Chief’s Note:

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nolan Wentz, and I have had the honor of being your Police Chief for just over three months. I have over 32 years of experience in law enforcement in Yakima and the Yakima Valley. I hope to use my experiences to help develop and bring the best service to the citizens of the City of Wapato. Although this has been a difficult time, I wish to thank those I have had the opportunity to meet for your warm welcome and look forward to meeting many more soon.

I would like to take a moment to speak of the extremely dedicated and professional officers and staff who make up the Wapato Police Department. And to let you know the amazing performance from them, I have been witness to.

First, it began with an aid call to a home on S. Camas Avenue that took place on May 11th, 2020. Officers Lawther and Lounsbury overhead an aid call being dispatched to the address regarding a 66- year-old woman who was being administered CPR. Deputy Grosz also responded, and the three officers found the unresponsive patient. Officer Lawther and Lounsbury took over life-saving CPR, and the AED device Deputy Grosz brought in was used to help restart the patent’s heart. Without their quick action, the patient would have had no chance to survive. A quick note, this was Officer Lounsbury’s sixth day of duty with the Wapato Police Department.

As many are aware, June 1st was an eventful and trying day, but has shown me the dedication and caring the Wapato officers have for their community. Officer Sandoval and Sgt. Deccio responded to a call on Kateri Lane that resulted in an Amber Alert Activation for a 3-year-old Melody Lopez. Resources were extremely thin during this time due to an extremely high profile and dangerous event taking place at the same time a short distance away. Sgt. Deccio and Officer Sandoval began quickly contacting possible locations for the suspect in this incident in both Union Gap and Selah but had little success obtaining valuable information. It was determined events of this incident did qualify for the Amber Alert activation, which was placed at 8:22 pm. The van used in this crime was quickly located from information from alert neighbors. This began an extensive search with the assistance of numerous outside agencies. However, neither the suspect nor the child was located.

The following morning resulted in continued efforts to locate the suspect and the child without success, however, soon after returning for their shift, Officer Sandoval, and Officer Lounsbury began backtracking the suspects’ movements through assistance with the helpful Wapato citizens. That evening, at about 10:30 pm, while responding to a dispatch call, Officer Sandoval spotted a subject in the south alley of 400 Block of W. 1st street. This subject, who was carrying a large suitcase, drew their attention due to his appearance. As they neared him to check, they recognized him as the suspect wanted in the Amber Alert. The officers quickly took him into custody and then discovered the missing 3-year-old was inside the suitcase. She was found unharmed and was quickly reunited with her mother.

I believe it would be difficult to come up with an ending to a case more successful than this. If it were not for the tireless efforts of these officers, this story might have had a much worse result. These two incidents demonstrate the truly outstanding work of these officers. I see on a near-daily basis, a dedication to the community that cannot be dismissed as only “doing their job.” Please, join me in congratulating these fine officers and staff in their efforts to help make Wapato a better place to live.