SPOKANE, Wash – It's the news the law enforcement community has been waiting to hear: Spokane Police will be able to have 25 more police officers on the street in the 2014 proposed city budget. The addition would bring the total number of officers to 300 and the total number of department employees (including citizen administrators) to 384.
While it's a huge improvement over the 366 full-time employees the department has this year, the numbers are actually in line with the staffing levels of 2011.
This is the number of FTE's within Spokane Police over the last several years:
2010 = 395
2011 = 385
2012 = 387
2013 = 366
2014 = 384
So will Spokane have enough officers, even with the addition of these 25? "I believe we will," Chief Frank Straub told KHQ's Kelsey Watts. "Really what policing is about here in Spokane and across the country is using data, and really focusing our resources on problem people, problem places and problem activities."
Essentially, using the officers we have more efficiently. Spokane Police is already doing that by using technology to identify hot spots for crime, then putting resources in those areas. Chief Straub says violent crime is down 3% in Spokane over last year, but he admits, property crime is still a tough battle.
The 25 new officers will cost $2.5 million dollars in salary and benefits, equating to $100,000 per officer.
Mayor David Condon believes he found the money in the budget to pay for them through a number of source: paying off a 2003 street bond with reserve funds to save $1.4 million in interest a year, revenue from downtown parking meters, plus $800,000 in savings from administrative efficiencies within the police department.
However, even if the Spokane City Council approves the budget tomorrow – it still takes a year or two to put an officer through training, so we may not see them actually on the ground in Spokane until early 2015. "As we make this commitment, it's not one that is going to be fixed overnight," Spokane Mayor David Condon said. "But as you make the long-term commitment we should be able to maintain that number of about 300 officers."