Sheriff’s department to hire 40 deputies to combat understaffing

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department is severely understaffed according to a recently published study. The study found that the sheriff's department needs between 72-82 new employees throughout the department to ensure safety among the community.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department reported falling employment levels between 2007 and 2016 while service calls seem to have been on the rise between 2010 and 2014.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is severely understaffed according to a recently published study.

The study found that the sheriff’s department needs between 72-82 new employees throughout the department to ensure safety among the community.

The department needs at least 40 more deputies and then 30-40 more staff members to fulfill other duties in the sheriff’s department.

In total, it would cost between $9 million and $11 million per year to hire them all.

To get this money, the department plans to go to the executive and County Council to put this money into their annual budget, but nothing more has been discussed or approved yet.

If the department follows these guidelines and get more employees, they will be back at the level they were before the 2008 recession hit, according to the survey.

Cut backs in the department contributed to the low staff at the department. The number of deputies went from 235 in 2007 to 189 in 2016, according to the press release by the department.

The current 189 deputies are in charge of 1,800 square miles and serving a population of 400,000.

That’s one officer per about 2116 people. That’s also means one officer has to cover more than 9 square miles each to cover the entirety of the Pierce County’s unincorporated area.

Sheriff Paul Pastor of Pierce County said in a news conference that there have been instances where police in Pierce County will be called to a minor emergency, but aren’t able to respond to it.

“If you have a burglary over here, and you have a child rape over here and you have one detective to send, where would you send the detective?” Pastor said in the news conference.

Heather Songer, the communications assistant for the Pierce County’s department, said that this is one of the biggest complaints from the community. She said according to the survey, if they get the numbers in employment up, this won’t be as big of a problem for the department and they should in theory, have enough officers to be able to respond to all calls.

“I think it again goes back to the fact that there are a high volume of calls that come and only a certain amount of deputies that can respond,” Songer said.

According to a chart on the Pierce County’s Sheriff’s website, there have been a general increase in phone calls and a general decrease in staff members in the past decade.

According to Songer, hiring these new employees will be five-step plan that will take full effect in 2017.

Pastor said part of the plan is already in progress. The Pierce County Council approved of the money to hire a new detective and five more deputies.

This study alone cost the department $45,000, which was performed by an agency in Massachusetts.

“My goal in contracting with an outside agency was to obtain an unbiased review of the structure and staffing of the law enforcement side of the department,” said Pastor from a press release by the Pierce County Sheriffs Department.

Year One

This is the year that the department starts to put all of the plans the study showed to be effective into play.

One of the first things the department wants to do is to hire an additional command staff or a bureau chief, which is a person within the department that is the leader of news and information. They help inform the rest of the staff about what is going on in the community.

Another step within this year is to provide more lieutenants, which are members of the department that are in charge of various law enforcement and administrative functions.

The next step, according to the Pierce County Department’s website, is to improve the community engagement with the officers.

One of the last steps in this year is to hire more deputies, which will add on to the 40 that they need to fulfill the study’s suggestions.

Year Two

In this year, the department plans to continue to hire more deputies to add onto the 40 they need by the end of the five-year plan.

Next, the department wants to evaluate crime trends and community engagement with all of its officers to make sure all citizens are kept safe.

Then, one of the last things they want to get done for this year is to begin hiring co-responders.

Years Three-Five

These are the last few years for the plan to be totally completed, which if done correctly will improve Pierce County’s Sheriff’s Department significantly, according to the survey.

At this point, the department wants to have hired the 40 deputies they were advised to get.

Then they would also like to add sergeant positions and to continue co-responder hirings as well.

The department wants to continue to evaluate crime trends and community engagements in the area all throughout the end of the five-year plan.

Lastly, they would like to be able to evaluate changes in the community and response needs in the community.

More in News

New utility included in Enumclaw budget; final vote set for Nov. 27

Significant progress has been made on crafting a 2018 Enumclaw budget, a document that could forever change the way the city collects and disperses certain funds. The plan now under way would see creation of a stormwater utility probably by August of the coming year.

Proposed recycling center sparks environmental fears

A proposed material processing facility outside of Enumclaw has some local conservationists worried about how it may affect the Green River and other natural environments. “The location of this, next to this natural area, just is not right. It doesn’t make sense to us at all, for a variety of reasons,” said Bernie McKinney, president of the Green River Coalition, a non-profit preservationist group.

Mobile Impaired Driving Unit hitting the streets this holiday weekend

The MIDU is a self-contained 36 foot motorhome that has been retrofitted as a mobile DUI processing center and incident command post.

Two Enumclaw volunteers honored for work at library

Two members of the Enumclaw Friends of the Library were honored during the recent Friends’ Day, an annual celebration of King County Library System volunteers.

Abigail Hill, 19, is crowned Miss Washington by the 2017 title winner, Alex Carlson-Helo. Photo courtesy Jerry and Lois Photography
Local Miss Washington prepares for national stage

That’s right — Enumclaw is competing in Miss U.S.A. Abigail Hill, the city’s newest star, was recently crowned Miss Washington , clearing the way for her to compete nationally in the spring.

Beyond the Borders now travels from Sumner to Bonney Lake

Come December, it’ll be easier for youth, seniors, people with disabilities or low-income to travel between Sumner and Bonney Lake.

Early start to Crystal ski season

The outdoor season has officially greeted those heading uphill, with snow deep enough to enjoy.

Suspect faces possible ‘third strike’ after alleged car chase, kidnapping

A suspect with a long criminal history finds himself in “third strike” jeopardy, the result of an alleged robbery in Enumclaw and ensuing car chase out of town.

Why now is a good time for a flu shot | Public Health Insider

With the holidays drawing near, many of us look forward to travel or seeing family and friends. And just as our schedules get busier, it’s also the time of year when the flu starts to circulate. We turned to Libby Page, manager of our immunizations program, to get the scoop on flu vaccine.

Election 2017: Change in Enumclaw; Buckley mayor race close

The 2017 general election is over, and although the results are still two weeks from being certified, many candidates are in the clear to take up their elected positions come winter.

Get your fill of winter activities on Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier’s landscape undergoes a dramatic transformation in winter.