Ever Thought About Being an Officer? The Yakima Force Needs You
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. 2023 isn't looking any better since many of the laws are still in place and there's not a lot of talk of democrats supporting republican bills for change.
THE YAKIMA RECRUITMENT OFFICER HAS A LOT OF WORK AHEAD
Yakima Police Recruiting Officer Hayley Myers works to attract new officers and officers who transfer from other areas or lateral officers. Just like many other cities Yakima is short on the number of officers the city could fund if the officers were available.
THE DEPARTMENT IS SHORT MORE THAN 20 OFFICERS
Currently the department is budgeted for 143 full time officers. Today the department is short 23 Officers. As the department works to attract more officers they're also searching for new corrections officers and lateral corrections officers from other departments. The city is also offering a $5,000 incentive payment to take the job.
THE SHORTAGE MEANS OFFICERS ARE WORKING OVERTIME
The lack of officers has made it a challenge for all officers because many 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 2024.
STAFFING LEVELS HAVEN'T IMPROVED YET
Capt. Jay Seely says he expected staffing levels to increase by the end of the summer and early fall of last year but the challenges 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.
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Gallery Credit: Hannah Lang