CANNON BEACH — Longtime resident and former Cannon Beach City Councilor Sam Steidel was sworn in as the city’s mayor Tuesday night.
Steidel, who ran unopposed in the November general election, replaces Mike Morgan, who served as mayor for six years.
The new mayor thanked his supporters briefly before beginning the City Council meeting.
During the meeting, Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn presented a master plan for the police department that includes a new mission statement and several goals.
“We started developing this three years ago with a community forum and some ‘coffee with a cop’ events,” Schermerhorn told the council. “It contains the expectations the community has for us as well as expectations from the police department.”
The department’s three strategic goals are:
• Increase community contact through foot patrols and participation in community events;
• Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of department operations;
• Establish a working environment that encourages teamwork, empowerment, communication and professional development.
Among the core values contained in the plan is a statement that the department “embraces diversity in all its forms, and vows to treat all individuals equally, with empathy, compassion and respect.”
Schermerhorn said the department will, among other projects, increase downtown foot patrols and check local bars more often. The citizens police academy, which he directed while working for the Seaside Police Department, will be expanded to include all law enforcement agencies in Clatsop County. The department also will assume responsibility for the Community Emergency Response Team, which the Cannon Beach Fire & Rescue had been supervising.
The department’s strengths, according to the plan, include an attitude that the officers can mentor each other, a positive community perception, an emphasis on training, flexibility and maintaining a low crime rate. However, the plan notes that the department’s weaknesses include a lack of experience, too many calls, a lack of opportunity to move up in the department and complacency.
Opportunities to overcome those weaknesses, however, include partnerships with the fire district and local businesses, exploring “lateral mobility” that would involve officers becoming detectives and dealing with the increasing volume of tourists in town.
The plan notes that “internal and external” threats also exist that aren’t under the department’s control. By being aware of them and developing programs to respond, however, the department can “greatly reduce the potential for loss,” the plan says.
Those threats include employee retention, a tsunami, lack of a detoxification center, mental health issues, change and community perception.
During the community forum held in November 2013, those attending said the department’s highest priority should be patrols, including foot and bicycle patrols and building and business checks. That priority was closely followed by public assistance, including home security checks, motorist assists, animal control and enforcing the city’s nuisance ordinance.
Emergency response ranked third on the list of community priorities, and that was followed by community relations, traffic enforcement and criminal investigations.