Bad News For The Bad Guys
February 15, 2011 1 Comment
COUNCIL VOTES 4-2 TO STRENGTHEN POLICE DEPARTMENT
Last night, another large crowd turned out to support the recommendations of the Public Safety Committee. The City Council adjusted its agenda to make discussion of adding a Crime Analyst position the first item of the meeting. However, before debate on that topic began, the Council received public comment from citizens gathered during the dinner hour of Valentine’s Day. All of those that rose to speak at the microphone supported both a Crime Analyst and also additional police officers for the City of Sunnyside. All members of the Council were present, with the exception of Theresa Hancock, who had asked for an excused absence at a previous meeting.
The City Council unanimously approved the recommendation of the police department to hire a full time Crime Analyst. The cities of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Yakima, and Spokane have a full time Crime Analyst to name a few. Last week Kim Hathaway of the Kennewick Police Department came and shared how she uses computer software to analyze and predict crime patterns. The council was sold on the idea.
Following this, a motion was made to proceed with hiring two additional police officers. The intent of hiring these new officers is for the police department to have a dedicated apprehension team to arrest bad guys. They would not be distracted with responding to traffic collisions, for example, while following up leads on wanted individuals. At various times this concept has been referred to as a “Gang Task Force” or “Gang Suppression Unit”.
Pablo Garcia objected to the motion, saying that the Council should wait to take action for the City Manager and Finance Director to come back with ever more information. Last week, the Finance Director stated that the money was in the current budget to hire the officers. Council Member Don Vlieger pointed out that the current time is a good one to seek lateral hires from other departments (some of which are downsizing) and that the city needs to proceed on this now.
The Finance Director put it in writing for the council this week that the funds are there to make the hires. Still, Garcia persisted in the need to kick the can down the road and wait for more information. Council Member Mike Farmer said he saw no reason to wait. Council Member Tom Gehlen said he saw no need to discuss this issue at this time, and that the Council could wait until later to take action.
The council took a vote, with Mayor Jim Restucci, Deputy Mayor Paulakis, Council Member Don Vlieger, and Council Member Mike Farmer voting to hire the officers. Pablo Garcia and Tom Gehlen voted against the motion. Following the vote, the audience members broke out in applause.
- Public Safety Driving City Council Agenda (blogsunnyside.com)
- Gang injunction cutting drug crime, Oakland says (sfgate.com)