Figuring Out Why Yakima PD Gets Paid and KCSO Doesn’tJuly 29th, 2009 by Steven Gardner
Wednesday’s story on the local impact of awards granted to Bremerton and Port Orchard, but not to Kitsap County did not include mention that Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island also applied and were turned down.
Thirty Washington agencies got money, with rankings based on crime, finances and community policing efforts. Poulsbo ranked 62nd in the state. Bainbridge Island came in 108th.
The Poulsbo and Bainbridge omissions lacked any mystery. According to the FAQ page provided by the Department of Justice, 7,300 agencies applied for funds, totaling $8.3 billion. Only $1 billion was available for 2009. Those who were turned down are technically considered “pending.”
Before I heard from someone at the Department of Justice, trying to find out why Kitsap’s application was denied despite landing one place ahead of one agency that did get money, I found the following information provided in one of the department’s FAQs on the COPS funding program.
I’m just a small department looking for one officer. Why did so many “big departments” get funded?
COPS is legally required to award 50 percent of CHRP funds to jurisdictions serving populations of more than 150,000 and 50 percent of CHRP funds to jurisdictions serving populations of less than 150,000. As a result, larger agencies were ranked against each other for half of the available funds ($500,000,000), while smaller agencies were similarly ranked against each other for the remaining half of the funds. Approximately 95 percent of the nearly 7,300 applications received were from agencies serving jurisdictions with populations of 150,000 or fewer, thus making the CHRP grants even more competitive for smaller agencies. The COPS Office was able to fund 24 percent of the larger agencies that applied, while only 14 percent of the smaller agencies received funding because of the extremely high demand from smaller jurisdictions.
By reading this I came to believe that Kitsap County Sheriffs (serving approximately 170,000 Kitsap residents) wasn’t competing with Yakima (population 80,000) at all. That was confirmed when Gilbert Moore, a Department of Justice spokesman for the COPS program, returned my call.
He said there were three rules, not necessarily in order of priority. The first was the one mentioned in the FAQ.
The second rule, was that each state was to receive half of 1 percent of the total pot, about $5 million. So every jurisdiction in Wyoming that applied received money, where several in states like Washington and California did not.
The third rule is the awards were based on the scores combining financial need, crime and community policing efforts. Compared to Yakima, Kitsap scored higher. But as I mentioned earlier, Kitsap wasn’t competing against Yakima, because the money they were seeking came from different halves of the same pot.
That any agency was denied, said Moore, “reflects that there was tremendous demand for federal support for hiring officers.” For every dollar that was approved, seven were turned down.
Kitsap County was competing with big cities and counties, such as Tacoma and Vancouver, two larger agencies in Washington that were funded. Yakima was competing with Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo.
When it comes to the issue of “pending,” that means agencies that received the awards could decide on their own to turn them down. Should that happen, the agencies that were denied funding move up higher on the list.
For a large agency to get funded, however, it had to get a percentile score of 94.2 percent or higher, Moore said. In Tennessee, Memphis scored a 94.2 and was funded. Chattanooga scored a 94.1 and was not. Kitsap County finished with a score of 88.9.
If Congress makes more money available in 2010, Kitsap’s chances could improve, but who is betting Congress will have the appetite to do another round?
Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer issued a written statement
Tuesday. I’ve placed a call to him see if he has a follow-up
response, now that the criteria is being made more clear. I’ll let
you know once he calls back. In the meantime, the statement he
issued follows the jump.
Sheriff responds to law enforcement funding grants announcement
Port Orchard, Wash. — The announcement came as a shock and a disappointment, or rather “As an unpleasant surprise,” as Sheriff Steve Boyer put it, after a public release was made this morning naming those law enforcement agencies that are to be recipients of grants funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office was not on the list of law enforcement agencies within the state slated to receive funding, despite its relatively high ranking in the final standings. For that matter, no Washington State sheriff’s agency appeared on the list of grant recipients.
The joint announcement, made by The White House and the Department of Justice, advised that $1 billion in grant monies are to be made available to fund hiring / re-hiring of more than 4,500 law enforcement officers. The news release indicated that 1,046 law enforcement agencies were selected, representative of all 50 states, the District of
Columbia, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.
The list names city police departments and tribal law enforcement agencies locally, including Bremerton, Gig Harbor, Port Orchard and Shelton Police Departments.
“I have to seriously question the selection criteria,” stated Sheriff Boyer. “This was vetted as a competitive process based on community and agency needs, coupled with performance.”
“The decision makers in this endeavor, in my opinion, appear to be clueless,” Sheriff Boyer added. “Not a single Washington State sheriff received so much as a dime out of this process when county governments are recognized as being in worse financial shape.”
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office is the second lowest staffed sheriff’s agency in the state at .71 of one officer per 1,000 residents in the county. The accepted standard in law enforcement is two officers per 1,000 residents, although most county sheriff’s agencies have always operated under this ratio, due to county government funding
“This is a people business. The county has hard working deputies and detectives out in the field providing service to its residents,” said the sheriff. “Evolving technology is very useful and helps us daily, but it doesn’t solve crime. Investigators do that. It doesn’t enforce the law or maintain the peace, or respond in times of emergency. Patrol
deputies do that.”
“We are acutely aware of the current financial crisis and have worked diligently over the past two years cutting and trimming our budget, to meet fiscal restraints, to the point that we are shortly going to be in the running as the lowest staffed sheriff’s agency… anywhere,” continued Sheriff Boyer. “County residents need to know that the level of service that they expect, in which we have taken pride in providing, will be severely curtailed.”
“I will be calling on all Washington State sheriffs to meet, face-to-face, to research and seek out alternative funding for county sheriff’s agencies, and to address this issue with our state’s elected representatives to the U. S. Congress,” the sheriff said.
“Additionally, I will call on the board of county commissioners, in hopes that we can work together to fulfill the core responsibility of government: To protect and promote the safety, health and welfare of our citizens in an efficient, accessible and effective manner.”