Is Snoqualmie having a spike in car prowls? Is there less police presence in local neighborhoods? These are questions that have come up in many online discussions lately.
One reoccurring comment is that it seems like the amount of neighborhood police patrols has declined in recent years. Some residents point to the reason for that decrease stemming from the Snoqualmie Police Department taking over the police service contract of nearby North Bend.
Snoqualmie Police Captain Nick Almquist says the questions aren’t just being posed on neighborhood Facebook pages. The department is also fielding the same questions.
Here are some answers from SPD:
As far as car prowls go, Captain Almquist said the department has not seen a spike in Snoqualmie car prowls that leaves it concerned. He explained, “Breaking into cars is a seasonal trend and also depends on what criminal minds are out there doing these sorts of crimes at the time.”
Almquist said the perception of residents that there are less neighborhood patrols “is a true statement,” but wanted to make clear that it is not due to North Bend – officers are not being pulled away from Snoqualmie to serve in North Bend. He said North Bend has its own staffing model (i.e. officers) and Snoqualmie policing is not affected by the department’s North Bend police contract.
Why less patrols then?
He explained, though, that patrol levels are affected by other duties officers have to perform and that currently officers are investigating their own cases – from intake all the way through to submitting charges to the prosecutor. As some cases are in-depth, they can take an officer off the street for numerous hours – and can be a reason why residents are noticing less patrols.
Captain Almquist said this is why the city is running a levy lid lift to raise property taxes – to “increase the department’s ability to actively investigate crimes using dedicated personnel.” If the levy passes next week, SPD plans to add two detective positions, which he says would allow other officers more time for neighborhood patrols.
Working to Fill Personnel Holes
The department is also currently down “several personnel” – so officers are working mandatory 12-hour shifts staffed at “minimal” levels. SPD is “actively working” on recruiting so that it can get back up to full staffing, but Almquist explained, “It takes time, though, and the candidate pool is up and down with qualified applicants.”
Snoqualmie currently has 14 officers. City officials report this is the same number it had in 2001. Over the last 15 years the city’s population has grown from 2,500 to just over 13,000. During that time period calls for police service have increased 61% – from 3,700 calls to approximately 6,000.
Almquist ended by saying that in his 27 years in law enforcement, he’s never worked with a more dedicated group of professionals, adding, “We want to continue our ‘No Call Too Small’ motto as it’s truly what keeps Snoqualmie a vibrant community and one of the safest cities in our region. We are doing our best to be proactive with the limited amount of resources we have right now.”
Possible Tax Increase Amount
If the levy lid passes on November 8th, property taxes in Snoqualmie would increase $0.23 per $1,000 to a maximum rate of $2.78/$1,000 of assessed valuation. In addition to the two detective positions, the increase would also fund an additional fire fighter positions.
- For the owner of a $500,000 (the average assessed value of a home in Snoqualmie), the tax increase would be approximately $115 per year, or $9.58 per month.
- For a home valued at $375,000 the cost would be approximately $86 per year, or $7.19 per month