Weather Forecast


In the Know: A look into bringing Jasmine home

Kristen Tousignant, a family friend, greets Jasmine as her mother addresses the crowd during a welcome home celebration on Friday, Sept. 8 at Living Waters Church in Alexandria. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)

Approximately one month ago, our community faced a significant crisis. It was the sort of crisis that I had not seen during my last decade as the chief of police or even in the previous 24 years of law enforcement experience. I'm sure all of you reading this understand that I am referencing Jasmine Block, who went missing from her residence on August 8. I do not intend to delve into the details of that case, although it is a gripping yet tragic story, with ultimately a positive result. Rather, I'd like to give the citizens of our community a look behind the scenes on the efforts of law enforcement during the month of August and into the early parts of September to bring Jasmine home.

We were incredibly fortunate that our neighboring agencies stepped up to the plate and offered their services. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Corrections consistently sent members of their teams to assist the Alexandria Police Department during this difficult time. I have discussed this before and likely will again because it is an idea that I remain passionate about — community partnerships.

I was simply amazed at the amount of talented people that would show up to the daily briefings held regarding Jasmine. The group would work together to develop a plan of action for the day and the room would spring to life and it seemed that nothing could stop the train once it got rolling. Perhaps the most impressive part of those meetings was the complete and utter lack of ego or other toxic feelings in the room. There was no agency, regardless of how large or small, that purported to be any better than the next. It was a room full of talented and dedicated individuals that had a common goal to bring home a missing girl. There were no issues of jurisdiction, no finger pointing, no negativity, just a group of men and women trying to accomplish an incredibly important task.

I have always believed that we have a fantastic team at the Alexandria Police Department. I still truly believe that. But the members of this agency couldn't possibly have traveled this path alone. The law enforcement profession has become too diverse and widespread for a single individual or even a team of three or four be able to devote the needed resources to a case of this magnitude. The seamless integration of individuals from different agencies working together is the result of those agencies working together ahead of time to develop those relationships before a crisis arises. Being able to focus on the task at hand as soon as our partner agencies arrive on scene is an incredible asset and helps improve efficiency.

I hope that our community is as proud of the Alexandria Police Department as I am; but I am also proud to call the other agencies listed partners. Thank you to all of them as well as the community for your ongoing support.

• • •

Rick Wyffels is the Alexandria police chief. "In the Know" is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.