Police officials all around the state say 2022 was a struggle to fill the ranks of departments because of a number of factors including laws in the state that limit the actions of the officers. Recruiting Officer Hayley Myers works to attract new officers and officers who transfer from other areas or lateral officers.

We have the budget for the officers just not the people to fill the ranks

Just like many other cities Yakima is short on the number of officers the city could fund if the officers were available. Currently the department is budgeted for 143 full time officers. Today the number of officers on the streets of Yakima is 108 with 12 openings. Capt. Jay Seely says the department recently hired several new officer with more new hires and lateral officers going through the process. But that still leaves Yakima short. The department has a handful of Officers on various long-term disabilities.


The shortage of officers have made policing a challenge in Yakima

That's made it a challenge for officers because have had to work overtime hours and perform other duties that used to be handled by other officers. The shortage forced the Yakima Police Department to cancel the traffic unit last year and transfer those duties to patrol officers. Since then the department has been slowly building back the traffic unit. The unit has been busy since late summer with major emphasis patrols that continue in 2023.

Yakima Police Department
Yakima Police Department

The department had hoped to fill ranks late last year

Seely says he expected staffing levels to increase by the end of the summer and early fall of last year but the challenges continued into the winter months and they continue today.
Seely is hoping to find more officers working in other departments who want to move to Yakima and work. Those lateral officers could hit the streets and start working rather than having to go through training and the academy.
But attracting those officers isn't an easy task since many other cities offer big sign on bonuses. No cash incentives are being offered by the city of Yakima to attract more officers as the work continues to try and fill the force.

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