Hayden residents will vote on doubling police force

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HAYDEN — Four more deputies could be assigned to the city of Hayden if voters approve the measure at the November election.

Hayden City Council members on Tuesday voted 3-1 to have the public decide in November if the city should pay for four additional deputies in Hayden, increasing the number from 3 ½ to 7 ½ much of the year. Coeur d’Alene School District pays part of the cost of a deputy who works as a school resource officer at Hayden Meadows Elementary School between September and June.

A ballot measure for more deputies was rejected by voters last year when it was part of a larger package that asked for almost $980,000 for road upgrades and $653,000 for public safety, which included adding sheriff’s deputies.

So far, the latest measure, which will be drafted between now and September when language must be approved in time to be added to the ballot, doesn’t have a dollar amount. That will be negotiated this summer, but a tentative amount which, if approved, will be a permanent addition to the city budget, was estimated at around $400,000 annually.

The city paid $285,645 last year for law enforcement and $273,893 a year earlier. The projection this year, even without an increase in deputies, is $360,852. That jump is attributed in part to the purchase of a patrol vehicle, according to the city.

City Council member Matt Roetter, the only one to vote against the measure Tuesday, said crime statistics prepared by the sheriff’s office don’t justify doubling Hayden’s police force.

“They show a downward trend in severe crimes and a slight upward trend in less severe crimes,” Roetter said.

According to data provided by the sheriff’s office, aggravated assaults in Hayden increased from nine to 14 cases between 2012 and 2018, DUI cases increased from 74 to 96 and drug cases increased from 153 to 255. Auto burglaries dropped from 78 to 38 over the same period, residential burglaries dropped from 72 to 12, and theft dropped from 340 cases to 226. Vandalism cases dropped from 118 to 53, and weapon offenses went from five cases in 2012 to two last year.

“We’re doing OK,” Roetter said.

After last year’s measure was shot down by voters, the city formed a task force to readdress law enforcement in Hayden. The task force recommended the city increase the number of dedicated patrol officers.

“We took the thoughts, ideas and concerns from the task force and we’re following through with that,” city administrator Brett Boyer said. “The voters get to decide themselves the level of public safety.”

Council members in an August meeting will approve the ballot language, he said, which must be turned in to the county by Sept. 16.

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