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Vader approves Sheriff’s offer for increased law enforcement

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The Vader City Council has approved additional patrols through the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office after a tie vote broken by Mayor Ken Smith during their June 4 meeting.

At a rate of $55 per hour, the Sheriff’s Office will be expected to patrol the city during five four-hour shifts each week, scheduled jointly between Vader and the Sheriff’s Office.

These extra patrols are expected to cost the city $4,763 monthly and should not exceed the current 2013 budget for law enforcement, which is estimated at $59,000 for the remainder of the year.

Smith said he has personally been satisfied with Vader’s relationship with the Sheriff’s Office, who have provided emergency response coverage to the city since January, stating the level of service they offer for the price Vader is paying has been exceptional.

Vader began using the emergency response services of the Sheriff’s Office after a contract for full police coverage with Winlock expired Dec. 31. Winlock PD had been contracted for 2012 after Vader lost police coverage under former chief Sean Uhlich, who resigned in November of 2011.

In addition to the Sheriff’s Office, the council considered an offer that night from Toledo for the full-time use of Officer Ron Pumphrey, who lives in the Vader area and recently re-graduated from the state police academy after spending time overseas. The offer was for Pumphrey to patrol Vader 40 hours per week at a rate of roughly $6,327 per month to cover his employment and patrol expenses, while Pumphrey would remain a Toledo employee and be subject to their oversight.

While this offer received support from multiple community members as well as Council Members Janet Charlton and Linda Newton, in addition to an acknowledgement from Smith that either Toledo or the Sheriff’s Office would serve Vader adequately, Smith voted in approval of the Sheriff’s Office along with Council Members Kevin Flynn and Andy Wilson, both of whom had cited the need to stay well within the city’s budget.

Absent from the meeting that night had been Council Member Rodney Allison, who Smith reported was expected to be out of town that night.

After the tie vote was cast, Charlton left the meeting in protest and did not return, having stated during discussion the council would be “making a big mistake” to not accept Toledo’s offer.

Both Smith and Sheriff Steve Mansfield emphasized the agreement for added coverage was meant to be a temporary measure as Vader continues to explore permanent law enforcement options, primarily a Joint Police Agency with Winlock, Toledo and Napavine.

“This is not a long-term commitment,” said Mansfield, stating neither a police cooperative, nor a new Vader Police Chief, nor his office should be depended upon entirely to tackle crime in the area. “You [citizens] are the key to making everything happen here…That information that you have—that you collect, that you pass on—that’s critical to community-orientated policing. Don’t expect us to carry the load for the problems that we all have created, because we do this together and we do it as a community.”

Mansfield added his deputies will be taking a more active role in assisting programs such as the Vader Neighborhood Watch and helping to coordinate block watches, as well as depending upon the people of Vader to fine tune the services the city needs.

“Where you want these people, how you want them working, what you want them to doing—we’re going to be extremely receptive to exactly what it is your needs are for this short period of time,” he said.

Mansfield said he plans to meet with Smith at the end of the year to reevaluate the agreement for services and discuss then-current options for law enforcement, though he gave no indication he desires to terminate the agreement at that time. Smith has reasserted his confidence in the viability of a potential police cooperative and said he anticipates local cities will be prepared to officially consider such a proposal after the results of a related study are published in the latter part of next year.

The next Vader City Council meeting has been scheduled for June 18 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall. Those with questions or in need of accommodations can call (360) 295-3222 beforehand.

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