If the city of Yakima needs anything in 2022 it's more police officers says Yakima Police Capt. Jay Seely. For a variety of reasons, including new police reform laws, passed by state lawmakers, the Yakima Police Department is short 19 officers. He and other officers from around the state are hoping lawmakers can do something to help recruit more officers.

Senate Bill 5841 is now being debated in the legislature

Washington State Sen. Jeff Holy, a Republican from Cheney is the sponsor of Senate Bill 5841 which received strong support when it came before the Senate Ways and Means Committee this week. The bill would give cities and counties with more money to hire more officers.

Yakima Police are waiting on 19 officers to be qualified to be on the street

Seely says the department now has 19 officers who are employed but unable to police the streets due to the fact that they are awaiting academy training.
Senate Bill 5841 would direct 0.1% of the current state sales tax to local governments allowing them to hire more police officers. A press release says the "bill is expected to produce about $250 million a year to help cities and counties hire more officers. The revenues would be used by local governments to hire law-enforcement officers up to at least the national average per capita (2.4 per 1,000). Once that threshold is reached, local governments could use the funds in ways they consider best to reduce crime."
SB 5841 also would increase the number of training classes at the state’s basic law enforcement academy to a minimum of 25 per year.

The Senator says he sees a lot of support for the bill across the board

“The positive testimony clearly shows this would be an effective way to reduce crime and improve public safety in our communities,” says Holy, R-Cheney. “Smaller cities and counties often can’t afford to pay their portion for future officers to attend a police academy, and they sometimes can’t afford to replace officers who are leaving the force or retiring. This bill would promote having an adequate number of officers on the streets to keep our communities safer.”

Yakima Police say they're paying a lot of overtime to officers on the streets

Seely is hoping lawmakers approve the bill. He says Yakima Police continues to maintain city coverage, but they are relying heavily on overtime. Currently the department has 112 full-time officers who can be deployed on the streets of Yakima, but they're budgeted for 143 officers.

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