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Coupeville Town Council looks at options for police force

Coupeville Town Council is continuing its exploration into what to do with the town’s marshal’s office.

A workshop was held last week and council members revisited options for further review.

There are three ways to look at staffing a police force, said Mayor Nancy Conard. It can be staffed based on how it’s always staffed, on a per capita basis or need basis.

The two options the town is currently looking at include reducing the force from four to three deputies and keeping its own department or contracting with the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

What’s important, Conard said, is with either option, Coupeville’s police presence will still have its own identity. If the option is to contract, Coupeville will have two set officers, wearing Coupeville uniforms.

It’s important for the town to see the same faces, she said.

The town started looking at law enforcement options last September after several officers left the department.

There is no set timeframe on making a decision and the town wants to explore all the options.

“We’re just working our way through it,” Conard said. “We don’t know all the pros and cons.”

Right now Coupeville has a marshal, and one deputy as well as contracted staff from area departments filling in.

The town receives 24-hour coverage with either one officer on patrol or on-call.

If council decides to contract for services, all of the administrative process is lifted from the town and is taken over by the sheriff’s office. If the town opts to keep its own department, it will reduce one officer position and use that funding to increase the salaries of the other three positions.

Conard said she found is that it was hard to retain deputies because Coupeville pays less than other departments.

Council members will be attending a conference through Association of Washington Cities at the end of the month where Conard said they hope to gain more knowledge on the issue through workshops and networking with other municipalities.

The next public discussion about the issue will be presenting and comparing the two options with residents.

Even if a decision is made, Conard said changes probably wouldn’t go into effect until the start of the new year.

 

Community Events, April 2014

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