Former Pasco police chief Don Francis dies at 79

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldMarch 7, 2013 

Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield remembers a night early in his tenure when then-Police Chief Don Francis took Crutchfield and several council members on a tour of some downtown bars to show them just how bad the crime was in Pasco in the late 1980s.

It was a time when drugs and prostitution were rampant in the small city's downtown area, and police were responding to three burglaries a day.

"He helped us craft an ordinance where the council would revoke business licenses for businesses found guilty of unlawful activities," Crutchfield said. "I think we closed six or seven businesses in about a three-year period because of the illegal activity that was going on. (Francis) was on the forefront of that turnaround."

Francis, 79, died Tuesday in Kennewick, and leaves behind a legacy as the man who began Pasco's transformation into a safer place to live.

Francis served as the city's police chief from 1983 until he retired in 1995. By the time he left the city, the crime rate had dropped 36 percent through a campaign that added six new officers, created think-tank sessions with city residents and tightened police procedures.

He spent a total of 35 years in law enforcement, including 23 years in the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in Florida, where he led the 96-member detective division.

He said on his retirement that his toughest year was 1987, when an intoxicated Water Follies crowd turned on Pasco police officers and five people were murdered in an auto body shop.

Crutchfield said in addition to Francis' efforts to clean up crime, he remembers the former police chief as a "gentleman."

"It was often a term used to describe Don," Crutchfield said. "I enjoyed working with him. He was very level-headed. The (officers) respected him for his even-handed approach to things."

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