Sheriff proposes three-year deal with Waitsburg


`WAITSBURG -- Walla Walla County Sheriff Mike Humphreys presented the City Council with a detailed proposal for a three-year interlocal agreement to provide the city with law enforcement services.

The council met in a special session late Tuesday to consider approving the agreement the city had drafted. About 40 people, including two county commissioners and county Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle attended the meeting.

With most of the players in one room, misunderstandings were sorted out, and the council agreed to consider Humphreys' proposal. The council's next regular meeting is Sept. 2.

Council member Kathleen Powers led most of the discussion, and explained that the city had no intention to cancel the contract with the county this year.

Among the city's items in the addendum were requirements that a deputy live in town, and listed specific services. The services included patrols on foot and in the cruiser, monitoring traffic, including speeding, U-turns on Main Street and illegal parking.

Humphreys noted all of these things are done by the deputy on duty, but with a 60-hour-per month coverage, that averages 6 to 7 hours of actual patrol.

Several members of the audience praised the Sheriff's Office for the service that is provided. School superintendent Carol Clarke said "there is a presence of the Sheriff's Office in the schools." Deputies attend school events, and are often in the schools to share concerns with staff.

Although it was not the topic of Tuesday's meeting, the council is also discussing the merits of returning to a town marshal system of law enforcement.

At least two people spoke to the advantage of the Sheriff's services. Nagle, who cited 24 years in the prosecutor's office, said "I can say with unequivocally that the quality of investigations increased dramatically when the sheriff's office took over."

Greg Zuger said the sheriff's office "does an excellent job compared to when we had local law enforcement." Zuger also urged the council to consider a three-year agreement so the sheriff's office can plan its budget.

In an Aug. 5 memorandum from Humphreys to the mayor, the sheriff noted the city gets a break financially. The city pays for only half its dispatch use, and does not pay a share of clerical records, jail costs, office supplies, uniforms and equipment and administrative costs.

The city is also not charged for overages in hours spent on police services in Waitsburg, Humphreys noted in the memorandum.

In 2008, the overage was 516.36 hours, at $42.62 per hour, or $22,007.26. Through June, 2009, the overage is 243 hours at $45.23 per hour, or $10,990.89.

In Humphrey's three-year proposal, costs for additional patrol deputies and related equipment over the agreed-upon 60 hours per month, would be charged at $58.92 per hour.

Projected charges for 2010, according to Humphrey's proposal, would be $149,150. The charges for 2011 would be $153,624, and for 2012, $158,223.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at or 522-5289.


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