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. 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.

Yakima is budgeted for a full force but people aren't applying for jobs

Currently the department is budgeted for 143 full time officers. Today the number of officers on the streets of Yakima is 108 with 11 openings.

Now lawmakers have come up with a proposal they hope will pass

Now lawmakers in Olympia may be able to help through a bipartisan bill sponsored by 6th District Sen. Jeff Holy. It aims to reestablish public safety across Washington by halting an exodus of law-enforcement officers has been passed by the Senate Law and Justice Committee. SB 5361 would direct 0.1% of the current state sales tax to local governments to let them hire more law-enforcement. The estimated $250 million annually would be used by local governments to hire law-enforcement officers up to at least the national average per capita (2.4 per 1,000). Once that threshold is reached, local governments could use the funds in ways they consider best to reduce crime.
The bill now goes to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

What's the problem in Yakima?

For years Police Capt. Jay Seely has been 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. But the move in Olympia this session could change that situation.


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