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Federal Way police chief and mayor propose hiring 13 additional officers

The 13 new officers, if approved, would also accommodate the city's projected growth.

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — Federal Way's mayor and police chief announced a proposal to hire more officers to help deter crime and accommodate an expected rise in the city's population.

Chief Andy Hwang presented his proposal before the city council during its regular public meeting via Zoom Tuesday night.

"We're going to solve this problem and that's my commitment to all of you," Hwang said.

The proposal would entail adding 13 officers, which would increase the current force of 137 to 150. The additions would include six officers for patrol, four officers to form a "pro act" unit, two officers to the special operations unit, and one officer to the traffic unit, according to a mayor's office news release.

Salary and benefits for 13 additional officers would cost the city $1,275,378 per year.

"Public Safety is the number one priority of my administration and as mayor, I must do everything within my power to keep Federal Way safe," Mayor Jim Ferrell stated in the release.

"As our community grows with new developments, regional shifts in population, and increased visitors with the expansion of Light Rail, we must proactively and strategically do our part to ensure we can meet the demands of that growth," Ferrell said.

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Council members discussed the proposal only; it will go next to a council committee on public safety on Oct. 12 for a vote. If it passes there, the propsoal will go for a final vote before the city council on Oct. 19.

In his presentation, Hwang attributed a bulk of gun violence in the city to drug activity and acknowledged a rise in overall crime in Federal Way and King County in recent months, with six murders in Federal Way so far this year plus a rise in auto theft cases.

Hwang said in Federal Way, there were 48 reported auto theft cases in June, 54 in July, 66 in August, and projections in September to hit 80 to 90 auto thefts.

The chief also addressed a shooting at the Eastwind Motel on Pacific High South on Tuesday that sent a person to the hospital in critical condition. In July, at the same motel, an officer shot a man armed with a knife who allegedly charged at him.

RELATED: Officer shoots man armed with knife at Federal Way motel

"It is unacceptable what's occurring there. I've been in communication with the mayor, I've briefed all of you to what's going on; we are going to put a stop to it," Hwang said.

The motel shootings were two among several incidents this past summer.

On Monday, another shooting involving Federal Way Police officers happened during an encounter with an attempted car jacking suspect at Town Square Park.

RELATED: Federal Way police shoot armed suspect after 3 failed carjacking attempts

And on Sept. 9, Federal Way Police investigated a shooting at WinCo supermarket on SW Campus Drive that also sent a man to the hospital.

RELATED: Police: WinCo Foods employee in Federal Way shot by likely intoxicated customer

Hwang told council members during Tuesday's meeting that his proposal will help combat crime as well as accommodate the city's growing population. 

The 13 positions would provide 1.49 officers per 1,000 residents. The proposal also includes adding 12 records specialists and 15 addiitonal police vehicles.

"We are really good as a city, as a police department, to do community-oriented, problem-oriented policing. When we have a problem, sometimes it takes a little while, but we'll solve it," Hwang said.

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