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Snohomish police, jail contracts to be discussed April 6

SNOHOMISH — City Hall is turning its attention to renewing a five-year contract with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office for police services.
A town hall last week on the police department described how it serves with a community focus and Police Chief Rob Palmer’s goals for 2021.
Among them, the department is conducting more night patrols and traffic safety will get renewed focus this year.
When pandemic restrictions ease, Palmer would like to hold public open house events. In the meantime, Palmer doesn’t want anyone to be shy from calling about problems. “Dialogue needs to be as open as possible so we hear about things,” the chief said.
The sheriff’s office contract will be discussed further Tuesday, April 6, starting with a special meeting at 5 p.m. featuring Undersheriff Jeff Brand. People can give comments at the full council meeting that starts at 6 p.m. The police service contract and the city’s jail services contract are on the agenda.
The city’s current contract is for $3.45 million this year for 18 deputies plus two non-commissioned employees.
Council members have queries on costs, including an added requirement that the city pay for deputies’ worker’s compensation and risk management costs.
The cost averages to about $13,085 per deputy in the department, a spreadsheet shared by the sheriff’s office shows. The exact amount is not finalized by the county finance department. If Snohomish Police stays with 18 deputies, this could roughly equal $235,530 in additional costs per year.
Palmer said the size of the department fits just right for Snohomish’s size. The number of officers to people meets best practice averages.
Snohomish has about 15,000 people present in town during the day because of the city’s draw, and the nightlife has a separate life of its own.
By being run by the Sheriff’s Office, the police department can call in county resources such as K-9s, search and rescue, SWAT teams and major crime investigators.
Deputy Rich Niebusch, the department’s community outreach officer, also presented at the town hall. His work chatting with people experiencing homelessness under the Avenue D bridge and around town isn’t reflected in the official contact logs.
The city is not large enough to have its own dedicated social worker, Palmer said.
Niebusch agreed. When homeless people say yes to help, a social worker from the Sheriff’s Office “is just a phone call away” if he needs them.
At the town hall, Niebusch also presented on the value of the community policing model and how this pays dividends for the public’s perception of police officers.
“If we look at policing as crime-fighting versus maintaining public order, we’re missing the boat,” he said.


Previous coverage:

Jail fees are rising, but cities catch a small break

EVERETT — The county jail's fees billed to cities for housing an inmate contained a notable price jump for 2021, which hit city budgets this year, and took some cities by surprise. The County Council intervened to spread out the cost.

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Original contents copyrighted by Mach Publishing (Snohomish County Tribune), all rights reserved

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