Lacey police Cmdr. Dusty Pierpoint says wearing his
uniform into a room of high school students easily leads to a
meaningful discussion about stereotyping.
"High school kids think all we're out doing is harassing them,"
He points out that preconceived notions on both sides builds
distrust between the police and students.
"I'll say, 'Wait a minute. Don't talk to me about stereotyping.
Just because I'm a cop, you thought you knew who I am, all about me
just because of the uniform I'm wearing,' " he said, recalling some
of the discussions at local high schools.
"We have a lot of good conversations that way," he added.
Pierpoint, 38, has focused the past few years on kindling trust
between the police and the community, whether with high school
students or adults.
His superiors say he has been instrumental in working with local
high schools and implementing programs that rely on citizens' help
in solving crimes.
"He's put in thousands of hours of community involvement on his
own, and he hasn't really been compensated for any of it," Chief
Larry Dickerson said.
As one of the department's three commanders, Pierpoint oversees
detectives, internal investigations, drug officers and the school
resource officers, who are assigned to cover the city's three high
He's also been assigned as commander of a county narcotics task
Before being promoted to his current rank, Pierpoint was assigned
as a police liaison to the North Thurston School District.
He was in daily contact with students and administrators, working
closely on school safety issues. School officials say his work paved
the way for the current School Resource Office program, which places
police officers full-time in local high schools.
Pierpoint sees the program as invaluable.
"These young adults are going to become citizens in our
community. I think we've made some real progress there," he said.
North Thurston Superintendent Jim Koval credited Pierpoint with
laying the groundwork for the School Resource Officer program, which
places officers on-duty in local high schools.
Pierpoint is coordinating another project under way called the
Citizens Roundtable, which is a forum meant to open up dialogue
between citizens and the police.
The group comprises people of varying ages and ethnic
backgrounds. The goal is not only to educate citizens about police
work, but to hear feedback and hear what's happening in the
community, Pierpoint said
"We want to be progressive and be on top of crime trends," he
Pierpoint started with the department after high school as one of
Lacey's first community service officers.
The program gives young adults a chance to explore a career in
law enforcement. Community service officers transport prisoners to
jail and assist officers at a traffic accident.
"If it hadn't been for the CSO program, I don't know I would have
gotten in as early as I did," he said.
Pierpoint moved to Thurston County when he was in the fourth
grade. His father took a job as one of the county's first
Toward the end of high school, Pierpoint knew he wanted to pursue
a career in public service. The choice, however, was between putting
on a badge as a cop or following his father's footsteps to become a
firefighter, he said.
"What I liked about the police department is you're out serving
law enforcement functions more often than firefighters are out
fighting fires," he said.
In April, he'll attend the prestigious FBI National Academy in
"I've been extremely lucky to have opportunities," Pierpoint
said. "This city has offered some wonderful opportunities. If some
of them hadn't been there, I don't know where I'd be now."
Pierpoint graduated from Timberline High School in 1983. He's
been married for 15 years to his wife, Shelly, with whom he has two
children, a 17-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.