It's no secret the Yakima Police Department is short on officers. The department is facing the same challenges departments around the country are seeing says police Capt. Jay Seely.

The department continues to search for new hires to fill the ranks

Currently the department has 113 full-time officers who can be deployed on the streets of Yakima, but the department is budgeted for 143 officers. For a variety of reasons, including new police reform laws, passed by state lawmakers, the Yakima Police Department lost 18 officers last year that left the force-including several retirements. Seely says the department recently hired one new officer with "several more" new hires and lateral officers going through the process.  The department has an additional 19 officers who are employed but unable to police the streets due to the fact that they are awaiting academy training and others are on various long-term disabilities.

The city is hoping to bring back the traffic unit by June or July

Seely says they're hoping to have enough officers hired to start up the city traffic unit in June or July but there's no guarantee that will happen. The officer shortage forced the department to cut its traffic unit last year and transferred the traffic enforcement function to patrol. Seely says by late 2022, staffing levels are expected to increase“YPD is committed to public safety and the chief and I are proud of the success our officers achieved in 2021 and we expect more of the same in 2022.”

While Yakima is looking for new recruits there's lots of interest in Spokane

The Spokane Police Department is also facing a big shortage. But unlike the Yakima Police Department Spokane officials say they've seen a huge interest in the department seeing 762 applications from those who took the public safety test in 2021.
Seely is hoping things will change in the near future and the department will be able to hire more officers to patrol city streets.

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