Tim Clifford
Captain Steve Wilske is the new Commander for the Southwest Precinct. He bring his background in SWAT, mounted patrol, and more from a 25 year career with the department.

Getting to know the new precinct captain

Steve Wilske takes over as captain of the southwest precinct

by Tim Clifford

From a list of the different positions and titles that the new southwest precinct captain, Steve Wilske, has had during his time with the Seattle Police Department one position brings a visible change to his face.

It comes when asked about his time working on mounted patrol and it is a large grin. Wilske describes his time with this unit as “pure fun” and then mentions that the horse he rode back then currently lives on his farm. “They were kind enough when he got too old they retired him out to my farm, so actually he and I have been buddies since I rode him” say Wilske. During this story I am informed that this horse, Donovan, is the horse that Wilske was riding during the 1999 WTO protests.

Along with mounted patrol Wilske has worn many other “hats” during the 25 years he has been with the Seattle Police Department. He was a commander of a patrol watch in the west precinct from 2000-2004, was a commander for SWAT for 5 years, and in 2009 became commander for the Homicide and CSI unit.

“SWAT was right up there though because I enjoy that kind of stuff and those were the hardest working group of guys I have ever worked around and Homicide was probably the most interesting”, Wilske said.

Before his assignment as captain of the southwest precinct, Wilske was tasked by the department with developing policy for the Force Investigation Team or FIT. This “team” was created in compliance with a settlement agreement between the Justice Department and the City of Seattle regarding the use of force by police officers. “They’re going to be getting constant feedback from the monitoring team, so they may make small tweaks to it but I don’t think it will need to change a whole lot simply because we based it off of the settlement agreement and direction from the monitor when we developed it,” he said.

The southwest precinct is new ground for him.

He has been attending as many community meetings as possible lately to get a feel for the area. When asked about his goals as precinct captain, Wilske said “within the precinct to provide an enjoyable work environment for my folks. Outside the precinct to be as responsive as humanly possible to the community and get to know people in the community”.

He also mentions a desire to make himself and the department more directly accessible to the community at large. “The ultimate goal is if you have a concern you don’t have to wait till the monthly meeting. You can get to us now. If there is a problem, I don’t want to wait for a month and then hear about it and say “okay, well I will get back to you”. The idea is to find out as quickly as we can and get it resolved as quickly as we can”. Proof of this sentiment was shown at Tuesday night’s community safety meeting where Wilske handed out his direct number to concerned citizens who were in attendance.

Starting out as a commercial diver those many years ago when he first attended Highline Community College, Wilske eventually changed course. He describes his prior jobs as “fun” but lacking fulfillment. When describing working for the Seattle Police Department he sums it up with “This is the best job I have ever had”.

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