training for their neighborhood outreach. The outreach program should start in a couple of months.