Tenino could cut police department to balance budget

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Drewmikk

KING5.com

Posted on October 22, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 22 at 5:15 PM

TENINO, Wash. -- Tenino's mayor said cutting the city's police department could be the "game changer" to help Tenino out of its financial problems.

The police chief thinks it will make the town less safe.

"I believe crime will go up," said Chief John Hutchings.

Under the proposal, to be introduced by Mayor Eric Strawn Tuesday night, the city would contract out law enforcement support from the Thurston County Sheriff's Office.

The mayor is also submitting proposals to leave the department alone, making cuts from every other city agency.

Strawn said his third idea would reduce the number of police department employees.

But Strawn said disbanding the police department would likely be the "best financial idea" for the city.

Strawn said he needs to find $150,000 in savings for the 2013 budget and he thinks contracting out police services would save that amount, if not more.

He said the police department currently uses 53% of the city's general fund.

Strawn blames mismanagement from the mayor he replaced in January and He said Tenino has not recovered from the recession as quickly as other cities in the state.

The department currently has six employees: the chief, four full-time officers and an office manager.

Chief Hutchings said the county would do a good job enforcing the law and reacting to crimes, but he does not think deputies would have the same presence in the community as his officers who have patrolled school districts and attend the high school football games.

Hutchings plans on speaking against the proposal when the council holds a public hearing on it.

"I'm in this for the community, for my officers and staff. If I don't fight for them that's an act of cowardess," said Hutchings.
 

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