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Coeur d'Alene Police seek emergency declaration

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | June 17, 2024 1:08 AM

The Coeur d'Alene Police Department is seeking an emergency declaration following a fire that destroyed millions of dollars in police vehicles and gear.

The request will go to the City Council when it meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Library Community Room. It would clear the way for the emergency expenditure of public money to replace the building and equipment destroyed by the fire.

”This emergency declaration is critical to quickly obtaining necessary equipment that enables the police department to respond appropriately and keep the public safe," said Councilwoman Christie Wood. "There will still be budget oversight every step of the way. It’s imperative our police operations receive immediate financial support."

Police lost about 10 vehicles in the blaze June 9, including an incident command trailer, a SWAT BearCat armored unit, nearly 100 laptops, e-bikes and everything associated with its canine program.

The building was the home of code enforcement, animal control and the police department’s information technology division. It also housed the department’s special teams equipment. Protective suits for canine training and new e-bikes for the downtown summer patrol were destroyed.

Police Chief Lee White previously said it could take years for the department to fully recover from the fire.

The Idaho State Fire Marshal’s Office is leading the investigation into the cause of the fire. According to a city report, findings will take about a month, but it said the fire, "appears to be accidental."

The city is insured, and it is hoped insurance proceeds will cover the entire loss, according to a city report.

Idaho Code allows the City Council to authorize emergency expenditures, without following the purchasing statutes, if “(t)here is a great public calamity, such as an extraordinary fire …” which “demand the immediate expenditure of public money” in “the public interest and necessity," the city report said.

"It is not the intention of the Police Department to circumvent Council with regards to the recovery effort or the purchase of replacement items," according to the report. "However, strict compliance with the competitive purchasing process would significantly delay our ability to provide necessary services to the public in a timely manner."