Methow Valley native happy to be back

By Ann McCreary

Twisp’s newly hired police officer, Stephen Purtell, says he’s happy to be back home in the Methow Valley.

Purtell, 29, lived in the valley from the age of 4 and graduated from the alternative high school in 2006. He has joined the Twisp Police Department as its third officer, and anticipates attending Law Enforcement Academy in November.

Photo by Ann McCreary Stephen Purtell has been hired by the Twisp Police Department.

Photo by Ann McCreary

Stephen Purtell has been hired by the Twisp Police Department.

Purtell enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2009 and served through 2015, including one year in the infantry in Iraq. He was stationed in Oahu, Hawaii, and most recently at Fort Lewis near Tacoma.

He and his wife, Yesenia, and their son Ezekiel, 2, moved to the Methow Valley in March last year and have a home near Winthrop.

“We moved back because the valley sucks you in. It’s a sweet place. Both our families are here. We have a great support system,” Purtell said.

Purtell said he’s always been interested in law enforcement, and when he heard that the Twisp Police Department was seeking a new officer he decided to pursue the job.

Initially the police department was seeking a lateral hire — an officer with training and experience. Purtell said he did ride-alongs with Chief Paul Budrow and officer Ty Sheehan and when the third officer position was opened up to applicants without previous law enforcement experience, “I went for it.”

Budrow said Purtell is currently working as a code enforcement officer, enforcing town ordinances related to public nuisances such as abandoned vehicles, noise, damage by pets, and garbage.

“He’s doing a lot of the work we haven’t had time to do,” Budrow said. Purtell will be working with the public “in more of an educational role, because we haven’t enforced them in so long.”

Purtell will be explaining violations of the town ordinances to residents and warning them if they are out of compliance before issuing any citations, Budrow said.

“Within the next month or so we will start writing citations” if people don’t correct the problems, Budrow said.

Training at the Law Enforcement Academy in Burien lasts about four-and-a-half months, and after completion Purtell will work in Twisp as a “field training officer,” for about nine weeks, receiving on-the-job guidance from his fellow officers, Budrow said.

Purtell serves in the Army Reserves as a human resource specialist, and said he expects to continue that work, which involves going to Marysville one weekend a month and doing two weeks of training each year.

He also plans to continue working toward his bachelor’s degree in business administration, and has only four online classes left to complete the degree through Post University in Connecticut. “I might do an associate degree in criminal justice after that,” he said.