We are not in Mayberry, U.S.A. Years ago, it might have been acceptable to have one sheriff and one deputy on duty.
Times have changed and so has the Snoqualmie Police Department. They have done a good job to make this a very safe city. So when I read the bean counters’ version of why the city is so over protected in last week’s Valley Record (Under Fire), I thought I should make a few observations to the statements that were made.
The idea that “two patrol officers on duty 24 hours a day are not needed” is a very serious safety issue for the officers and the public. A single officer on duty can not always count on the King County Sheriffs Department or Washington State Patrol for backup if they need help. Would you want to wait for that additional officer to arrive, or would you rather have two officers ready to respond as soon as the call comes in?
Also, the residents of King County that live around Snoqualmie directly count on the Snoqualmie Police Department for assistance because often there are no King County officers in the area due to lack of manpower. As for comparing the ratio numbers between Snoqualmie and other cities, ask the patrol officers in those cities that have a ratio of 2.1 officers per 1,000 residents if they are understaffed. I’m positive the answer will be a unanimous “yes.”
A police department that is understaffed equals a safety concern for the citizens, as well as the patrol officers. I’m sure that when the average citizen calls 911 they expect help right away and are not going to like the answer that the latest budget cut is why “it took so long for the police to get there.”
In addressing the issue of whether the city is writing too many speeding tickets, there is a simple solution for this: Stop going over the speed limit! Better yet, let’s just increase the speed limit so everybody can go 60 to 70 mph down the Parkway – especially those big trucks that so many people complain about. It is funny that the most vocal opposition to the police department are from the people that have had the most run-ins with them.
The School Resource Officer program (SRO) is one of the best and most well-received ideas that the department has ever had. Cutting their positions when the federal grant runs out will be a great mistake. Let’s ask the parents and teachers of the children in the schools if they feel safer that the SROs are in the school. Then ask the parents and teachers in other schools in the district that do not have SROs if they wish they could have them. The SROs also serve as an additional resource to the officers already on duty if a major incident should arise.
This city has become accustomed to the highest level of service from its police department. Any cuts in staffing will be directly felt by the public when they need it most.
(Editor’s note: Kelly Gall is a firefighter with the Snoqualmie Department of Public Safety-Fire Division.)