Poulsbo Police and Legal Departments request budget funds to aid in increasing efficiency

Children may be writing lists for Santa this time of year, but the various departments within the City of Poulsbo are writing lists as well for the mid-biennium Budget Review.

Some of the most interesting and seemingly timely requests have come from the Poulsbo Police and the Poulsbo Legal departments.

On the Poulsbo Police Department list are the following:

• New full-time police clerk

• Reconsideration of overtime increase

• Mobile responder app

• Jail costs

• New records management system

• National Night Out

Some of the items on PPD’s list are the result of requirements by the county, while others come directly from the department itself.

For example, due to Poulsbo not having its own jail, those arrested in Poulsbo are sent to either the Kitsap County Jail in Port Orchard or up to the city jail in Forks through an interlocal agreement between the cities. Costs for housing criminals in these facilities have gone up every year for the last 10 years. In 2019 it cost $97.80 per day to house someone in jail, in 2020 the cost will go up to $115.85.

“The jails costs are something we have no control over, other than … deciding whether or not we are going to put people in jail or not,” Poulsbo Police Chief Dan Schoonmaker told the City Council on Nov. 13.

One of the two priority requests for the PPD is a reconsideration of its 2019 budget request regarding overtime pay.

In documents attached to the Nov. 20 City Council agenda, the request for these remaining overtime funds states the following:

“The departmental overtime costs (plus associated benefits) have steadily increased year over year despite ongoing efforts to minimize its impact and effect. Overtime occurs for many reasons and our department has worked diligently with the city’s Finance Department to establish costing codes to allow for improved analysis and review; while at the same time the department’s command staff has worked diligently to minimize impact whenever available. An increase to the departmental overtime budget (plus associated benefits) will allow the police department to continue to provide the necessary shift coverage to maintain our current level of service for public safety. This request is for an additional on-going of $35,000 plus $5,950 in associated benefits.”

In 2019 PPD requested a budget of $76,050 for overtime, it received $35,000, this time around they are hoping to make up the difference.

During the Nov. 13 presentation, Chief Schoonmaker outlined two reasons as to why these funds were needed.

“Almost every hour of training that our officers go to, for a department this size equals an hour of overtime. There’s not a whole lot of training here in the county, so getting our officers out to training outside the county, King County, Pierce County, require back fill on our department to keep our minimums out on the street,” Schoonmaker said.

New unfunded mandates are the second reason why these funds are needed, which include the requirement for 40 hours of de-escalation training passed by the legislature via I-940.

According to Schoonmaker, Washington state is reportedly allowing until 2028 for all law enforcement departments to fulfill that training requirement.

“I would submit that we need to get that training done much faster and that there is a county-wide commitment to getting that done well ahead of that deadline,” Schoonmaker said.

The top priority for the PPD is to hire an additional full-time employee to help solve some of the backlog issues in the property and evidence room.

In 2007 the PPD went from four full-time administrative employees to three after acquiring a Deputy Chief. The employees manage all of the public records, records requests, evidence & property transfers, fingerprinting, concealed carry permit licensing, etc.

Over the years the workload for these employees has increased significantly as of April 2019 the Administrative Services Manager now not only operates and manages the evidence and property room but also oversees three full-time employees who double as partners in the navigator program.

The cost of hiring another full-time administrative employee, including benefits, will total $85,000.

Chief Schoonmaker outlined some data to show that the need for a fourth administrative employee is critical. According to the data, the department has seen a 32 percent increase in public records requests, a 24 percent increase in the volume of property and evidence, a five percent increase on warrant processing, a 45 percent increase in firearm registration since July, and a 20 percent increase in report processing. Also, with the implementation of the Navigators program, the tasks for the Administrative Services Division have increased tenfold.

Documents for the Nov. 20 council meeting note that the PPD is also requesting a budget amendment for $15,000 from the 2019 budget to get some temporary relief to the backlog.

“The work continues to increase, and it is a busy, busy front office,” Schoonmaker said.

Alexis Foster, prosecutor for the City of Poulsbo also made a request for the 2020 budget.

Foster is requesting that the 2020 budget allow for the hiring of an Assistant City Prosecutor. There would be a one time cost of $2,300 with an ongoing cost of $25,700, however, Foster revised the request to have an ongoing cost of $69,500, a $43,800 increase.

According to Nov. 20 documents, the justification for this request is as follows,

“The service levels needed to meet the duties and obligations of the City Prosecutor and Risk Management Departments have increased significantly. These duties and obligations include those legally and ethically imposed upon the City Prosecutor, and those which are necessary to manage and reduce risk to the city under the Risk Management Department.”

During the Nov. 13 meeting, Foster explained to the council the need for assistance as well. Mainly that there has been an increase in referrals and charges to be filed, but Foster cannot file them all on her own.

Foster cited time constraints as the main cause for a “year of misdemeanor charges” piling up and another “two years [of] gross misdemeanor charges.” In order to manage the workload, Foster said she would need to sit down and go through more than 400 referrals before next year.

Foster noted that the problem with this kind of delay is that as time goes on, people, such as witnesses, no longer remember things well, victims and criminals can disappear, and criminals have committed other offenses.

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