Hands off our Black Diamond Police Department - no on Proposition No. 1 | Letter
October 22, 2012 · Updated 9:28 AM
I made a last minute decision Oct. 18t to attend the Black Diamond City Council meeting because of a rampant rumor the council was considering eliminating the police department and contracting to King County for their services.
The backlash of this idea was brutal. Many people came out specifically for this topic and made their opinions very clear. This is not an option!
Councilman May stated this city is in the red about $250,000 for the 2013 budget and they are looking for cost cutting ideas. Let’s be clear about that figure … they are trying to figure out how to pay for a city manager, should it be approved with the passing of Prop 1 in November.
Under Mayor Olness’ term, she has balanced the budget the last two years and it has come with many tough decisions which include freezing or suspending certain positions or projects but has never included eliminating our local police department.This city’s history is rich in tight community relations with its citizens. At the center of that is our local police department. They are a tightly woven part of our community. They are more than just faceless, nameless people driving around in patrol cars. We know their names, about their families, they attend city functions, they are involved in our schools and help shape our kid’s futures. Many of them live in the immediate region and have a vested interest in this city. Both Chief Kiblinger and Officer Chatterson started their police careers here and have never worked anywhere else. Sergeant Lynch was a reserve officer here before being hired elsewhere and then transferred back at his first chance.
All of the officers are here by choice and want to be here and do an excellent job.That is not the case with The King County Sheriff’s Office. I know this because I spent four years pursuing a police job and was subsequently hired by a large city department up north. I walked away from that department two weeks later when I realized it did not fit my personal criteria or family responsibilities.
During that time I did roughly 25 ride alongs with many departments. I rode with the KCSO about eight times and continue to do so as I have made many friends through these rides. The KCSO is a department in crisis and it does not have that main element of being tightly woven into the community like our local police department is. They can’t because of their structure. Their officers do tours and are rotated and cycled through different cities and precincts. Many of them have different career aspirations and move up the KCSO ladder and hop around for resume experience to qualify them for better opportunities.
It is a department for which its very survival relies on local police departments going under and to new start up cities. They take to providing a Costco shopping type service to its customers. It is very impersonal. Internally KCSO is politically divided over leadership and is just too big.
This November election could very well bring in their third leader in two years. A recent budget audit has put them under a microscope and the closest precinct to us was shut down. The end result is no personal connection to them like we have here. Black Diamond would most likely be absorbed, not contracted. This means existing officers in the area would have added territory, not added officers.
The biggest downside to this is the response times are much longer. As a citizen you don’t know when they will arrive. Ask anyone outside the city limits about this. People by Horseshoe Lake and Lake No. 12 as well as Lake Sawyer residents prior to annexation can tell you many stories. As an officer, your back up could be 20 miles away.
I personally saw this on many occasions and remember a situation with possible armed suspects in a burglary situation out near Cumberland. He had the suspects at gunpoint, alone. His back up took 20 minutes to arrive and we were fortunate to receive assistance from a state trooper who was closer. He only took 10 minutes to show up. Even that is way too long.
Do you honestly think a KCSO officer will put his life on the line knowing he has no prompt back up? Don’t count on it.
As someone at the council meeting said, “Our department’s value is measured in more than just dollars.”
Councilman Taylor stated he was shocked at the outcry from just a rumor. He stated that if it were a serious subject there would be a study done and a public hearing. Do you mean like the one done for the change in government structure? Oh wait you guys decided to not have one and ignore your citizen’s input.
Councilwoman Deady stated that everything should be on the table. Why not this? It is very apparent that this is not on the table as far as the citizens who attended the meeting are concerned.
Keep our mayor form of government, keep our police department and your budget shortfall is eliminated. Vote no on Prop 1.