Currently, the City of Deer Park is under the law enforcement umbrella of the Spokane County Sheriff’s department. The current contract represents a cost of about $550,000. The County wants to increase the contract cost to $963,000. In order to change the contract, the County has notified Deer Park they are canceling the current contract. A clause in the contract stipulates that the contract will be in effect for 24 months following the notification of cancellation. Deer Park will have to choose between negotiating a new contract with the County, or creating its own police department to cover the law enforcement needs for the City.
One of the major points that the new mayor, Tim Verzal, raised during his campaign was the need for an increase of law enforcement personnel required to cover the City of Deer Park.
Currently, there are only two deputies assigned to patrol the City along with one school resource officer. In comparison, the Chewelah Police Department is comprised of five full-time police officers, an administrative secretary, and a police chaplain, as well as the recent addition of a K9 unit. For contrast, Deer Park’s current population is about 4,000 people and growing, whereas Chewelah has about 2,600 residents.
Creating a Deer Park police force would involve a substantially higher cost over the current contract (as well as the proposed new contract); however, it would also put the administration of Deer Park’s law enforcement in local control.
Continuing to use the Spokane Sheriff has advantages, too. Even with the increases in a new contract, it costs less than creating a whole new department. There would also be less liability for the City of Deer Park.
New infrastructure is the biggest cost increase that would be incurred to create a new police force. In some ways, this decision is very similar to the decision most adults face when deciding whether to rent a house or buy one.
Looking at the overall issue, 24 months seems like plenty of time to put this organization together or negotiate a new contract. However, both options will take a significant amount of time, effort, and money. Ultimately it comes down to one question; what is best for the growing City of Deer Park?