Council approves full-time detective

July 5, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Christy Marsalisi

Christy Marsalisi

The city will likely have a full-time detective on staff in 2014, after the Newcastle City Council unanimously voted to authorize City Manager Rob Wyman to request one from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Newcastle is the only King County partner city that does not have its own full-time detective, though the council did increase Detective Christy Marsalisi to a 50-50 shared position for 2013.

In the current system, Marsalisi spends half of her time working for the city, and the other half working for the unincorporated areas of King County. Once she is bumped to full time, which will likely occur Jan. 1, 2014, she will focus solely on Newcastle cases.

“Even though we bumped me up to 50 percent, we’re still so short-staffed in unincorporated that basically my case load went from being assigned 10 cases a month to being assigned 20 cases a month, so it just increased my workload,” she said. “In this case, I would be solely Newcastle and that’s a huge difference.”

Moving Marsalisi to full time would cost an additional $86,000 annually, but it is something that Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine said is important.

“In order for us to investigate all the crimes, we have to have a detective that can commit the time to Newcastle, and when she’s split between Newcastle and various areas of unincorporated, and different responsibilities, it’s spreading really thin and it’s tough,” she said.

The benefits of adding a full-time detective are numerous, Irvine said, including allowing Marsalisi to respond to calls for immediate assistance, and partner with officers for quicker, more thorough responses to follow-up investigations.

“My No. 1 goal would be to try to start working these cases sooner and getting them solved while everything is fresh in the victims’ or witnesses’ minds,” Marsalisi said. “I think being here full time, without a doubt, I can accomplish that.”

The detective investigates all sorts of crimes, including burglaries, vandalism and trespassing. It is Marsalisi’s duty to conduct witness interviews, write search warrants, identify suspects, review surveillance video and put together case files for a prosecutor.

“The prosecutors right now are just as short-staffed as we are and they’re not going to prosecute something if there is any little loophole,” Marsalisi said. “So, we have to make sure that the case is solid when it goes.”

When asked what she would do to improve public safety, Irvine was steadfast in encouraging the addition of a full-time detective throughout the year.

“I believe that if we investigate, identify the suspects and prosecute the crimes, then those people are going to answer for the crimes they commit, and they’re going to be either incarcerated or they’re not going to come back into the city,” she said.

The council’s Finance Committee did their due diligence on the proposal before bringing it before the full council June 4. They voted 5-0 in favor of the proposal. Councilman Bill Erxleben and Deputy Mayor Lisa Jensen were not present.

“It’s a real deterrent to people if they know that they will be prosecuted for crimes that they commit in the city, and I think it’s been shown in the numbers that there’s an advantage to having more of a detective’s time,” Councilman Steve Buri said. “Of all the priorities that we talk about here, this is the most important to me, and I think it’s important that we move forward.”

The process to add the detective for 2014 began in June 2013 because it takes time for the transition to proceed. It will come up again when the council begins work on the 2014 budget, but Councilman Gordon Bisset implored his colleagues to remember the vote of confidence that was given June 4.

“Nobody should vote for this motion if they are not willing to support it at budget time,” he said.

Marsalisi began her law enforcement career in 1997. She joined the city of Newcastle in 2011 and is excited to call it her home base come 2014.

“I think being just in Newcastle, let’s solve some more crimes, because now I’m not being pulled in 20 directions, I’m pulled into one,” she said. “I think it’s a benefit for everybody.”

A runner and a dog lover, Marsalisi said she felt at home in Newcastle as soon as she arrived.

“Out of all the cities I’ve worked in, Newcastle has been the most friendly, the most open, and it feels like my city,” she said.

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