An option to use the police services of Toledo is now on the table as Vader continues to seek out law enforcement alternatives.
Discussed by the Vader City Council during a workshop Friday night, Vader Mayor Ken Smith reported Toledo has offered the use of a full-time officer to work for Vader 40 hours per week if Vader agrees to pay the costs associated with that officer’s salary and work expenses. Smith said the proposal coincides with the graduation of Toledo officer Ron Pumphrey from the full time police academy Wednesday, with Pumphrey, who lives in the Vader area, being pitched as the officer who would work for the city.
“I was startled and most impressed by [Toledo Mayor Jerry Pratt’s] kind gesture in support of this little community,” said Smith, stating the proposal is intended to help Vader obtain police coverage on a temporary basis while plans for a Joint Police Agency between Napavine, Winlock, Toledo and Vader are being fleshed out. “Mayor Pratt is wholeheartedly supportive of our four-city cooperative.”
Vader has been exploring law enforcement options since the resignation of former police chief Sean Uhlich in November, 2011. The city contracted for 911 response and patrol coverage through Winlock during 2012, and has been receiving 911 response coverage from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office since January. Winlock’s contract was allowed to expire as the council anticipated being able to hire a new chief by the beginning of the year, but their prime candidate withdrew his application in January in light of a prolonged hiring process.
Toledo’s offer asks Vader to pay for the costs associated with a full-time patrolman’s salary and benefits (an estimated $3,540 per month), as well as operating costs such as fuel, vehicle maintenance and equipment (an estimated $643 per month). The officer would then work from Vader City Hall using the city’s existing police vehicles and facilities while remaining a Toledo employee, and would spend his time dedicated to Vader except for instances where a response in Toledo, or elsewhere, would require extra personnel.
“If there were any backup calls when he’s off-duty, they [Toledo] would provide backup coverage for the City of Vader at no cost to the City of Vader,” said Smith, who stated an official agreement for coverage through Toledo would require an inter-local contract approved by both cities.
Council members reacted positively to the proposal, stating they particularly like the idea of bringing patrol coverage back to Vader, which is not currently provided by the Sheriff’s Office.
“I’d like to see some random patrols,” said Council Member Rodney Allison. “Summer’s here, the natives are restless, and a lot of crimes can be prevented by the sight of a police officer.”
Allison went on to say, before choosing to hire a Toledo officer full-time, he would like to ask the Sheriff’s Office if they would be available to provide random patrols, noting the low cost Vader is currently paying for their services. Smith had stated Vader is currently paying $806.30 per month to the Sheriff’s Office for an average of 7.33 calls per month at $55 per hour with a two-hour minimum charge. He said Sheriff Steve Mansfield has indicated a willingness to reexamine the current response volume in Vader if the city should ask for greater coverage, and Smith said he would bring up Allison’s concerns with Mansfield.
Calls for service prior to coverage through the Sheriff’s Office averaged 21.6 calls per month under Winlock, according to Smith, at a rate of $6,417 per month. An equivalent response through the Sheriff’s Office would cost around $2,376 per month, not including regular patrols.At the end of the workshop, council members said they were in support of exploring Toledo’s offer while seeking more information about options through the Sheriff’s Office, including the possibility of having a reserve deputy dedicated to patrolling Vader at little or no cost to the city. Vader will have an opportunity to officially act on such offers during their next meeting May 7 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall.