Opinion | Contrasts as Valley towns split, merge over police

An interesting contrast. That might be the phrase I’d use to describe the two police situations in the Upper and Lower Valley right now.

At the same time as Snoqualmie is gearing up and hiring up to become the contract police agency for the city of North Bend, Carnation and Duvall are parting ways after nine years. There’s a huge question mark right now over who will cover Carnation residents,  and how the city will pay for it all after next year. Duvall scooted after questioning the stability of a Carnation-contracted force, so who’s next? What will they bring to the table?

There’s lessons here for Snoqualmie and North Bend. Residents need stable law enforcement, preferably with officers in for the long haul to learn the nitty-gritty of a community. Both cities will need to pay attention to costs and expectations over time to make sure that a similar situation doesn’t unfold here 10 years down the road.

I’m less concerned about disconnect. Snoqualmie Police Chief Steve McCulley lives in North Bend and has a pretty good idea about what police need to do there to deal with resident and merchant concerns over drugs and transients.

It’s the long-term changes that happen to communities that I wonder over, though. Snoqualmie and North Bend, traditionally rivals, are in the slow process of growing together, with shared schools, museums, open space and soon, a police department.

I’ve been going through the archives a lot lately for our upcoming centennial Then & Now edition, and I can’t help but notice how things have changed in the Lower Valley. Carnation went from having a town marshal to a police department that was sometimes troubled with investigations into officer wrongdoing. Then it went with the county, then Duvall, and now, probably, the sheriff again. But you can’t go home again, by which I mean that the startup costs of bringing back even a tiny, independent Carnation police force are probably prohibitive. Maybe the town should just hire a marshal.


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