Crime is on the rise in the state while the number of people you call for help is falling. The annual report released Wednesday by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs shows a 12.3% increase in violent crime in Washington state last year.
Hundreds of murders were recorded as the state lost officers
The report says there were 325 murders statewide last year, the most since the association began tracking such reports in 1980. As robberies, murders and serious assaults rise growing, state troopers are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. Last year, statewide, Washington had 495 fewer officers on the job. It’s a problem in every department, including the Yakima Police Department. The department is short of 11 officers. Due to this shortage, the ministry had to cancel the traffic unit last year. Now the hope is to have enough officers hired to restart the unit at the end of the year or next year.
Yakima Police Are Doing What They Can To Recruit New Officers, But It’s Not Easy
Capt. Jay Seely says patrol officers continue to work overtime to supplement the traffic division. Not only are there not enough officers to create a new traffic unit, there is also a shortage of patrol officers. Recruitment is ongoing, but Seely says they just aren’t seeing many new applicants.
In addition to the 11 vacancies, the department has more officers who are employed but unable to police the streets due to awaiting academic training and others suffering from various long-term disabilities.
Seely doesn’t think lack of 11 officers puts Yakima at risk
Seely says that despite the lack of officers, he isn’t concerned about the lack of security. He says they continue to maintain city coverage using overtime. This means that the same agents work more time on the streets of Yakima. Something he hopes will change dramatically this summer.
He says security guards at events like Downtown Summer Nights are working overtime due to a lack of available officers on the force.