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Police budget adds more cops to streets
By ERICA JAHN
Federal Way Police chief Anne Kirkpatrick is doing some departmental shuffling to put more police on the streets without asking the city for a lot of money. To that end, the department is prepared to lay off some administrative staff to free up the money for more officers.
By converting three administrative positions and a lieutenant to patrol positions, Kirkpatrick said she could put four more officers on patrol to respond to ever-increasing calls without asking for new money from the city.
One administrative assistant and one financial analyst will be laid off under the budget proposal. The person in the other position, a victim-assistance manager, resigned, Kirkpatrick said, and the lieutenant position will be eliminated through attrition.
The three administrative positions are staffed by civilians.
In addition, Kirkpatrick is requesting new money in her budget proposal to hire two more patrol officers. With six patrol officers total, she could assign one more officer to each of the departments six squads, she said.
Calls for service have increased 13.5 percent over the past year, from 38,678 from January to August 2001 to 45,687 during the same period this year.
With so many calls for assistance, police are finding it difficult to respond to everything quickly.
The public is always concerned about response time, and they should be, Kirkpatrick said. We have been able to maintain relatively consistent response times even though this is being assimilated into the staff I have. But as we plan for the future, we have to plan staffing needs.
In police work, the basics are when you call for police, you want police to respond. My obligation is to staff the department in a manner in which we can respond.
The department has grown from 72 officers in 1999 to 92 anticipated in 2004.
In addition to putting more officers on the street, the department is requesting new money to add a narcotics K9 unit to make searching vehicles and property for drugs faster and more efficient.
Kirkpatrick said the $5,000 budgeted to cover the cost of the K9 unit would be spent on outfitting a vehicle to carry the dog. The department would use an existing officer as a handler and the dog would be acquired for free from a pound, she said, adding that narcotics K9 officers dont require the intense training that general police dogs need.
General government funding provides the majority of revenue for the police department and the amount anticipated in the departments 2003-04 budget. The department is expected to bring in about $23.6 million in 2003 and $24.4 million in 2004.
Gambling-tax revenue provides the next greatest level of funding, expected to be almost $3.5 million in 2003 and almost $3.6 million in 2004.
Salaries and wages are the biggest expenditure for Federal Way Police, and theyre expected to increase by almost 4 percent in 2003-04, with $8.8 million spent on salaries and wages in 2003 and $9.2 million in 2004. The 2003-04 projections include salaries for the two new officers, as well as the departments portion of two new school resource officers.
If the City Council allocates new money for them, one of the new school resource officers would work at the new high school and the other would be available to provide backup and to fill in when regular school officers were sick or on vacation. Federal Way Public Schools covers 75 percent of the costs of the resource officers.
Those four positions are contingent upon the council allocating new funds for them.
Overtime pay is anticipated to increase 24 percent, with $255,000 projected for 2003 and $255,000 for 2004. The cost of providing benefits is expected to increase almost 15 percent, with $2.2 million in 2003 and $2.3 million in 2004.
The department expects costs for jail service to drop almost 17 percent, thanks to new contracts with jurisdictions that dont charge as much to house prisoners as King County. Jail costs are projected to be about $1.3 million in 2003 and almost $1.4 million in 2004.
Using Valley Communications for dispatch service is projected to cost 950,000 in 2003 and about $1 million in 2004, down about 2 percent from 2002.
Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and firstname.lastname@example.org