An anticipated discussion regarding law enforcement alternatives was tabled during the May 21 Vader City Council Meeting as the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office had yet to submit an estimate for the cost of increased service.
Mayor Ken Smith said, though he had expected a reply from Sheriff Steve Mansfield prior to the meeting, the estimate was still being prepared and Smith encouraged the council to wait until their next meeting, or a special meeting beforehand, prior to discussing their options further.
Vader has been utilizing the emergency response services of the Sheriff’s Office since Jan. 1 and officials have recently been exploring options to increase their level of service to include regular patrols. Prior to utilizing the Sheriff’s Office, Vader had contracted for full police services through Winlock during 2012 in response to the resignation of former police chief Sean Uhlich, and subsequent dissolution of the police department, in November of 2011.
Mansfield had spoken with Vader officials during their May 7 council meeting and said he is not opposed to increasing their level of service but would not be able to do so without an increase in costs. The Sheriff’s Office is currently charging Vader $55 per hour with a two-hour minimum charge for emergency response and Mansfield stated he would need to speak with his senior deputies to determine both their ability to include Vader as part of regular patrols and the costs associated with doing so. He said he would also examine the possibility of utilizing reserve deputies, which his office employs as volunteers, in an effort to provide cost-effective service.
While Vader considers adding patrols through the Sheriff’s Office, an offer from Toledo for a full-time patrolman dedicated to Vader is still on the table and has received the approval of the Toledo City Council. During their May 20 meeting, Toledo’s council empowered Mayor Jerry Pratt to sign an agreement whereby Officer Ron Pumphrey, who lives in the Vader area and recently re-graduated from the state police academy after spending time overseas, would work full-time in Vader while remaining a Toledo employee. In exchange, Vader would be expected to pay all costs associated with Pumphrey’s employment and patrol expenses, and would provide existing Vader facilities and vehicles for his use.
Pratt assured his council the agreement, which had yet to be presented in contract form at the time of their approval, would be a “no-profit” arrangement where Vader would be expected to pay at-cost for Pumphrey’s services. But contrary to preliminary statements from officials, Pratt said there would need to be a charge involved for any emergency responses in Vader from Toledo PD while Pumphrey was off-duty and said the proposed cost would be $50 per hour with a two-hour minimum charge. But he added backup officers from Toledo while Pumphrey is on the clock would be free of charge as this reflects a long-standing agreement between cities in the area for mutual assistance.
Vader Council Member Janet Charlton, having seen estimated figures and heard Pumphrey speak about his own desire to work in small-town law enforcement, said she was prepared to approve an agreement with Toledo May 21 without seeing a proposal from the Sheriff’s Office as she believes Pumphrey would be able to provide a personal level of quality service to the community. While not disagreeing with Charlton, Smith said it would be unfair to the Sheriff’s Office to approve Toledo’s proposal without seeing Mansfield’s offer and again encouraged the council to discuss the issue their next meeting.
While figures from Toledo were available that night, they were not discussed publicly but disseminated to council members, who did table the issue, after the meeting.
As of press time, a special meeting of the council to consider law enforcement options was anticipated but not had yet been scheduled as the proposal from Mansfield had yet been received. Otherwise, the next council meeting is scheduled for June 4 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall. Those with questions or in need of accommodations may call (360) 295-3222.