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Arlington names Ventura as city's new police chief


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Jonathan Ventura was recently named to be Arlington's new police chief.

Longtime Arlington police officer Jonathan Ventura was appointed as the city's new police chief on June 6.

Ventura is a military veteran, formerly stationed out of Naval Station Everett, and previously worked for the Department of Justice with the DEA.

After that service he said he had an interest in getting into law enforcement and looked into multiple police agencies around Puget Sound, including Seattle and Renton, but chose to come to Arlington.

"What appealed to me, as a single father at the time, was that this seemed like a great community," he said.

That was a little more than 16 years ago and since then Ventura has met his wife here and has two children in Arlington schools.

"I still think this is a great community," he said. "I take the concerns of the community seriously because this is my community."

While serving on the city's police department he has been a patrol officer, school resource officer, detective, detective sergeant and patrol sergeant, among other positions in the department.

In February 2015 he was promoted to deputy chief and this June he became the city's newest police chief.

"He was a natural choice for our next police chief," said Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert, who called Ventura an open collaborative leader.

Tolbert was glad to see so much support from the community for Ventura's promotion to police chief.

"To see people standing room only at the swearing-in ceremony," was encouraging, she said.

Arlington went a little more than two years without a police chief as Bruce Stedman, the city's former fire chief, served as public safety director.

"It was always the intent to go back to a police chief model," said Tolbert. In 2014 the city hired a consultant to look at the police department and they concluded change was needed.

"The community was saying that we weren't hitting the right mark on some things," said Tolbert.

Stedman was brought in on a two-year contract to make the department more accountable and efficient.

"Our fire chief had a unique set of skills in leading teams," said Tolbert, who said he was good at energizing talent and professional development.

"He helped the district really refocus and added a community policing model that helped address some of the public safety issues that all communities are dealing with now," said Tolbert. "I have nothing but respect for the job that Stedman did."

Ventura said Stedman really helped the police department connect with the community.

"Every department says they're community oriented, but when Bruce Stedman came in here two years ago he asked us 'are we really doing what we say we're doing?'" he said.

Ventura said that patrol officers were talking directly with the community at block and community meetings and other venues.

"Stedman has done an amazing job building those connections," he said.

Stedman will return to his role as the city's fire chief, which he served as before working as the public safety director.

Ventura hopes to continue and expand those connections.

He also wants to build talent from within the police department.

"We want the best training we can get for our officers to make them as professional as they can be," he said.

The rising drug problems are another issue that he hopes to tackle.

"We have been gripped nationwide with this heroin epidemic and we have to continue to respond to changing needs," said Ventura.

With drugs, he said, come homelessness, theft and mental health problems.

Sarah Arney

Bruce Stedman, who has served as Arlington's Public Safety Director for the past two years, will return to his position as the city's fire chief.

"As a police department we can't solve all of those problems," said Ventura.

He hopes to go forward with a "holistic community approach" that includes more social solutions and cultivating relationships with organizations that can help in the ways that police can't.

Ventura recently spoke with legislators in Olympia about addressing mental health, addiction and homelessness issues and serves on the advisory board for the Arlington Community Resource Center.

Ventura said he's glad to be able to lead the Arlington Police Department.

"I'm honored and humbled to have this opportunity," he said.

"I have the greatest level of respect and admiration for him," said Tolbert, who said Ventura's work ethic and the way he approaches the job is the right fit for Arlington.


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