Sunday, November 27, 2022

MY TURN: Hayden Law Enforcement Base Budget Increase

| October 29, 2022 1:00 AM

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office can only provide law enforcement services commensurate with their available resources. The current contract between the city of Hayden and the KCSO provides four deputies, with an additional three in 2023 (although they are not permanently budgeted).

The proposed Public Safety Levy will provide an additional six deputies. It is important to note that it takes five personnel to provide one deputy 24/7.

Kootenai County is 1,310 square miles. When there are insufficient deputies in Hayden to respond to calls, additional deputies must respond from other areas of the county — including from as far away as Bayview or Harrison. The result is significantly increased response times and potential danger to the citizens of Hayden as well as deputies responding to calls without a backup.

The levy proposal was the result of the Citizen Task Force created by the City Council to assess law enforcement needs in Hayden. We strongly support their conclusions and this levy for the following reasons:

1) According to a 2021 Sheriff’s Office study, Hayden currently provides comparatively little funding for law enforcement services compared to other area cities:

  • Coeur d’Alene: $305 per citizen
  • Post Falls: $174
  • Spirit Lake: $251
  • Rathdrum: $213
  • Hayden: $20

2) The same study shows that Hayden has far fewer law enforcement officers per population than other area cities, in spite of significant calls for service and crime:

  • Coeur d’Alene: 2.00 officers per 1,000 population
  • Post Falls: 2.00
  • Rathdrum: 2.00
  • Hayden: 0.22

NOTE: It is germane to note that in 2010, the City of Hayden contracted with the International City Managers Association to review law enforcement services in Hayden. The report recommended 20 peace officers and four professional support staff. Obviously, the population of Hayden has increased significantly since then, as unfortunately has crime. More growth is in progress and will increase the population and law enforcement calls for service and associated crime.

3) The proposal is entirely for funding the additional deputies. It would only increase taxes on a home assessed at $500,000, $6.76 per month.

4) The additional deputies will provide:

  • Reduction in response time to calls for service
  • Increased safety for the citizens of Hayden
  • Increased proactive patrolling
  • Increased safety for deputies in responding to calls

Providing timely and professional law enforcement services has been an ongoing issue for the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office. We highly encourage the citizens of Hayden to vote for the proposed Law Enforcement Base Budget Increase to enhance law enforcement services in Hayden.

Sheriff Rocky Watson, Retired

Undersheriff Dan Mattos, Retired

Sheriff Pierce Clegg, Retired

Undersheriff Tad Leach, Retired

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