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Reluctant at first, but Jeter assumes role as the city's top cop

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By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

At 37, Bryan Jeter is one of the youngest police chiefs in the area. He has served as Bonney Lake's chief for the last three years, after starting on the force as an officer in 1988.

When he graduated from nearby White River High School in 1984, being a police officer had not crossed his mind. "Heck no. I had no idea I'd be a cop," he said. "But when I was a senior I took a college aptitude test and it said I should be a police officer."

A three-sport varsity athlete at White River, he was heading to Olympic College to play football after graduating. "The day I was leaving for college, Lt. (Jim) Osborn from the Buckley Police Department asked me if I was interested in becoming a policeman. I told him about the test and he said to take some classes at college and come back when I was 21."

He played football at college, but after an ankle injury his interests changed. He took some classes in introductory law enforcement and the road opened. He graduated from the police academy, was hired as a reserve officer by the Buckley Police Department and in 1988 he was hired as a Bonney Lake officer.

Jeter finished his undergraduate degree while working full-time as an officer. First, he attended Green River Community College, working the graveyard shift and going to school during the day. The final two years he completed through a distance-learning program offered by Washington State University.

His ability to work hard and focus, traits he fostered as a young athlete, have come to serve him well as the police chief of the fastest growing city in Pierce County, a town that is adding nearly 1,000 new residents a year.

"Crime is increasing as the population is increasing," Jeter said. "The majority of the crime is on the 410 corridor. But faster growth brings increased crime, and that's tough to swallow."

The rapid growth both in and around Bonney Lake means change. Change in the community and change in the way the police must react. "Policing is changing day by day," Jeter said. "We have to change methods to keep up."

Since the late 1990s, laptop computers are in all squad cars, providing the officer with a wealth of data at his fingertips. "The officer can run reports and sometimes get pictures right in the field. It's really helped," Jeter said.

Last year, Jeter attended and graduated from the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va. The highly-regarded three-month graduate level training accepts only 1 percent of all law enforcement officers across the country.

"It's a very prestigious program. I was really fortunate to be there with officers from the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) and NYPD (New York Police Department), officers from all over the country. It was overwhelming to a small town person like me," Jeter said.

With his wife of eight years, Andra, and two young children, Jeter said he feels at home and plans on staying right where he is. "I never get stagnant. I'm coming up on three years since I was named interim chief and the time has flown by. I won't be disappointed to stay here for 15 years."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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